For those who like a good story, there is a wealth of material in the classical music repertoire for young people to enjoy and explore. Peter and the Wolf by Prokoviev, Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas are all-time favourites.
Further exploration could include Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, George Gershwin’s American in Paris, Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite, Holst’s Planet suite, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons..
Stories from the ballets, such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty and Stravinsky’s Petrushka fire the imagination and possibly could inspire some lovely art work. What better way to fill a rainy day than to listen to some music and paint an illustration of one’s own.
Some of the best stories are simply told in easily learned folk songs or ballads – a time-honoured way in which our forefathers passed on history and kept heroic tales alive for succeeding generations. Such people as Tom Dooley, John Henry, Molly Malone, Barbara Allen, John Brown, all famous in ballads, have a background story to tell!
One such very famous example is the Skye Boat song – a re-telling of the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the darling of the Scots, and his rescuer, Flora McDonald, after the disastrous and notorious Battle of Culloden in 1745. Flora rowed the Young Pretender to the throne, Charles Stuart, to safety and a French ship, after his army had been routed and the attempted rebellion quashed by the Duke of Cumberland and his men. (For budding historians, an opportunity to research some political background to the upcoming Scottish referendum………….)
Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward the sailor’s cry!
Carry the lad that’s born to be King,
Over the sea to Skye.
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Guest Blog by Marion Shuster
BA hons (Cambridge) LRSM
Marion Shuster has been teaching music, conducting and performing locally for over 30 years. She currently has two choirs based in East Grinstead, the Greenstede Singers and Choirpower, as well as a busy teaching schedule.