I confess. I am an avid lover of classical music and have been for most of my life. So when I first learned about the importance Charlotte Mason placed on composer study, I became further endeared to her ideas and philosophy. Our children are ages 2, 4, and 6 years, so for us composer study is not very formal. In fact, sometimes we have some pretty silly fun with classical music around here. But when we do sit down to listen to a specific piece and learn about a composer, it usually happens at the lunch table. (I'm sure I'm not the only parent who has discovered the beauty of a captive audience with a mouth full of food!) We are currently focusing on Mozart, so he has been our lunch guest quite a lot over the last several weeks. Oftentimes I'll pop a CD into our under-the-cabinet CD player (one of the best investments we've made), and we'll munch on PB & J's while listening to a symphony. Another easy (and cost-effective) way to listen to more of a composer's works is Youtube. Only recently did it occur to me to search there for classical music - this discovery may be old news to most of you! :) Our computer is on a desk in the kitchen, so if there's a certain work we don't have in our music library, I'll do a search on Youtube and almost always find a quality performance. (As a precaution, I think it's always a good idea to search video content when children are not around.) With one click of the mouse we have our own private luncheon concert! Seeing the conductor and the musicians playing their instruments really grabs the attention of my littles.
Here are some of our favorite Mozart performances courtesy of Youtube:
Overture to the Marriage of Figaro
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, 1st movement
Symphony No. 41 in C major ("Jupiter"), 4th movement
And for something a bit less lively, try his Clarinet Concerto, 2nd movement.
I'll also usually read bits and pieces from a children's picture book about our spotlighted composer. I really like Mike Venezia's series. The few of these we've checked out have been informative and fun. I like the fact that the author includes photographs as well as illustrations, and Superman enjoys Mr. Venezia's funny cartoons and jokes. The colorful pictures usually hold my four-year old's attention too.
A few internet resources for Mozart:
This website has many wonderful links. Scroll down to the bottom of the main page for a great reading list, too!
Classics for Kids
Dallas Symphony Orchestra Mozart page for kids
Tour Salzburg, city of Mozart.
Here is a fun, interactive story, "Mozart's Magical, Musical Life". (Be sure to listen to the clips along the way.)
Listen to Mozart online for free - many works to choose from.
Classical Music Archives - You can register as a free member and hear a limited number of works or subscribe for $25 per year.
A short printable biography (with a nice picture that could be used on a timeline)
I hope that you will find some of these resources helpful. Don't forget to set an extra place at the lunch table, and happy listening!