Classical music in the movies

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Charming post in The Atlantic about classical music that you learned from watching movies. I have one of my own to add — the swimming pool scene from Harold & Maud. I can never hear that piano concerto without thinking of this:

I have always wondered how Harold managed to float so perfectly flat and still on top of the water. I’m a very confident swimmer but I don’t think I could do that.

My mother is extremely dense. Physically, I mean. Her body literally will not float. She is fairly athletic but she was never able to learn to swim. It is pretty hilarious to watch her try. She just sinks straight to the bottom of the pool, every time. And then I say to her, “Mom, you rock.” har har har

Anyone have any other classical music / movie scenes to contribute? I’d love to hear ’em, with or without accompanying random unrelated thoughts.

Thank you Béla Bartók

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Because I am the meanest mom in the world, I force my two younger kids to practice the violin every day. And I mean every day. They never get a day off, unless it is their lesson day or they are actually throwing up. If there is not enough time for both practicing and homework, practicing comes first.

I have absolutely no qualms about this. The kids think it is a normal part of life — they brush their teeth every day, too. Sure they complain sometimes, but they do it, and they are reaping all those awesome benefits of both brain and character development. It is also quite a challenge for me as a parent, since I practice with them. It is very hard sometimes, but soooo worth the effort.

Even so, there are days when “real” practicing just ain’t gonna happen — in other words, when Mama is fried. This is where dear Béla Bartók comes in to save the day. See, he wrote some violin duets. 44 of them, to be precise, written for children. Not only are they amazingly beautiful, but they are also amazingly educational. The separate parts are extremely simple (especially the beginning ones) but putting them together is challenging and gives lots of opportunity to practice chamber music skills. My kiddos have been working on them for a while, the first half dozen or so anyway. Since they each know both parts we can usually fill up a good half hour with them taking turns. It makes a nice change from the usual practice routine and involves no effort from me whatsoever. Yay, Bartók!!!

Classical Music 101

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So, do you like classical music? Surely I’m not the only one out here in the blogosphere who listens to it all day long. If you do too, please leave a comment and tell me what you are listening to!

If you find classical music intimidating, may I suggest? Pick ONE piece and listen to it over and over. Just put it on repeat play and make it your constant background. Have it on while you’re cooking dinner, while you’re blogging, while you’re driving in your car — make it your personal soundtrack. You don’t have to sit and listen. Just absorb it as you go about your day. Do this until you know the piece so well that you can sing along with it from start to finish. When you have gotten to that point, find another recording of the same piece, by a different performer. Now is the time to sit and listen! Listen closely and see if you can notice differences in the two performances. Do you like one better than the other? And that’s it — now you can go pick another piece.

A variation on this idea is to get tickets to a concert, preferably well in advance. Create a playlist of everything that’s going to be on the program, make it your personal soundtrack as described above, and when the time comes you will LOVE the live performance. (Hint: you can do this with children too. Put that background music on while they’re doing their homework or playing with their Legos. Every day for a month! Then take them to the concert.)

Soooooo… here is a movement from one of my favorite pieces by one of my favorite composers, Robert Schumann. Hope you enjoy.