Textbook teaches stories with music

September 29, 1997


Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Tod Kline believes the best way to teach classical music to kids is keep it fun, short and catchy.

Kline, 39, a Waynesboro Area School District elementary music teacher, found so much success in the formula that he's written a book to share his ideas with other teachers.

"Classic Tunes and Tales" comes out in November. More than 50,000 copies could be printed. Kline said it's a book written by a music teacher for music teachers.


Kline uses popular works of the great composers to turn kids onto the world's better music.

He begins kindergartners with one of the world's most recognizable classics - Rossini's "William Tell Overture," and moves to more complicated pieces as the grades progress. Seventh- and eighth-graders get operas, many of which Kline said he "waters down" to meet the demands of the politically correct 1990s.

"Children love short stories and catchy tunes," he said. "Playing an entire piece to children doesn't work. They lose interest and I don't blame them. Most adults would, too. That's why I stick to main themes.

"It's wonderful to hear students humming Bach's `Fugue,' Verdi's `Rigoletto,' or Beethoven's `Fifth Symphony' in the halls. They see a television commercial with `Ode to Joy' as background music and they recognize Beethoven," he said.

"Telling stories through music motivates them to learn the classics," Kline said.

"It's a story in music built around a lesson. It teaches a musical concept and promotes an appreciation for the great classics," he said.

Kline developed the system over three years by trial and error, some research and by talking with other music teachers. He submitted proposals to five publishers before the idea was grabbed by Prentiss Hall.

Illustrations in the book, which runs for 350 pages, were done by Kline's sister, Toya B. Warner.

The book will be marketed nationally through catalogs, bookstores and at colleges and universities, he said.

He signed an option for a second book, he said.

Kline is a 1976 graduate of Waynesboro Area High Senior High School. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina, where he studied guitar under Jesus Silva, a protege of Andres Segovia, the famed classical guitarist. He performed solo for several years in concerts at Rice University in Texas, and Catholic and Georgetown universities in Washington, D.C.

He also taught music at Shippensburg University, Penn State and Mercersburg Academy. He quit performing to get a teaching certificate at Gettysburg College.

"I felt that I enjoyed teaching more," he said.

He has since earned a master's degree in school administration from Western Maryland College and is taking post-graduate courses at Shippensburg. He wants to become an administrator.

His day job in the meantime is teaching music at Hooverville and Mowrey elementary schools.

The Herald-Mail Articles