We don't care about brain benefits. We're having fun.

When people start eating healthy after years of fast food, they often go too far, replacing their usual mac and cheese with steamed spinach. Ewwww! How about spinach sauteed with caramelized onions, garlic, toasted sesame oil, tamari sauce, and a splash of balsamic vinegar? Or a raw spinach salad with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, crumbled bacon and your favorite dressing? Hey, you're shopping for summer camps and you just got a couple of recipes. You're welcome. 

But the point is, you still get the benefit of the spinach even when you've added things to make it taste good. Most importantly, the aspiring healthy eater might even stick with the new, healthy foods they've introduced into their diet if they actually taste good. Life doesn't have to be a test of moral endurance to be worthwhile.

So let's talk about our cultural relationship with classical music. Is it possible that we're being too respectful, and therefore keeping it at a safe distance? Are we giving it the steamed spinach treatment, afraid to admit that it's yucky the way it's been presented to us? Do we not even bother to introduce our children to it, assuming they won't like it? What can we do to add some flavor?

In the Immortal Melodies workshop, we're going to make classical music our playground. Along the way, we will:

  • Realize how many classical themes we already know as we sing, dance, and play along with favorite pieces that have been enjoyed for centuries.
  • Learn about classical composers in a way that makes them seem like real, interesting people. We'll also discuss the stories behind famous themes.
  • Welcome guest performers (including children) who will perform chamber music for us, live!
  • Play classical themes on our instruments (beginners, too!). We'll find out in advance what each students' level of experience is and plan accordingly.
  • Watch a selection of short films featuring classical performances, emphasizing those that feature classical music in a fresh or memorable context. For example, we might watch buskers in a subway station, a young child performing a flashy piece, or a "flash mob" event.
  • Create "silent movies" where we choose a piece of music and design a pantomime that fits.
  • Focus on works (and parts of works) that are accessible to young people, respecting their attention without insulting their intelligence. Less is more.

The workshop (for ages 6-12) will end with a performance showcase for family and friends where we'll have a chance to share what we've learned. We'll have learned a lot, but we will have been having too much fun to notice.