Rationale and Goals:
I decided to start listening to musicals with Luke (age 4) and Lilah (age 2) because they LOVE music and they LOVE stories, so musicals combine the best of both worlds. I think it’s never too early to start developing “well-roundedness” and a little culture. Plus, I think in addition to giving them an appreciation for music, it will also help increase their listening attention spans and comprehension. Not to mention, I personally haven’t listened to very many musicals myself, so it’ll be educational for me as well.
My goal is to listen to a new musical with the kids each week. We probably won’t listen to the full musical every day during the week, but the plan is to hear it at least a few times so that it starts to become familiar. While we will sometimes do other activities along with the musical, our main goal will really be just to listen. I am honestly really looking forward to our musical adventures to come!
For week #1 I chose to start with Cats: the Musical.
I wanted to start with Cats because when I was a teacher we took our 5th graders to see it because they had studied it in music class, so I knew it was appealing to children. I remembered it as having lots of fun, energetic songs that I thought L&L would really appreciate. I happened to already have “Selections from Cats” downloaded in iTunes, so we just used this version which is an hour-long abridged version. In the future, I hope to buy the full version, but until then, here is a free option I just arranged: you can listen to the whole album on Grooveshark (streaming) for free!
Introducing the Musical:
I didn’t do much of an introduction before starting the music for the first time other than to tell L&L we were going to listen to a musical called Cats. I turned it on and let it go. I was honestly really surprised that they listened, danced, and laughed through most of it. Even though I intended it to just be music to listen to while they played for the most part, they were REALLY into it. I was also happy to see them (without instruction) moving to the beat and mood of the music — really fast and silly at times, and really slow and deliberate at others. During one particular song with frenzied music, Luke even commented, “I think the cats are being captured right now!” which made me really happy that he was associating the tone of the music to something that might be happening in the storyline!
The Rest of the Week:
We listened to the musical one or two times each day for the rest of the week. One day Luke came down from nap and the first thing he said was, “Can you turn on that musical? Cats.” I happily obliged. Another day the kids pointed out that Lilah had dots on her dress like in one of the songs there is a cat named Jennyanydots. One evening we were playing outside and DH asked the kids what music they would like to listen to on the outside speakers, to which both kids chimed in chorus, “CATS!” I am beyond excited that they love it so much!
L&L’s favorite song of the lot is probably, “The Old Gumbie Cat.” They seem to like that one because it has a slow part and a fast part, and they like to move around differently to the two contrasting parts.
- I found a used copy of the book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot (the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats) which I think L&L will enjoy listening to as a read-aloud now that they like the songs so much.
- While we’ll be moving on to other musicals, we’ll still play this one occasionally and as requested.
- I’d like to watch Cats: The Musical on DVD with L&L at some point. I may try viewing certain songs on YouTube first to see if they are interested before borrowing, renting, or buying the DVD. If they seem interested in this, I’ll start paying attention for any live shows in the area, too.
- Cats: Complete Original Broadway Cast Recording (full album)
- Selections from Cats (abridged album)
- Cats: the Musical on Grooveshark (entire album; FREE to stream!)
- Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (book that inspired the musical)
- “Cats” videos on YouTube (I’d always view first to make sure they’re appropriate and that you’re actually getting what you think you are before showing to the kids!!)
- Cats: the Musical DVD
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