Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

When I teach science, I look for opportunities to integrate the arts because the arts are means of expression for everyone. To me, it doesn’t matter if you know much about classical music. It’s more important to use music and help others to enjoy it by making direct connections with other disciplines.

You can do this, too.

For example, The Planets, composed in 1914-1915 by British composer Gustav Holst, is a suite of pieces inspired by his understanding of astronomy and astrology. My favorite piece is “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” because its musical themes are recognizable to many.

After learning about the solar system, I’ve asked children to listen to “Jupiter,” had them evaluate what they hear in the piece, and then determine if it expands or deepens their understanding of the planet. This is quite sophisticated for children of any age, but I’ve been astonished at the insights of even young students.

You can follow the lead by listening to the great Leonard Bernstein speak about The Planets. “Jupiter” begins at about 24:58.

Haydn for Happiness

Introduce a little classical music that washes your children with happiness. One piece from Franz Joseph Haydn’s  “Surprise Symphony” (No. 94 in G) may sound familiar to you and your children, which makes listening to it even more fun.

Part of the happiness comes from Haydn’s surprise sounds written in this piece. Some of it is that music from the classical era, which includes Haydn, Mozart, and some Beethoven, is easy listening.  Its symmetrical structure feels comfortable, the harmonies agree with the ear, and the rhythm feels as regular as a pulse.

Symmetrical, harmony, rhythmic–all good elements for happy parents and children.