Since the Government announced school closures, parents have been dealing with learning to home-school their children. Arguably, some lessons are easier to home-school teach than others. Some subjects such as maths can potentially be taught using the school book and exercises. And crucially, the answers are generally right or wrong.
However, subjects such as music, drama and art might seem more intimidating to teach to a child without experience or skill in them. There are some fantastic online resources for music to help to educate and inspire children during this time without their music teachers. Having access to live concerts can be costly and inaccessible. One of the benefits of the current lockdown is that concerts, operas and plays are being made available for free online.
Backtrack are showing operas and classical music concerts - and there are some specifically for children. Humperdink's opera Hansel and Gretel (originally in German) is the well known story about the witch and the the two children Hansel and Gretel who get lost in the woods following breadcrumbs. The music is magnificent featuring some lovely tunes. Here, via BachTrack on Digital Concert Hall you can watch a version of Hansel and Gretel especially for children: it's free (you just have to register with Digital Concert Hall), and it's abridged at 66 minutes long.
Wondering how to approach an opera? Here are some suggestions for how to introduce your child/children to it:
1. Start with the story. Consider even leaving the word opera out: it can conjure up all sorts of things that may seem inaccessible. All operas start with a 'libretto' which is the text, and they all have a story and characters, however simple or complex.
2. Ask your child to Google the composer and find out some key facts, such as what country they are from, and the years they were alive.
3. Listen and watch in chunks. Operas are well known for being lengthy - but with the On Demand feature, you can easily watch them in bits and this makes it far more enjoyable and manageable if attention spans wander.
4. Talk about it. Ask 'what did they like' and 'what didn't they like'? Everyone's opinion is valid and it's good to discuss it. Did the children like the costumes, what did they think of the music? Would they recommend it? Would they like to find out a bit more about the composer?
And finally, remember that every opera is different. Not liking one doesn't mean you won't like a different one.
However, we never lose sight of the fun and excitement of the fairy tale: at the end, all the children at the concert help to free Hänsel und Gretel from the clutches of the witch with a magic spell, so everyone lives happily ever after.