I recently discovered the Classics for Kids Website. It is a fun resource that I have used to introduce my elementary students to the periods of music history and expose them to the lives and works of composers from each era. Children are more likely to play expressively when they are exposed to great music, even if it is not keyboard repertoire. Each week during piano lab I assign them a different era to focus on. They select a few brief composer biographies to read while listening to the samples of their music. Then they write a couple of interesting facts about 2 or 3 composers on their Periods of Music History Worksheet by Joy Morin.
Another favorite site for my students is Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. This has been a great incentive for students to finish their lab assignments quickly. They love this site so much I reward them by allowing them to play it when their regular assignments are done. While journeying on a "safari," students are introduced to the various instruments of the orchestra. They play ear training games along the way and in the end learn about fugues. This is ideal for students who can read fluently, but even my 5 year old enjoys playing it with a little help.
DSO Kids includes a Composer Time Machine Game (identifying composer's correct music period), Beethoven's Baseball (reviewing interesting facts about various composers), Composer Corner(learning about composer's lives) and Music Match game (matching theory symbols)
The Music Lab at SFS Kids features a radio where students can listen to excerpts of various familiar classical pieces. I love how the excerpts are arranged by channel including "Big Moments, " "Musical Critters," "Once Upon a Time," etc. Students can hear how music is used to convey different emotions, storylines and sound effects which hopefully will aid them in playing more artistically at the piano.
The New York Philharmonic Kidzone Gameroom has a Music Match Composers Game. My favorite element of this game is that not only are students matching pictures of famous composers, it also includes short clips of some of their works that they listen to and match by ear. Students can also browse the "Composers Gallery" where they can view pictures of famous composers and read their brief biographies.
Starfall.com is the biggest hit for my preschool children. Although it is primarily aimed at helping children learn to read, I love how classical music is incorporated throughout many of the pages and the "It's Fun to Read" section introduces young children to the composers Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Offenbach, Joplin and Tchaikovsky. It provides the perfect introduction for very young children to learn about music history.
What are some of your favorite sites for introducing music history to children?