Developing a Relationship with Composers
In my continuous research on composer study materials, I came across a wonderful article on developing the relationship between young students and the great composers. Franciska Schwimmer wrote the book "Great Musicians as Children" and reminisces in the introduction of the book about her experience as a young pianist. Her teacher, a student of Liszt, imparted a joy and passion for the character qualities of the composers she was studying in her piano repertoire. Her teacher would tell her personal stories about Liszt and other interesting anecdotes about many composers so that the music she played took on a personal quality directly attributed to the connection she felt to these great composers that had lived in the past.
When Franciska came to the United States as a piano teacher, she noticed that the American students were very technically talented, but had developed none of the relational quality that she had grown up with as a student. She writes:
"My American pupils were as gifted as I could wish. Many of them were smarter than the smartest Hungarian pupils I ever had. Yet something was wrong. For a while I puzzled what the matter was, but then the truth dawned on me......they lacked a deep love for music and a general interest in the whole range of the most universal of all arts......They would often play pieces quite well without knowing the name of the composer. And names did not conjure up in their imagination the lives of those whose genius presented us with the great creations."
She goes on to give stories of introducing her students to the lives of composers like Beethoven and heroic tales of how these composers, flesh and blood, lived lives in a way that we can relate to and connect with.
(Isn't that a wonderful example of how living books can be the catalyst for our "science of relations" with a Charlotte Mason education?)
Schwimmer goes on and says:
"I remember how stories heard in my childhood have whetted my appetite to know more of the lives of great musicians. Some of the most fascinating books in all literature have been written by or about musicians."
One of my favorite resources to impart these stories and anecdotes to children is through the Thomas Tapper series. I love how students can really get to know the person behind the music that they study!
And I am very excited about the release of the Composer Study Companion that will highlight musical works by 12 of the greatest classical composers. Make sure you follow Composer Study Companion for a release date in the next coming weeks! Edits have been sent in and formatting is the final phase before the book will be sent to printers!
If you have any questions about specific composers or works, I would love to have a conversation with you on the Facebook page!
And if you didn't get a chance to listen, my favorite music teacher podcast features the Composer Study Companion and gives you more of a background behind the project!