While many North Floridians are familiar with the Jacksonville Symphony, they may not be aware that the orchestra’s youth programs provide myriad ways to introduce children to, and educate them about, classical music. From the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras to Family Concerts to Students at the Symphony, there are many ways to get involved.
Is there a “Mozart” effect?
An article in Nature magazine in 1993 described a study that showed college students scored better at performing a mindless task while listening to classical music. That study created the concept of The Mozart Effect. Mothers-to-be were routinely listening to Mozart’s music in the hopes of boosting their child’s intelligence. Some states, Florida included, even mandated the playing of classical music by mothers and at daycare centers.
While it is an appealing thought that beautiful music can increase intelligence, the author of that original study, Frances Rauscher, debunked the cause-and-effect. Yet it doesn’t mean that listening to classical music as a child will not help.
“There’s tons of research about it,” says Kathryn Rudolph, director of education and community engagement at the Jacksonville Symphony. “You can start early on with age-appropriate goals that are appealing to children.”
Your child will cue you as to what’s interesting to him/her. Rudolph explains that her young niece spontaneously started singing random melodies and clapping out rhythms she had heard on television.
“She had a mini-piano that she chose to play with over her other toys,” Rudolph adds. “That was a clue.”
Rudolph, who is tasked with revamping, focusing and integrating the Jacksonville Symphony’s outreach programs, believes that there are many entry points to classical music in addition to taking children to a Masterworks concert.
Ways to Introduce Children to the Music
For younger children, there’s the Family Concert, Stravinsky’s The Firebird (February 19 at 3 p.m.) and Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, film with orchestra (April 1 and 2). The cartoon movie presentation emphasizes the point that many cartoons include classical music as a background.
For older children and families there are the bestbet Symphony in 60 concerts (Feb. 2, March 2 and April 27). These sixty-minute performances, which include video of the orchestra, presentation by Music Director Courtney Lewis, and a chance to mingle onstage after the performance, help explain to children what’s going on with the music. And what child would not want to stand on the conductor’s podium and wave a baton?