Listening Maps

Should children listen to classical music? Absolutely!

Evidence is clear that the benefits of learning the classics go beyond simple enjoyment of music. The classics carry the organizational features and patterns of our culture, and systematic listening over time develops cognitive pathways that enhance learning. When this music is presented in engaging, developmentally appropriate ways, children learn to love the classics, and begin to distinguish between the many genres, periods, and styles.

Try out the listening map for Bach's "Rondeau."Listening maps help children focus on listening selections through visual representation of sound. A good map provides representation of important features. They may provide pictoral or graphic icons for melody, rhythm, themes, form, dynamics, tempo, and so on. Or they may contain historical and/or cultural information reflected in the styles and images used on the map.

After children have followed a few listening maps, perhaps using the Music Memory program with engaging color transparencies, they can begin making their own maps. You might start with clear musical examples like those on the IDEAS Music CD. I especially like "Contrasts" for this activity because the children seem to make up their own stories inspired by the musical events.

Allison Abucewicz at Lyman School reproduced the "Rondeau" map from Music Memory Series I, Grades 3/4, with empty boxes. Her students created their own images using the original map as a guide, choosing images related to a theme of their own choosing (flowers, animals, party favors, and so on). She reported that the children listened again and again to be certain their images fit the melodic contours of the piece exactly. This kind of repetitive listening and interactive activity can help children make the music their own, a part of their music memory forever.

What a great way to develop listening skills through hands on learning!


In actual use, the maps are followed as the piece plays in its entirety.

In this case we have broken the music into segments so you can follow the map. (Note that the first A section is repeated when the entire piece is being played. The C section has been broken into two parts here.)

Click on each line of the listening map to hear that section of the music. Notice how the figures go up and down, swirl or step, to depict the music.

A1 B A2 C1 C2 A3