Over the course of history, there have been several musical artists whose creative endeavors not only served to entertain but also, to educate. Children, in particular, can benefit greatly from listening to these greats as their music can serve as a foundation to understanding cultural practices around the world, and inspire children to develop a deeper appreciation for music that will last for life.
Why They’re Great: The Beatles’ breakthrough success in the 1960s essentially created the blueprint of the modern pop song, cleverly innovating musical ideas that are still used today. The Beatles are a great introduction to pop music for children thanks to their memorable melodies as well as simple lyrics.
What We Can Do: The ‘Yellow Submarine’ film by The Beatles is a colourful, animated film full of songs that children can enjoy. The title song is one that’s easy for every child to learn and a great way for them to improve their vocabulary as well.
Why He’s Great: Yo-Yo Ma’s career first began as a 7-year-old cello prodigy who performed live for the American president, John F. Kennedy. Since then, he’s helped to bring the cello back to the mainstream and has even been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006 due to his humanitarian efforts.
What We Can Do: A great way to introduce your children to Yo-Yo Ma is through his live performance at the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. The video not only showcases his musical ability but is also a great way for your child to cultivate an interest in western classical music.
Why She’s Great: Anoushka Shankar is a world-renown British Indian Sitar player who also happens to be the daughter of Indian Sitar legend, Ravi Shankar. What sets Anoushka Shankar apart is her ability to bring together the music of multiple cultures into one cohesive piece.
What We Can Do: Anoushka Shankar’s music is a great way to introduce children to traditional Indian music in a way that is more easily digestible. Her piece, ‘Lasya’ showcases how Indian music has evolved to a more contemporary form.
Why He’s Great: Whether you know it or not, chances are that you and your child have already heard the music of John Williams. From ‘Indiana Jones’ to ‘Harry Potter’, John Williams has provided some of the most memorable movie scores over the course of history.
What We Can Do: The best way to experience his musical scores is through the movies, the most famous of which is perhaps ‘Star Wars’. A great exercise to show your children what difference music makes to films is to show your children this video of a Star Wars scene without music.
Why He’s Great: A. R. Rahman is perhaps one of the most popular contemporary Indian musical artists. He’s provided music for thousands of films and has even been honoured by Stanford University for his contribution to world music.
What We Can Do: Much like Anoushka Shankar, A.R. Rahman fuses traditional Indian music with modern and international sounds. This means that listening to his music can help children to understand their own culture better while simultaneously broadening their exposure to the music of their cultures. Start with this live performance of a medley of Rahman’s best tunes.