Here at Homeschoolpool.info we are a musical family. Bed time routine hinges around songs and while not everyone plays an instrument, everyone appreciates music from the Lifeguards to Tadpole, Guppy and Minnow.
Getting them to understand what they like and how it affects them is a different matter as well as getting them to actively listen to longer classical pieces. Yes, they’ll listen to the beginning of the 4th Movement of Dvorak’s 9th (New World) Symphony, but after the introduction that John Williams borrowed for Jaws, their attention dissipates quickly.
One exercise to encourage active listening is to give children something to do while listening. This is guided at first then takes on a life of its own as the piece goes. The aforementioned Dvorak piece is an EXCELLENT starting place for this as it has the feel of a story and the movie tie-in helps start the story. Around our house, we have animal sounds that we work on with Minnow and for fun we say a shark says “da-dun” like Jaws/Dvorak 9. Starting with a shark drawn on a piece of paper is a good start. The kids then choose a crayon or two to use for the exercise. The piece starts and so does the sharks journey. The kids are instructed to draw the shark’s journey on the paper. Slow passages mean slower movement and fast movement means faster travels. For slightly older kids, they can decide whether or not the shark is hunting and draw what it is going to eat if they want as well. This can progress for the entire 10 minute duration or for a portion, depending on how it goes. This is how it should look:
This exercise can be applied to other pieces as well, minus the shark portion. It is to get the child to listen and apply what they hear to paper. They can then go back and see how the music affected them and possible talk about what made a specific scribble/doodle on the page.