Sunday, October 16

Learning Classical Music through Cartoons

Do you remember Saturday morning cartoons when we were kids?  Even now, it's not unheard of for me to grab my coffee and curl up in front of some vintage cartoons with the kids on the weekends...

Back in the 1930s, classical music was used in the earliest cartoons, introducing children to this musical genre at a very early age.  These earliest cartoons and their successor, the Looney Toons generation, have fallen out of favor in recent years for (what I would deem) more crass cartoons, but there is still a place for them.  More children than you probably imagine still watch these, many alongside their parents, even today, continuing that legacy of teaching character, morals, and even classical music.

Why classical music?

Cartoons began before the age of 'talkies,' moving pictures that also had audio.  These earliest cartoons had no dialogue, and the audio ran completely separately from the visual components.  If you've ever seen a cartoon, though, or even a scary movie, you know that the audio track is important in setting the stage, building anticipation, and helping the audience to understand the mood of what they are seeing.

The easiest music to access for these earliest cartoons was classical.  Many were well-known tunes at the time, and as the years passed, classical music became an integral part of the cartoon business.  Disney, Tom and Jerry, and Looney Toons were some of the biggest names in this business, and I'm sure you've seen at least one or two of their pieces...or maybe the vintage Fantasia, narrated by a full symphony orchestra.

Classical Music through Cartoons 

At Music In Your Homeschool, we stumbled upon this cute and fun course that worked out perfectly for an all-family study!  To be honest, I haven't included a lot of music education in our homeschool, beyond the History of Rock and Roll.  Sure, we've gone to see The Nutcracker a few times, and even spent a semester taking guitar lessons online, but classical music / band / symphony just isn't in our wheelhouse.  However...Saturday morning cartoons are!

The course includes thirty-seven separate composer studies, each with music to listen to -- by cartoon! The cartoons range from the very vintage (1931) to the very modern (computer-generated graphics), and each lesson contains movement activities to get the kids off the couch and moving their bodies to the music.  Included in the course are printables, such as the Study-a-Composer printable pack and Dynamics flashcards. There is also a two-question quiz at the end of each lesson.

How We Used the Course

We completed this course over a month-long period, doing one or two lessons each day (and five or six on the incredibly rainy weekend days) with students ranging from seven to eighteen...and though the older ones pretend to act like they are too cool for school, they really enjoyed it, too!  Mom read the informational text, then we did some listening to composers, learned about the musical instruments and dynamics (some of which the olders had also learned from Little Einsteins), did some exercises together, and then curled up with our popcorn together to snuggle in for cartoon watching...and we call it school!  (Don't you just love homeschooling?)

To flesh it out a bit for the older kids, we added in some composer notebooking pages and the Composers Activity Pak, while the younger kids did some free-interpretation drawings about the music itself and listened to the activity pak lessons.

Try it out for yourself with a free lesson --> J. Strauss Jr. and "Tales from the Vienna Woods

Peek inside the course!

Here are a few of their other freebies:

Some of the other courses that piqued our interest:

If you're in a state that requires a year of music & fine arts, these high school courses fit the bill!

And if you're just looking for something to print and go:

Interested in giving it a go?  Check out the free samples above, and then use code 2022MUSIC to get 15% off any course!  (memberships excluded)

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