I am excited to share with you an excellent new resource from Memoria Press – Music Appreciation I. Weaving together a little music history with a study of classical composers and their works, this curriculum gets right to the heart of things.
Designed to be used at the 3rd to 5th grade levels, we have found it to also be an excellent fit for our middle school children. I agreed to review this music appreciation course with my 6th grade daughter but my high schoolers have enjoyed and learned much by sitting in on our lessons and listening to the music compositions. You are never too young or too old to appreciate Handel or Beethoven, Tchaikovsky or Brahms!
Music is one area that has been lacking in my children’s education. For reasons such as cost, time and availability most of our children have not had formal music lessons. This music appreciation course provides an excellent classical foundation for music and is now jump-starting our new passion for getting more music into our lives.
When Music Appreciation I arrived at my doorstep we opened the package to find a soft-back text book and 2 CDs. I skimmed through to get familiar with how the lessons were to be presented. An assumption I made was the music selections would be included on the cd, but instead, it contains samples of music that illustrate different aspects of each lesson. You will find videos of the various compositions on youtube or you may already have them in your own music library. The publisher makes it clear in the introduction you can adapt this to whatever musical level you might already have – novices like us can choose to listen to playlists on youtube or on cd or cassette you already own. Those who have musical training can play the pieces themselves – piano, violin, cello, flute, etc. Hearing the music in whatever form you are able is what makes the course really special.
This course gives you 26 lessons. At a week per lesson this will cover a good part of a school year. You can work as quickly or slowly as you like. For our family, reading through a lesson on the first day of the week, then listening to the selected piece for the week and a review test near the end of the week works for us.
The lessons are laid out in a sort of chronological order, highlighting different composers and their music. You work your way through the Baroque Period, into the Classical Period, on into the Romantic Period and then wrap with a look at more recent composers.
In general, each lessons follows a similar format, with 7 sections. One of my favorite lessons so far was Chapter 5 – Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I’ll use this to illustrate how you might work through the study.
- Listen to the Selection. We have a copy of Mozart’s works on cd so we used this. It was about 5 minutes long, so keeps the attention of younger children as well as teens.
- A Little History and background of the composer. This is where you can keep it simple for children in younger grades or beef it up for older students. I have mine research to find more facts on the composers life. Did you know Mozart created AND performed his music? In a five week span one year he gave 22 concerts!
- About the Piece is where you learn details about the musical piece itself. What does it mean? Why was it written? Who was it written for? Eine Kleine Nachtmusik means “a little night music” in German and while we don’t know why it was written or for whom, Mozart intended for it to be played only once. Yet, it’s one of the most recognizable pieces of classical music. And it makes for great party music! It also makes for excellent dusting music! Play this in the background, put a dusting rag in everyone’s hands and they’ll have the place spic and span while dancing and dusting away to the music.
- Musical Concept will give you and your students insight into things such as form, exposition, development. In Chaper 5 we see how orderly this piece of music is written. It has a specific form, repeating themes in a specific manner. In this section we listened to Tracks 5.1 and 5.2 which allowed us to hear precisely where Theme 1 begins and how Theme 2 was introduced with transitional melodies.
- Music History brings us into the era in which this musical piece was composed. Mozart wrote during a time the transitioned from Baroque music to something termed Classical (1750-1820.) The music from this period has a simplicity and purity that brings elegant and beautiful melodies to us.
- Facts to Remember gives us a checklist of sorts. This is where I get my cues as to what important facts my children should be taking away from their lesson.
- Listen Again. (and again and again.) The goal is to be able to recognize the themes or movements, the composer and possibly the instruments in a particular piece. Listening every day as you work and play makes it familiar to your student. If you have musicians in the house, playing it would be an added bonus!
There are 7 review tests provided at the back of the book (with answer keys!) so that gives me a review test for my children about every four weeks. The music is enjoyable to listen to, the material is interesting and works well for multiple students as well as for a single child. As I mentioned earlier this was written for children in grades 3 through 5 but works well for many different age levels.
Once again I am impressed with the materials from Memoria Press. My teens have loved their literature study of Homer’s Odyssey and using Latina Christiana is giving my children a good foundation in Latin. I am kind of wishing I had used their Traditional Spelling I when I had children in younger grades.
You can learn more about Memoria Press materials from my fellow Homeschool Crew Mates – just click on the image below to read their reviews!