Is my friend happy?
Is my brother sad?
Did I just make the grocery clerk angry?
To read these people’s emotions, we need to look at their facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice and feel the tension in the air. It takes a combination of insights to accurately read how a person is feeling. Some children are really good at seeing how people feel and other children walk through life unconcerned about anyone else’s emotions or feelings. Using music is a great way to practice social reading.
Music conveys emotions and feelings and we can make a game out of figuring out what the music is trying to tell us.
Does this song sound happy or sad?
Put on some music without lyrics and ask how the music makes you feel. Music is full of complex emotions and is a great place to start. Either simply listen to the music or have your child act as the conductor as you play the music. Explain that the conductor doesn’t dance but helps the musicians know what emotions and feelings the music is conveying.
Just like our tone of speech tells if we are happy or sad, the key the music is written and played in tells if it is happy or sad. Major tones tend to be happy and carefree. Minor tones are often heard as sad and gloomy.
As you listen to the music, ask:
Is the music fast or slow?
Is it happy or sad?
Is it bouncy like a rabbit or flowing like an ice skater?
Is it loud or soft?
Is it peaceful or agitating?
Is it soothing like a lullaby or upbeat like a marching song?
How does the music make you feel?
Classical music is full of emotions, changing from one emotion to another and then back again. See if you and your child can follow these emotional changes.
In the beginning you should point out these feelings and then after some practice your child might start understanding and pick up on the emotions himself. Music is a great tool for teaching and practicing social reading. With some practice your child will be able to better understand the people around him.
Song ideas to start with:
Bach’s Toccata in D Minor – written for the church but because of the minor tones we associate it with Halloween music
Haydn’s Surprise Symphony – loud and soft and full of surprises!
Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony- happy music for children- full of birds and cuckoo clock sounds
Handel’s Minuet from Water Music – written for royalty, your child will want to get up and dance the Minuet
Rodeo by Aaron Copeland- very patriotic- your child will want to gallop like a horse
Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – Can you pick out the seasons by the music?
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata -full of emotion