How to Get Kids Into Classical Music | Opus No. 12

How do you teach the classics to students today? How do you get students thinking critically about how Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are relevant to music today? These composers provide the building blocks of modern music, and are necessary knowledge to a well-rounded musical education, but how do you get students to pay attention to these long-deceased classical music masters?

CDZA presents an innovative way to connect with students and teach them the classics.


American educator Ernest Boyer said that "aesthetic literacy is as basic as linguistic literacy." How are your students to learn about the rhythm of language, and non-verbal expression without a mastery of the basic concepts of music composition?

President Ronald Reagan said, "Civilizations are most often remembered for their art and thought." Giving students an entry point into eighteenth and nineteenth century music can interest them in the history of the music and study the society that produced it. Liberal arts education is unfortunately under threat with budget cutbacks across the U.S. But education in the arts is necessary to create a well-rounded person, foster intellectual development, and provide a cultural framework and aesthetic lens to appreciate great works of art. Furthermore, getting students interested in classical music through popular music today, can help drive interest and hopefully engage the next generation of great musicians to create their own work.


Teachers can use these entertaining exercises by CDZA as an entry point to teach their students the fundamentals of music. Why do the lyrics of a Katy Perry song work well with classical music? What underlying principles of music make this mashup happen? What underlying conventions of music composition allow two songs, written hundreds of years apart, come together as one?

In these exercises, teachers can help their students evaluate the songs in terms of the following:

- Timbre
- Beat and tempo
- Meter
- Pitch and mode
- Tonality
- Melody
- Texture and Harmony
- Understand principles of concise writing through song lyrics

Although many pop lyrics are dismissed as being overly simple, they show how one can convey emotions and ideas in the fewest words possible. Lyric writing is often quite difficult, and their brevity can help students better understand the writing process and how to pare down and edit words to crystallize an idea. Teachers can use these exercises to teach students writing fundamentals, such as how to communicate a single idea in a well-crafted and direct sentence.

These are just some examples of how the music discipline provides skills that transfer beyond listening to and playing music, and transfer to study, cognition, and communication skills. Can you identify more ways that these exercises create transferrable skills for students?

- Dr. Matt Werner
Philosopher Emeritus at CDZA University
Department of Musical Pedagogy

Starring Alyssa Lower and Aiden Medina

Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik meets LMFAO's Party Rock
Offenbach's "Can Can" meets Gaga's Bad Romance
Beethoven's Fur Elise meets Adel's Rolling in the Deep
Grieg's Peer Gynt Overture meets Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony meets Katy Perry's "Wide Awake"
Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy meets One Direction's What Makes You Beautiful
Haydn's Surprise Symphony meets Justin Bieber's Baby
John William's Jurassic Park Theme meets Psy's Gangnam Style

Filmed on: August 3rd, 2012
Location: Terminus Recording Studios, NYC (http://www.terminusnyc.com)

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