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'Children's Corner'

January 12, 2015
By Dr. Gail Looney - Contributing Writer , OVParent

Do you remember the piano from our December Musical Chairs? A very famous French composer, Claude Debussy, wrote an engaging piano solo for his 3 -year-old daughter, Claude-Emma (affectionately known as Chou Chou). The piece was not meant to be played by young children but rather is for listening.

The complete work is titled "Children's Corner," made up of six smaller pieces of about three minutes each - just enough for the attention span of a 3-year-old. Let's have fun with some of the pieces.

Find Debussy's Children's Corner by Charlotte Pearl on YouTube.

1. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum is a great beginning for young children. It twirls about on the piano and begs for dancing! Dance with the music.

2. Jimbo's lullaby is about a toy elephant that is falling asleep. After all that dancing, a quiet time is a good one to hear next. Do you have a toy elephant or any toy that needs a nap? This is a good time to play quietly. Drawing the sleeping elephant also stimulates creativity.

3. Serenade for the doll is about Chou Chou's porcelain doll. What is your favorite doll? Maybe you can write the story and read it later or record it and watch it.

4. The snow is dancing is a great piece to hear on a snowy day. You can just see the snow dancing and falling from the sky to the ground. Watching it from indoors is perfect while you paint or draw a snowy day that looks like the music sounds. Debussy uses the piano so well that you can really see the snow drifting through the trees and blowing around.

5. The little shepherd helps you hear the shepherd playing his flute as he watches the sheep in the mountains. If you have a recorder, this is a good time to learn how to blow into it and just play any notes that come out. With interest, a recorder is a good beginning for the study of other wind instruments later - flute, clarinet and oboe. Pretend to be the shepherd playing the flute to calm the sheep. It's always fun to pretend to play the recorder or the piano with the music, too.

6. Golliwog's cake-walk is a really fun way to end the whole work. This piece could be danced to with a favorite doll or other stuffed animal. Notice when to move fast and when to slow down while dancing along with the music.

Warm up a cold, snowy day with music!

- Dr. Gail Looney is the Wheeling Symphony librarian.



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