Music for listening

Live music

The main recommendation is that, if you have access to any live musicians, let them perform. The impact of live music will amaze many children. The higher quality the musician, the greater the impact will be.

Recorded music

You can select music in a number of ways:

  • Children bring music they like.
  • The European classical tradition gives you over five centuries of great material.
  • Then there is the entire world of jazz, folk music and film scores.
  • Leave the West behind and the array of music seems endless with particularly rich traditions from China, India, South Asia, Africa and South America.

With all this music to choose from, don’t restrict the experience to music that you are sure your pupils will like. A negative response, if well framed, can be just as interesting, informative and productive as a positive one. The only real restriction is length. To start off with, a piece lasting between 3 and 5 minutes should be ideal – that is the length most people are used to from popular music.

Some suggested music for listening

The wealth of music available is vast, and you’ll find your own favourites, but here are just a few suggestions if you need a pointer to where to start.


Debussy – L’après Midi d’une Faune
Arvo Pärt – Speigel im Speigel
Barber – Adagio for Strings
Erik Satie – Gymnopédies
Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on Greensleeves
Albinoni – Oboe Concerto in D minor, 2nd movement
William Byrd – masses for 3, 4 and 5 voices
Satie – Gymnopédies
Saint-Saëns – The Swan (Carnival of the Animals)
Debussy – Clair de Lune


Moussorgsky – Great Gates Of Kiev
Holst – Jupiter from The Planets
Dvořák – Slavonic Dances
Benny Goodman – Sing, Sing, Sing
Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
Charlie Parker – Ornithology


Mahler –  Symphony no. 1, 3rd movement
John Tavener – Song For Athene 
Purcell – Chaconne in G minor
Shostakovich – Piano Concerto no. 2, 2nd movement
Beethoven – Symphony no. 7, 2nd movement


Janáček – Sinfonietta, 1st movement
Glinka – Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture
Holst – Mars and Mercury from The Planets
Shostakovich – Symphony no. 5, 4th movement
John Adams – Chairman Dances

General listening

Mozart – Piano Concertos nos. 23, 24, 25, 26, and  27
Bach – Goldberg Variations
Bach – Cello suites
Ravel – Ma Mère L’Oye (Mother Goose)
Chet Baker and Stan Getz – Quintessence 1 (album)
Ella Fitzgerald with Joe Pass – Fitzgerald and Pass again (album)
Frank Sinatra – Where are you (album)
Housemartins – Caravan of Love

World Music

Classical Indian Music: Moods of the Day – Evening Ragas –  musicians: Chaurasia / Sharma / Khan. Decca 448 677-2, 1995 Polygram India
Javanese Gamelan and vocal music: The Sultan’s Pleasure – from the palace of Yogyakharta. Music of the World, CDT-116
Flamenco Guitar: Luzia – Paco De Lucia. 1998 Polygram Iberica.
Africa: In the Heart of the Moon – Ali Faka Toure and Toumani Diabate – guitar and kora, 2005 World Circuit Ltd WCD072
Iraq:  Munir Bashir: The Art of the Ud
Klezmer: Di Shikere Kapelye – Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars. Piranha records CD PIR1467
Roumanian gypsy music: Honourable Brigands, Magic Horses and Evil Eye; Taraf De Haidouks. Musique de Tsiganes de Roumanie vol. 2. 1994 Crammed Discs
Gypsy music for brass: Gili Garabdi – Fanfare Ciocarlia. Asphalt Tango Records CDR-ATR 0605, 2005.

Film Music

Film music is a very rich and varied genre. Next time you go to the cinema, listen more attentively to the music, and if you like it look at the credits to see who composed it and find out what other music was written by that composer. Here are some film composers to look out for:
John Williams (eg. Jaws, Schindler’s List, Harry Potter, E.T., Star Wars)
Yann Tiersen (eg. Amelie, Goodbye Lenin, The Piano)
Hans Zimmer (eg. The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Carribean, Gladiator, The Lion King)
John Barry (eg. James Bond movies, Born Free, Out of Africa)

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