Symposium Fall 2017 Edition

Half failure, half screaming success.

Anything with classical music is bound to be a screaming success.

If you are me and you love classical music – on a purely non professional and sophisticated sense.

I just think the music is pretty, ok?

I failed in my attempt at exposing the children to fine art and having them experiment and test out their own artistic and writing abilities. Every other week we were supposed to really study/observe a piece of art and then do a series of mini assignments to help us understand it better: recreate the art from memory, recreate the art while looking at it, write a poem or short story about the piece or one subject/character in the piece, or any other artistic or creative task that would help familiarize the child with the fine art they were studying. 2017 was the year I was going to make that happen!

But I didn’t.

And I’m not sure if I want to keep trying.

I’ll have to think about it.

Because we were focusing on art every other week, we had half as many pieces of music to listen to for symposium. (As a recap, every morning we listen to about 20 minutes worth of classical or similar music while either drawing, writing, or just relaxing and taking in the sounds.)

Here was our play list:

Tchaikovsky – Festival Overture, Overture of 1812 (We found a version on YouTube that played the canons. If you pick this piece, it is essential that you find a recording that uses canons as Tchaikovsky meant them to be heard. All artistic drawings the kids made can be found at this blog post about all my good intentions with the fine art stuff.

Rossini – Wilhelm Tell Overture (Bringing us back to our Swiss roots. We supplemented this with a trip to Swiss Days and an elementary theatrical piece of the Story of the Arrow and the Apple.)


Wagner – The Ride of the Valkyries (kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!)

Sibelius – Finlandia 

Holst – The Planets, Opus 32, IV: Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. This piece is worth looking into yourself. Well, all of these songs are of course. But if there was one song worth really studying and using to uplift and enrich your life, I think I would pick this one. (Although Festive Overture is a close second.) Don’t worry too much that the beginning sounds eerily similar to the theme song from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor (Halloween!)

Brahms – Hungarian Dances 1 through about 5 or 6 (5 is the famous one you will recognize.)IMG_0001

Some German Boys Choir – Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen (I found a version I liked on Amazon Prime Music that we listened to. However, my favorite version of this song is included below. Just beautiful!)

Vienna Boys Choir – Still, still, still, weil’s Kindlein schlafen will.

Vienna Boys’ Choir – In Dolci Jubilo

Von Trapp Singers – In Betlehem Geboren So maybe the Captain, Maria, Liesle and the gang don’t technically count as classical, but they certainly are classy! Or classic. Or at least classic German Christmas. I played these last four songs together as a group to get us in the magical Christmas mood. Not that it’s super practical, but if you ever get a chance to spend Christmas in Germany, don’t pass it up! It is like nowhere else. Just camp out in a Weihnachtsmarkt or something and get the full effect. Or if you can’t make it to Germany, maybe find a Weihnachtsmarkt near you. We’ve got one we like to go to, but we had to miss it this year because we got hit by a car.

Tchaikovsky – The Nutcracker Suite. I played about 25 minutes worth of my favorite little pieces. For these last two weeks before Christmas we also had all our Christmas books out (in a old diaper box wrapped up to look like a Christmas present) which meant we had at last 2 versions of the Nutcracker which I let the kids just read while we listened to the music. I meant to check out a copy of the ballet to watch on TV, but never got around to it. Actually GOING to the ballet would have been the best choice, but we had other stuff going on. The good news is, Christmas always comes around again. And next year the kids will be older and appreciate it a little more anyway.

All I’ve got planned for next year is Beethoven’s 6th symphony. To say I’ve been slacking during Christmas break would be pretty accurate. (Not slacking, per se, just lots and lots of celebrating. And reading. And cleaning the house. And reading.) But because of how much I loved Jupiter, I’m sure I’ll try to throw in at least one more planet.

In any case, it will be fun to see what we come up with this next semester.

And here is just a little treat for you. Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King” was one of the very first pieces we learned (back when I was doing one single composer a month, but different songs each week). The kids always beg me to do it again, but maybe instead I’ll just show them this little video.