Even though some kids are so musically inclined that they are able to take in Mozart and Beethoven pure and unabridged, most young listeners do better with classics once they get a little verbal support to go with the music.
The easiest way to provide this support to them is through a classical sing along CD with lyrics easy enough to remember and easy enough to step away from, once the listeners feel ready to stay one on one with the music. Ironically, facilitating the classical listening process for children is a tough task for CD creators. Their main challenge lies in finding a perfect balance between the music and the lyrics and most importantly, in their proportion in the CD.
The latest addition to the popular Beethoven’s Wig CD series, Sing Along Piano Classics, created and performed by Richard Perlmutter, consists of two traditional parts. Part 1 offers thirteen sing alongs featuring well-known works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Mussorgsky and their younger successors Schoenberg, Cowel and Joplin. Part 2 is devoted to the same works, performed on the piano, without the lyrics.
Indeed, some of Perlmutter’s songs are quite compelling. His “Minuet for My Pet”, sung to Beethoven’s “Minuet in G” is touching and adorable beyond words, and his version of Joplin’s “Entertainer”, called “A Piano Is Stuck in the Door”, definitely the hit of the CD, adds even more catchiness to the original and deserves an extra credit for its witty lyrics.
However, in his effort to make his sing-alongs worth remembering, Perlmutter tends to overload them with contents, thus forcing the listeners to focus on the words rather than the music. It seems hard to embrace the beauty of Brahms’ timeless Lullaby, which tells a story of a fly that bugs the poor boy and does not let him fall asleep. It is even harder to enjoy Mozart’s glorious Alla Turca in Perlmutter’s wordy interpretation “Mozart Makes Kids Smart”, which sounds much more like an educational commercial for Mozart’s music, rather than a classical sing along.
If music is all about what you feel rather than what you think, I have to say that there is a bit too much thinking involved in listening to this CD. Even though there is a certain educational aspect to Perlmutter’s sing alongs, as they ignite the child’s curiosity and push him or her towards the right things to like, see, and listen to, it would be preferable if young listeners were still given some time and space to experience emotions that classical music brings to human hearts.
3rd January 2012