I introduced Peter and the Wolf by Sergéi Prokófiev to the children for our very first music appreciation and study.
It has been said that this symphonic fairy tale is a good introduction to classical music for children because each character of the story is represented by one instrument in the orchestra.
Listening to the Music
Prior to introducing each character of the play, we spent a number of times listening to the music. I chose the album which include the excellent narration of Alexander Armstrong.
ClassicFM also features a step-by-step guide to the Peter and the Wolf which you can appreciate if you are uninitiated to classical music like I am.
After many occasions of listening the music while they are playing in the bedroom, they are now familiar with the music. The first few lines played by the string section of the orchestra in order to introduce Peter, the main character, is quite telling. They know it now by heart.
With this preparation, I also spent a few weeks printing and cutting out these marionettes by Sarah Jane Studios to prepare the puppets for play. It was not an easy feat!
But having puppets as we listened to the music coupled with narrations grabbed their attention. Both children (ages 4 and 7 years old) seemed to enjoy playing puppet master as they took turns in playing each character. Having a “puppet theater stage” made the play more legitimate, so to speak.
Name that Instrument
While we were listening to the music, we also spent some time identifying the musical instrument as each character was introduced one by one.
The Safari Toob instrument toys came in handy. It also helped that I recently got a Peter and the Wolf story book which featured these elements.
I am also glad to finally use some of the music books that I’ve been keeping for them!
Some Other Resources
There are a host of resources available online as you teach Peter and the Wolf to your children. The important part is to learn what you would like to teach and how to sift through all of resources. I saved my finds over at Pinterest, which you can certainly check, if you’d like to.
I also considered getting the Maestro Classics album, but I had already a few things lined up and doing this study would have been too much already.
Perhaps next time if we’d like to delve deeper, this would be a good idea. But our homeschool budget has been blown out of proportions already. However, the sample playlist and listening guide at their website should be well worth your time.
Another resources which became available due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the “lockdown version” of the classic tale which includes the London Mozart Players and their families.
It is a fun feature that could be enjoyed on a slow Saturday afternoon. Oh, did you know that Disney made an animated film of Peter and the Wolf in 1946? This could well be the reason why I was acquainted with the music.
All in all, this first music appreciation and short study was a pleasant experience for my children, including myself. It was so good that I decided to do another feature with Alexander Armstrong’s narration, Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.