Friday, March 13, 2009

Hooked on Classics

In honour of Andre's upcoming music exam, here's a post on classical music.

Many kids find classical music unpalatable, especially if they're hearing it for the first time. It's not instantly accessible like pop music. But classical music has wonderful benefits, one of them being it develops the mind. So if you want to expose your kids to classical music but their level of resistance is similar to that for green vegetables, I have three words for you: Hooked on Classics.

In 1981, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recorded a very ingenious album which basically blended seamlessly together a series of highly recognisable tunes from classical music works, set to a distinctive pop beat. The recording was conducted by Louis Clark, former arranger for the Electric Light Orchestra.

The first cut of the album was so popular it actually reached No. 2 on the UK singles chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 and 1982. No mean feat considering these are pop music charts! The popularity of the album led to the release of two more Hooked on Classics albums in 1982 and 1983, followed by numerous spin-offs like Hooked on Swing.

Technically, they are not classical music albums because the beat is completely pop and they're too kitsch for true classical music fans. But in this respect, I'm no purist - I feel they are perfect for getting kids interested in classical music because the music is infectious and easy to catch on. It opens them to the possibility that classical music can be quite enjoyable, and that's half the battle won. I remember the albums paving my foray into classical music and Kenneth's too.

Recently, I downloaded the albums onto Lesley-Anne's handphone and she's... well, hooked. She has other pop music in there but she's addicted to Hooked on Classics. The best part is, the albums provide an entire list of the works that were extracted from, so they spark curiosity as to what the original pieces sound like. Lesley-Anne, after listening repeatedly to one of the tracks - Hooked on Tchaikovsky - said she wants to listen to the entire Swan Lake ballet suite.

Just as an example, the first track on the first album contains the following works:

Piano Concerto No 1 In B Flat Minor Op 23 / Tchaikovsky
Flight Of The Bumble Bee / Rimsky-Korsakov
Symphony No 40 In G Minor / Mozart
Rhapsody In Blue / Gershwin
Karelia Suite Op 11 / Sibelius
Symphony No 5 In C Minor Op 67 / Beethoven
Toccata In D Minor / JS Bach
Serenade No 13 In G Major - 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' / Mozart
Symphony No 9 In D Minor Op 125 / Beethoven
Overture To William Tell / Rossini
Le Nozze Di Figaro / Mozart
Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture / Tchaikovsky
Trumpet Voluntary / Clarke
Hallelujah Chorus / Handel
Piano Concerto In A Minor Op 16 / Grieg
March Of The Torreadors / Bizet
1812 Overture / Tchaikovsky

Some of the titles may not sound familiar, but I'm sure you'll be surprised at how many you can recognise. They've been used for anything from tv commercials to movie themes. You can hear it on this Youtube video (the sound isn't great though, remember, it's a 1981 recording!)


Anonymous said...

What a blast from the past ! I remember bopping to them in my younger years ! I wonder what happened to my old cassettes.

Are they still available on CD ? I think my girls (and dad/mom) will enjoy them. Certainly more "fun" than the piano solos we currently have in the ipod.

I think bringing our children to some concerts would also inspire them. Haven't got around to doing that though. Sad that S'pore doesn't have a similar "Family fun day concert series" unlike the Malaysian DFP.

monlim said...

Yes, they're on CD! Actually, the SSO does have kids concerts yearly, I brought mine to Peter and the Wolf and a couple of others a few years back. But then they were too childish for L-A and I baulked at the high ticket prices (higher than the SSO regular concerts!) Occasionally, I'll bring them to an SSO concert if it features a great soloist and a more familiar work. Alternatively, there's also the SSO concerts at the Botanic Gardens, those are always nice.

Lilian said...

Great Youtube video, I'd never have known, music imbecile that I am. Always thought only the eccentric, the old fogeys, and potential serial killers listen to classical music. This has definitely opened my eyes...ears actually. Thanks!

monlim said...

LOL @ potential serial killers! So jialat meh?? See, if I can get just one convert from this post, would've been worth it!

Lilian said...

You never watch HK serials meh? Or even western movies. When the serial killers are about to make their move, or gonna eat their victims, they'll close their eyes and reminisce, then for sure, classical music will come on. hehe.

monlim said...


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