Now that I've given you a list of 5 pieces of music children should know, let's talk about composers your children will enjoy.
These are composers who either wrote a lot of music for children, or whose music just APPEALS to children (or the child in all of us).
As with ALL of music, this list is subjective, based on my years of teaching elementary school music and the extensive research I have conducted for the SQUILT curriculum.
It is also important to note that children should not be "talked down to" when we teach them about beautiful music. Consider this (taken from a 2011 article entitled, "How Do you Introduce Classical Music To Kids?":
These composers, therefore, are ones whose music appeals to children, but in no way is confined to childhood.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Composing during the Classical Era (1750-1820), Mozart wrote many pieces that now appeal to children. Many of Mozart's compositions are extremely familiar to children - but they probably never knew they were written by Mozart!
- Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (yes, Mozart originally wrote this catchy little tune we all know so well). Ask your children if they can hear the "Twinkle Twinkle" melody in each of the 12 variations (or changes) in this video:
The music of Brahms is warm, rich, and comforting. Composing in the Romantic Era (1820-1900), Brahms gave us beautiful melodies and lavish instrumentation.
Most everyone is familiar with Brahms' Lullaby, so this is a great entry point to learn about his music with children.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Born in 1840 and died in 1893, Tchikovsky lived an all too short and often tragic life. His music, however, exudes a fiery passion that children enjoy.
One of my personal favorites in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1... you can point out to your children that a CONCERTO is a musical composition for a solo instrument or instruments accompanied by an orchestra, especially one conceived on a relatively large scale.
Here is a short excerpt for your children:
Perhaps some of the most accessible music for children was composed by Camille Saint-Saens.
Saint-Saens, a French composer of the Romantic Era, requested that one of his most popular works, The Carnival of the Animals, be published posthumously. Its first performance was given in 1922 in Paris.
Children will LOVE Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals:
John Williams' music is so enjoyable because it is so FAMILIAR. Who doesn't know the theme to ET or Star Wars? Born in 1932, the musical genius John Williams is still with us today!
Williams' music is often a great entrance point for children... a favorite is the March from Superman: