The University of St. Thomas


Riihiluoma, Linda

Riihiluoma, Linda

Growing with Classical Music: A Five-Year Plan for the Elementary Listener
Linda Kay Riihiluoma

Perceptive, responsive listening is fundamental to the musical sense. Therefore, this project addresses the question, “How can I help my students become more receptive and discriminating music listeners?” Because students with positive attitudes are more likely to be receptive listeners, the literature search covers preference studies as well as information about developing students’ power of hearing.

A review of the literature indicates that familiarity of the music through repetition is the number one reason for musical preference. Also, repeated listening to classical music in the early years is important to keeping children receptive to classical music. Thus, this capstone proposes a plan to present ten compositions of Western art music from the Renaissance through Contemporary periods to elementary students each year for five years.

The lessons incorporate ideas from the literature search which suggest that educators employ compositional activities, listening maps, and call charts to increase student motivation and to develop aural acuity. Critical thinking skills and small group dialogues about the music are also advocated. According to the research, educators should keep in mind the musical factors which positively influence student listening preferences and initially present music to children that is instrumental and has a fast tempo, dynamic contrast, melodic repeats and flowing rhythm.

Accompanying each composition is a suggested sequence of concepts to be taught to students in grades one through five. For three of these pieces, detailed lesson plans have been developed for the five elementary grades to help students access the music in an active way through singing, playing, moving, and improvising music. A brief description of the piece and the composer are included with the lesson plans.

The goals of this project were to develop children’s listening skills and to familiarize them with a repertoire of classical music through repeated hearings and active listening lessons.

Capstone Advisor
Ann C. Kay