Boston Pops, 4th of July, and Music

I moved to Massachusetts in 1984.  Since then, I have faithfully watched the Boston Pops perform every Fourth of July.  Back then, John Williams was the conductor.  He was the man who wrote the music for my favorite movies, “ET”, “Indiana Jones” and “Jaws”.  I couldn’t believe he was conducting the orchestra I was watching.  This was seeing all that I had been listening to for many years.  I was hooked on ‘Pops Goes the Fourth’.

Here’s what matters: their music is universal, from opera to pop to country, and everything in between.  Exposure!  Children need to hear music and see music performed.  They need to listen to different sounds; not just high and low, but sounds that make them feel and wonder.  They need to see a variety of instruments, looking and listening to the sounds they make.  They need to watch musicians play the instruments so they can make a connection with sound.  They need to wonder what it would be like to blow a horn or prop up a cello, or pull a bow across strings.  They need to imagine doing just that in order to make music.

A few years ago I watched Melinda Doolittle sing.  One of the best parts of her performance was her saxophone player.  Then, there was the Sons of Serendipity with their harp and cello.  The sounds of those instruments took me to another place.  I thought,

“What if someone asked me who the artists or composers are, or what the titles of the songs are, or how I explain music to children.”

Instinctively I knew the answer.  Appreciating and understanding music comes from listening and looking, feeling and exploring.  It includes both vocal and instruments.  That’s what I do.  Can a preschooler love Vivaldi or the cello?  You bet!  The Boston Pops concert does that every year.  So do I.  Rarely do we listen to ‘children’s songs’.  We move, feeling the beat.  We listen to classical music (often painting while listening), popular music, patriotic music.  “How does that make you feel”, I ask.  We learn about different instruments and their sounds.  Best of all, guests come and play for us.  And, I play the autoharp.  In the words of Hans Christian Anderson, “Where words fail, music speaks.”




When I was a child I loved Mickey Mouse cartoons.  I vividly remember the one with the orchestra and the wind blowing away all the musicians.  I also loved Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.  It was adulthood before I realized that classical music was the foundation for those cartoons and movies.  Walt Disney did for children what the Boston Pops does for people; bringing a variety of music and instruments into an ‘every day life’.  Genius!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in American flag, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, music, patriotism, Singing, Teaching young children, The Arts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Boston Pops, 4th of July, and Music

  1. beetleypete says:

    Great to see the kids relishing the instruments, Jennie. I learned the orchestral double bass at school, but sadly didn’t continue with it. Even just making a sound on any instrument can be a joy. Check out this children’s book, by my blogging friend, Nicholas. Animals who are instruments, the perfect pairing! 🙂

    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Pete. They love to feel, touch, and play. We often talk about vibration- they loved feeling the horn when it blew. Yes, just making a sound is a joy. Good for you that you played the double bass. I do know the children’s book! Best to you, Pete.

  2. John Kraft says:

    I read your words this morning and I found myself speaking out loud , “Yes, yes, yes!” I have encouraged people to let their kids see the music as well as hear it.

    Nicely expressed, Jennie.

  3. Another truly lovely post, Jennie. I remember an early teacher of mine trying to do something similar, but there were no instruments to show with the telling. You inspire. Happy Fourth of July hugs!

  4. John Fioravanti says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take your preschoolers on a field trip to a Boston Pops concert! I love listening to a full orchestra playing pop music like the Boston Pops playing Beatles songs.

  5. Darlene says:

    My grade three teacher brought in her portable record player and played the Grand Canyon Suite for us. Even though we were prairie farm kids who had never traveled anywhere outside our small community, we felt like we were there in the Grand Canyon. Something i have never forgotten.

  6. Couldn’t agree with you more, Jennie, that kids need to see music as well as hear it! Lovely post. Happy 4th!

  7. Really good points, Jennie. My daughter played the violin, the Suzuki Method, and got to play amazing classical music even as an amateur. It has made a difference to her even as an adult.

    BTW, teacher to teacher, both my kids spent their formative years playing instruments and both excel at math. Interesting.

    • Jennie says:

      Wonderful, Jacqui. It makes a big difference. And, music and math are definitely connected. One of the reasons I am a strong supporter of the arts.

  8. Ritu says:

    Happy 4th July!!!!

  9. srbottch says:

    I think some of Disney’s genius rubbed off on you, Jennie. It’s terrific how you expose the children to this medium. Enjoy the holiday and the music. And, Happy Birthday, America!

  10. Dan Antion says:

    This is such an important aspect of culture to expose the children to, and to make it part of their early education is a wonderful thing. Good for you, Jennie – enjoy the concert.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from Jennie!

  12. Ellen says:

    A lovely post for this holiday. Music, like reading, can never be introduced too soon to children. Being present at many of the Boston Pops 4th of July performances has always been among my greatest memories. I remember fondly being present when Arthur Fiedler was conducting. John Williams and Keith Lockhart performances were shared with my children. “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato. Happy 4th of July! Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      This is so wonderful, Ellen! I did not know Plato’s quote, so a big thank you for that. Arthur Fiedler was Mr. Boston Pops, the original. He was still the conductor the first year or two we were here. The man! And following him we adored John Williams. And now, Keith Lockhart. Wonderful! I’m watching as I type this. You and your children were lucky to have been there. Me, too. 🙂 And yes, music can never be introduced too early. Best to you, Ellen.

  13. Yet it remains a mystery to me why the it is the humble bagpipe which can inspire millions to march into uncertain battle…Even with myself being of Scots Irish descent … But there is nothing like their hypnotic sound that never ceases to rouse the sleepy soul! It is the bagpipe that I will follow anywhere…

  14. I was commenting just the other day about how people who write poetry usually love music and are musical. They also love words and descriptions. I remember Fantasia too. Walt Disney was a genius although I am sure he would be most upset about some of the stuff that goes out under his name these days. Great post, Jennie.

  15. Great explanation of how to share music with children. I love the Boston Pops, too!

    • Jennie says:

      They’re pretty special. Making music universal and inviting for everyone is huge, and they do it well. They certainly inspire me to share all kinds of music in my classroom.

  16. Awesome post! This year was my first time seeing the Boston Pops performance and I loved it 🙂

  17. You have your own particular genius, Jennie. With you, it always comes back to “How will this benefit/impact the children?”

    It’s an important measure, both for individuals and societies, and I’d like to thank you here for continually bringing it to our attention. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      That is so nice, Cathleen. Thank you. You’re right that I always, and first, think about how it will benefit the children. It would never occur to me to do it any other way. I believe you are right, that it’s an important measure for people and societies. 😊

  18. Oh Jennie, this is great. I am glad more than I can write in this comment that you are helping kids explore and experience music. That is such a gift and so awesome!! Thank you for sharing this.
    Love Debbie

  19. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    I loved Milly’s Story by Jennie and I thought I would Reblog one each day for those who may have missed this heartwarming, healing, story that changed her students lives by being apart of what will now be a legacy of beauty, a beautiful quilt for America, in the National Liberty Museum and for our soldiers, at the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital. An unforgettable story.

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