Monday, November 22, 2010

TOS Review - A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

We were recently given the opportunity to review A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers by Melissa E. Craig and Maggie S. Hogan, published by Bright Ideas Press.  Those familiar with Mystery of History will recognize both Maggie Hogan's name and Bright Ideas Press as they are the same author and publisher of this very popular homeschool history curriculum. :) 

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers is a beautifully bound soft cover book that retails for $34.95. They also have a CD Rom version that sells for $29.95.  You can purchase the composer study here. While I was going through this study with my kids I thought it would be a fun study for a co op setting. On the page I linked they have information for how to order a co op license for this product, which makes it easy and affordable to implement with a group of kids.

The book is 298 pages long and covers the musical periods starting with music in the Middle Ages through the Contemporary period.  Along with discovering the various periods of music, the student is introduced to several composers who lived and created during those time periods. The recommended age range is for 4th-8th grades and was intended to be a one-year curriculum.

Each chapter has interesting background information about each musical period and composer. At the end of each chapter there are note taking pages for the student to write in while reading the chapter.  I used the composer study with my three older girls, ages 13, 11 and 9. They would write while I read then we would go over the answers together at the end of the chapter. This helped my slower writers who would miss the new information while still trying to answer the question before.

Along with information about various musical periods and composers there are Composer Info-cards. Composer-Info cards can be used as flash cards and other fun game type reviews. You simply copy the printed sheet located in the book, fill in the information of the composer, musical period and place the composers picture in the space provided (pictures of all composers are also provided) on the front and on the back, the information goes into even more detail w/ information about where the composer was born, the dates he lived, three facts you've learned about him, two of his compositions and whether there was evidence that would show whether he was a Christian or not.  There is a cut out map on the back of each card, some with the US and Canada present and the others with a map of Europe. Along with the information, we added a star to where our composer came from on the map as another way of reinforcing their geography skills.

There is also a timeline you can print and utilize to understand the connections of each composer to each other and the time period in history.  Along with the timeline they have also provided, full page  outline maps of Europe and the U.S. with little cameo's of each composer along the borders. With these you are to draw a line from the composer to the country they were born in using the same color coding you used for your timeline. Again, another way to reinforce geography and a visual for understanding where each composer lived that even your youngest student can understand.

Also included are coloring pictures of different composers you can print off and color, a composer resource list which gives you additional book suggestions for each composer, links that can help aid your study of each period and information on how to put all this information together into a fun lapbook. :)

Our favorite part of the composer study was the Listening Suggestions. For each period or composer there are several suggested links for the student to listen to followed by some discussion questions about each piece.  While listening to Vivaldi's Spring, we first read the poem he wrote for this piece (something I learned through this book :) ).  I had my girls close their eyes and listen to the entire piece, just listening and enjoying.  Then, on the second listening, I had them answer specific questions about the piece. For this piece we were picking out the various parts of the poem and seeing if we could find those same things in the music.  We could! We heard birds, wind rustling, a quiet brook, a sudden storm with lightening and thunder, the quieting of the storm and the birds returning, a peaceful meadow and on and on and on. It was such a delightful way to dissect a piece of music and even more fun to watch as the girls discovered each element for themselves.  They wanted to go on and read the other three poems of The Four Seasons and listen to those pieces as well.  We spent a good hour just listening and dissecting each sound in the music. Time well spent in my opinion. :)

We have really enjoyed this study and look forward to learning more about the composers and listening to their music. It has become one of my kids favorite lessons during the week.

To see what others on TOS thought of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers or to see what they reviewed, we reviewed a variety of products :), click here.

 I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.


Denise said...

We reviewed & LOVED this study!! We will definitely be finishing the book. I enjoyed your review.

Nikki said...

This sounds like something I'd like to order one day when I'm ready to add composer studies back into our schedule!
Oh! I love your new header! That is an awesome picture!