Music corner: how to create one + our favorite musical books and CDs

If you are following us on Instagram, you might have seen pictures of our musical corner that I have created  at the beginning of this year for my daughter. We have a musical corner since she was about 17 months.

When she was only 3 months we started a fun musical class called Music Together. We were in Beijing at that time and I saw it more as an opportunity to meet other parents as we had just moved to China and I didn't know many people there. It turned out to be a great opportunity to meet other parents but also a wonderful musical initiation for my daughter. I'm pretty sure that her love for music and dance started back then. 

When she was 18 months we showed her how to use our CD player. She loved playing her Music Together CDs but also our CDs. Despite the fact that she carefully handled them, one of my favorite CDs was broken. I was sad but I know that from this experience she learned how fragile these objects are.

At the beginning we had a little table, our CD player, some CDs and a few instruments. With her growing interest in music and dance, especially classical music and ballet, her CDs collection and musical books collection became bigger so I have decided to make more space for her.

In our living room we have this shelf for music that we all share. The CD player is for everybody. Her CDs are stored in a little box and her books in a little book shelf. She also has some real instruments and some good children-size ones.

 
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When it comes to setting up a musical corner I think that 5 things are important:

  1. make a CD player accessible and show to your little one how to use it safely and carefully
  2. choose good quality musical performances. Avoid having only children's music. Instead, look for good performances of classical music, jazz, and any music you like. Performed by real instruments.
  3. choose good visual supports. I have noticed that children can focus more if classical music is accompanied by a books with beautiful illustrations (I'm going to show you some examples of books + CDs)
  4. have a few real instruments, child-size if possible (but adult size instruments are fascinating for children too). I have found beautiful traditional instruments while traveling (or from friends and family travelling). Also, living in Germany, we are lucky to find beautifully hand-crafted wooden instruments on the Christmas markets. But you can also find some (German) brands online: Corvus and Goldon make good child-size instruments that don't look like toys (not "kiddy" versions of instruments). 
  5. share your passion. If you love music, if you play an instrument, share this passion with your child. When they are little, children tend to love what you love. So tell them about your favorite band, play your favorite music or your instrument(s). It doesn't matter if you are not playing perfectly or if you don't know much about the music you like, what your child will see is the passion in your eyes.
 
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And promised on Instagram, I'm going to shed with you our favorite musical books:

  •  "Pierre et le Loup" (Peter and the Wolf), music by Serge Prokofiev. This was the first musical book we bought. It comes with a book (that you can also read independently) and a CD where the story is read by a famous French actor Bernard Girardeau and the music is performed by Orchestre National de France. There are similar versions of this books in other languages, I'm sure I have seen them at least in English and German
  •  "The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker", music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky a gorgeous audio book that accompanied us in winter. The illustration are beautiful, the story tells the fairy tale written by Austrian writer E.T.A. Hoffman who inspired Tchaikosky to compose the music. The sound is pretty good for an audio book but I wanted my daughter to listen to the real music too so I accompanied this book with a CD of The Nutcracker performed by the Berliner Orchestra
  • "Le voyage des quatre saisons (original name: The Story Orchestra, Four Seasons in One Day)", music by Antonio Vivaldi. We introduced this book this spring and I'm still looking for the right performance of Vivaldi (there are so many), but I will definitely buy a CD with the original music although, again, the sound of this audio book is pretty good.
  • Usborne Musical Books "First book about the Orchestra", a good initiation to the different instruments of an orchestra
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We also LOVE these 3 books accompanied each of them by a CD (I'm sure you saw them on my Instagram account, as we listen to them almost every day since we have them)- probably one of the best purchases we've made. They are in French, but you'll enjoy them no matter which language you are speaking. To each piece of classical music on the CD corresponds an illustration and a very short text (in French). This books opened my daughter's curiosity for opera, ballet and symphonies. And (this I couldn't predict) she learned the numbers because she looked for the correspondance between the CD and the book.

So here they are:

  • "Mes plus belles musiques de piano"
  • "Mes plus belles musiques classiques- 1"
  • "Mes plus belles musiques classiques-2"
 
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In her little box for CDs we have:

- "The Carnaval of Animals" by Camille Saint-Saëns: we started our classical music journey with this one

- "Pierre et le loup" (Peter and the Wolf) by Serge Prokofief

- "The Nutcracker" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky performed by Berliner Philharmoniker

- the Music Together CDs which are a wonderful collection of traditional songs from all over the world, ancient songs and more modern ones

- the CDs from the 3 musical books recommended above.

 
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Both my husband and I share some of our favorite music with our daughter and so she will also be heard singing Daft Punk and E.S.T Esbjörn Svensson Trio

I would love to hear about your favorite musical books and how you set up your musical shelves or corners.

 
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