Teaching, Learning Can Be as Entertaining as a Song
Tsubata, Kate, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Teaching music appreciation isn't exactly something I have felt comfortable with, never having the easy knowledge of the classical masters that I wanted. Recently, however, I decided to introduce the children to the use of music and song as a storytelling tool.
Going to my ever-helpful local library, I looked for some musicals that would interest children. Quite by chance, I discovered the librettos to several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and I was lucky enough to find both the libretto and the video of "The Pirates of Penzance."
With moans and groans, my long-suffering students sat down to watch this mysterious art form, with the daunting name. The operetta sounded like large ladies with unusual headpieces screeching in some foreign language. But after a short time, they began to enjoy the humor and the catchy tunes of "I Am a Pirate King" and "Modern Major General" and "Tarantara."
Having the libretto to read along with was really helpful. They could read the lyrics that were too fast to be understood when heard for the first time. Soon they were trying to sing along. Ha! That's the moment for which all home-schooling mamas (or papas) are waiting - when the information becomes interesting and then fascinating.
After the ice was broken, it was a simple step to rent the movie "Evita," which is a modern opera of sorts. Andrew Lloyd Webber, following on his earlier works "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," wrote this musical version of the life of Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina.
Because Madonna plays the part in the movie with Antonio Banderas (who the children know for his role in a recent Zorro movie), this was a bit more contemporary in feel than "The Pirates of Penzance." However, when the movie finished, we were able to draw certain parallels in the two works: using music for political satire, or to lampoon societal distinctions of class or money. …