Beethoven’s Wig is {a} Big {Hit}

Two weeks ago, Howard and I took our girls to the circus and – not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions during different acts the music blaring over the loudspeakers was jazzed up renditions of classical pieces.  The first was Offenbach’s Can-Can played during the initial clown act.  My 5 year old turned to me and yelled loudly, “hey Mommy! It’s the Can Can.”  The people in our surrounding area smiled.  A short time later, during an act involving a variety of acrobatic mutts, a version of In the Hall of the Mountain King was played.  Mira happily shouted again in my direction, “Mommy- it’s Grieg!”  A few more interested glances came our way along with an appreciative nod from the lady next to me. Then, in one of the final acts, Hungarian Dance #5 was boomed from the speakers.  This time Mira jumped up from her seat and excitedly exclaimed, “Hey Mommy! It’s Bach-” She paused a moment, closed her eyes in concentration, began nodding her head in time with the music, and then corrected herself.  “No, not Bach!  It’s Brahms!”

That time the audience around us looked at me with shock and I can only imagine they were wondering how I was was raising such a musical genius.  I just laughed, shrugged, and informed the inquiring lady next to me that it was all because of Beethoven’s Wig. 

Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies

I was recently given the opportunity to review this amazing resource and from my experience at the circus, I can honestly tell you that Beethoven’s Wig is having a pretty big and beneficial impact here.  We have since picked up all 5 CDs in this series and utilize them as part of our car-schooling experience.  Not a car ride goes by that my 5 year old doesn’t “conduct” a piece or two and my 3 year old doesn’t ask for Grieg’s Mountain King!  Even my 21 month old happily nods in time with the music.

Richard Perlmutter, creator of Beethoven’s Wig, has written delightfully catchy and downright hysterical lyrics to numerous classical works of art.  Nearly every song injects some element of history by incorporating the use of facts, dates, or the composer’s name.

For someone like myself, who greatly enjoys classical music but has no formal training in it (unless you count a few years violin lessons back in my early 20’s) these CDs literally acquaint you with classical composers and build your level of familiarity with their pieces. I used to know an occasional Beethoven or Mozart.  Maybe a Vivaldi or two.  But now I can recognize numerous pieces and tell you something specific about each one.

And best of all, these CDs have opened up the classical world to my children in a fun and engaging way.  We laugh and sing them together, waving our ams wildly about while kicking our legs in time to the music.  Don’t worry- only at stop lights.  😉

I recently brought up these CDs in a homeschooling forum because I wanted to share the wealth of this discovery.  There were a few points brought up by the… uh, classically elite, I guess you would say, who feel that these CDs only serve to add a level of silliness to something that doesn’t need it.  They claimed that by introducing pieces of music this way to children you are forever imprinting these zany lyrics into their head.  One homeschooling dad compared it to begin akin to introducing abridged or watered-down versions of classic literature- something he wouldn’t do.  To each their own I say.

I can only share my experiences with you; and after numerous experiences with these fun and engaging lyrics my children are more inclined to notice classical pieces when played on the TV or radio, when out in public, or hidden in a commercial.  They call attention to specific instruments and name composers with accuracy and dare I admit it– generally faster than I can.  They ask to listen to classical music more often even in its “pure” form.  They hum symphonies while playing with their toys and tap out piano concertos while sitting at the dinner table.  They enjoy the music just as much, if not more than, the silly words.

Each Beethoven’s Wig CD consists of 11 or more classical pieces sung with engaging lyrics and then each song is played in its original version so you can easily do a side-by-side comparison.  After listening almost exclusively to the silly-song versions my daughters have begun asking for specific songs “without the singing” more and more frequently.  I can easily see a natural progression taking place where we will rely less and less on the zany singing antics of Richard Perlmutter and embrace each piece of music by its own merit.  When that day comes I will continue to be grateful to Mr. Perlmutter for his passionate work.  I only wish he would perform live in our area so we can see him in action.  In the meantime, for those of us not on his upcoming tour area we can pacify ourselves with numerous You Tube clips.

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***One last side note- I wanted to mention another resource that I’ve utilized to tie into our classical music exposure.  HBO’s Classical Baby series is a neat supplement to Beethoven’s Wig.  Here my children can hear the original work, minus silly songs, but enjoy a whimsical cartoon to help hold their attention.  Quite a few of the pieces in Beethoven’s Wig can be found on this 3 DVD series. 

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9 Responses to Beethoven’s Wig is {a} Big {Hit}

  1. Terry says:

    Thanks Kristen for blogging about this great CD. I can’t wait to go to the library with my kids to look for it. I love classical music but never know who is playing. thanks again
    Terry

  2. Stellar Progenitor says:

    Sounds great. There’s a reason why they call them the ‘classics.’ Now if Perlmutter could do Holst and the Planets…. 😉 I would love to hear his rendition of ‘Mars.’

  3. Michael says:

    Kristen,
    Thank you for this informative and insightful review. I have heard good things about Beethoven’s Wig by other parents and have been thinking of introducing music appreciation classes and your story inspired me! I am going to order some CDs and introduce my students to the joys of music, starting with Beethoven’s Wig.

  4. Pam says:

    Okay, you convinced me. I bit. 😀 Will let you know how they like it.

  5. Becky says:

    This is such a great story about your girls! I think it’s fantastic; what a way to introduce music to them. Yes, the songs are silly, but watching the video you posted made me laugh. It takes me back to playing the classics when I was 9 or 10 years old, and how I wish I had something like this to spark my interest the way a metronome never could. Thanks for sharing!

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