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If You Are Planning To Take Your Child to a Performance of the Nutcracker Ballet...

LITTLE KIDS & THE NUTCRACKER BALLET

'Tis the season again, and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet is a wonderful treat for children and adults. If you are planning to take your young child to a performance,  I highly recommend familiarizing yourself and your child with the music as well as the story before attending the event.
I found a wonderful site for purchasing a lovely download of the ballet characters in puppet form here:
http://shop.sarahjanestudios.com/pages/press.


I made these Sarah Jane Studios stick puppets for my preschool music classes and then I was able to use them to tell the story the way I thought most appropriate for the varying age groups. 

In the story of the Nutcracker, Clara and her brother are very excited about the big holiday party at their house and both are thrilled when they see Uncle Drosselmier arrive! He is a toymaker and always brings fantastic toys for the children. However, Clara's brother, Fritz, gets jealous of Clara's special nutcracker toy and he ends up grabbing it, calling it "ugly",  and throwing it across the room. 

As a result, the nutcracker gets a cracked head and Clara has to tie a red ribbon around to repair it. At this point, I added my own part of the story saying that when Fritz realized his misdeed, he apologized to his sister. 

For the older children, I included the "Battle Between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker" and played a little of the "battle music" because it is so dynamic! 

For the younger groups (2's and 3's) I skipped the battle and went straight to Clara falling asleep with her nutcracker toy in her arms and then dreaming of him turning into the Prince from the Kingdom of the Sweets. 

Then, the story can quickly move to the part about the big celebration at the Prince's castle and the little children seemed to enjoy hearing about the dancers (and seeing the puppets): The Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy, "Chocolate" the Spanish dancer, and the dancers from the land of Chinese Tea and Arabian Coffee. I played very short excerpts of these dances, so that the children would hear the wonderful music, but would only have to sit attentively for no longer than five minutes! 

I told the children that after the special dances, the Prince and Clara traveled back home in a magic sleigh and then Clara woke up from her dream and found her nutcracker safe in her arms. 

Finally, we got the triangles out and played along to some simple piano versions of songs from the ballet. 
The music downloads I used are:
  • Royal Concertebouv Orchestra: "Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite"
  • Rob Thaller's "Music For Ballet Class: Nutcracker
Over the past 2 weeks I have also played excerpts from the following for movement fun:
  • Max and Ruby: "The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet"
  • Arthur Hannes:  "The Story of Tchaikovsky"
  • Mad Theatricals: "Clara's Dream"
  • Son of a Nutcracker: "Tiptoe through the House"
  • Cardio Workout Classics: "The Nutcracker Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"
  • Hovedeen Social Club: "Cuban Sugar---Sugar Plum Fairy"
Lots of holiday fun with a little classical music appreciation too!



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