Monday, November 22, 2010

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers Review

A Young Scholars Guide to Composers
Bright Ideas Press

Authors - Melissa E. Craig & Maggie S. Hogan

Cost - $34.95 Paperback, $29.95 CD Book

Ages – 4th to 8th Grade

Let me just start by saying, I love this book!

This is one of the most organized, well-thought-out books I have ever used. The authors are not only very knowledgeable about their topic, the composers, but they have also created a tool kit for helping students of all ages enjoy learning about them.

There are thirty two lessons that can be completed over the course of a year. Four different periods are covered along with composers from each of those periods. Each lesson ends with fill-in-the-blank note taking pages that help the student to follow along with the content as it is presented and learn from it. Many curricula stop there; however, the authors take the lesson much farther providing numerous activities to help students really understand the composer, his music, his life, his place in history and his faith.

The first thing I appreciated were the links provided so that we could listen to the works of the different composers. I wasn’t sure when I received the textbook how I was going to gain access to all of the music so that my boys could listen while they learn. Of course, that was all taken care of. The text provides urls to online sites (primarily youtube) where we can listen to the works of the composers. In addition to the links, questions are included so that parents can help their student think about what is happening in the composition. When we were able, I checked out a CD from the library. We could then listen to the music as we went about our travels.

Students create “Composer Info Cards” for each composer that they study. A sketched picture of each composer is provided so that the students have a visual image of who he is. The back of each card has his geographic location and asks the student to fill in his life, facts about him, his compositions, and what evidence they have about whether or not the composer is a Christian. These were wonderful – they really allow for greater exploration of who the composer is. We’ve all heard about Bach, or Haydn, or Mozart, but what do we really know about them? Additionally, the cards serve as a great reference for study and retention.

In addition, maps are provided so that the student understands where each of the composers came from. We really liked this. It was neat to see how many modern composers come from America in addition to the ones we knew were from Europe.

A timeline that students develop is provided that allows the students to get a sense of when these people existed in history. We used these timelines to discuss what was going on in the world at the time that these composers lived. (See the timeline answer key here to get a sense of how it works.) It was interesting to see composers that lived during the same timeframe and the impact they had on one another. These timelines go right up to modern day with composers like John Williams whose work was used in the Star Wars sagas.

Finally, there are games like Composer Bingo and Composer Jeopardy to really help the student practice what they have learned and commit the information to memory. Coloring pages are included for younger kids.

This one book is a wealth of information. Students not only study composers, but they get lessons in geography, history, and musical composition. I wish I could have had this text a long time ago, and I’m so glad I was blessed with the opportunity to use it now.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to teach their student about the composers past to present.

Don't just take my word for it, take a look - view sample pages here.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

*** I received a copy of this book free of charge for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, April, we also reviewed & LOVED this program! Definitely well organized & thought out! My kids really are enjoying it! Great review. : )


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!