Some days I feel like my kids are second-class homeschoolers. Almost every other homeschooling family I know is paying to put their kids in some kind of music class. Weather it’s piano, guitar, viola, or flute, they are paying for these super expensive music lessons. Sadly, our family is unable to pay for music lessons for all 9 of our kids. So I signed-up our kids for our parish’s children’s choir. Unfortunately, since our kids were the only ones to join, the choir soon disbanded.
I was in the choir as a teen and I’ve been told I’m a good singer, so my husband and I asked our parish priest for a few extra music books like those we had at the church. We started singing Mass songs each evening with the kids. My oldest became quite good at singing a capella and I’ve been very pleased with her growing talent – especially since she learned from an amateur vocal teacher (me).
Singing church music is a great way to teach kids a few basics, but I was looking for another way to teach music that would help them to understand music history, vocabulary, as well as, learn a little about how important music is. Many of the early composers played their music in Catholic Churches and they built the foundation of the music which the Catholic Church uses today. I thought it would be interesting to learn about the lives of these composers.
The Great Musicians Series has a number of books about these early church composers, as well as many other famous composers. I tried one of these book sets out last year. For our first year we choose Bach.
The main book is a story book which tells all about Sebastian Bach. The story is cute and draws you into Bach’s world. It tells about his childhood, his family, and his career.
I also bought the companion CD which has samples of his music. These samples are meant to be played during many different parts of the book. The CD not only includes the MP3 music samples, it also includes printable coloring pages and sheet music (not that my kids can use the sheet music!).
The study guide was also a great help. It gave a short synopsis of the reader, discussion questions, a timeline, plus, some other interesting facts.
I used this set it for all my elementary level (grades 2 – 7) kids. It was an easy read for the older kids and too hard for the youngest, but understandable as a whole.
When I first introduced this book and CD to my kids they were very unhappy with the idea. They seemed to think that it was going to be “boring elevator music”, but by the end of the book they were sad it was over. I’ve seen a change in their attitude about music. It opened their ears to hearing the heart and soul of the sounds that these composers put together. It’s even more uplifting when one of the kids gets excited and points to the name of a familiar composer in the Mass music book at church! 🙂
Here are a few notebooking pages which I created to accompany this book and the music:
Music Appreciation: Listening to Music
This is a free worksheet which allows kids to write down the background information (e.g.: the composer, type, year composed) of a piece of music which they are listening to. Their is also space for the children to write down their thoughts about the music. It can be used along with the Great Musicians Series or along with ANY music appreciation program.
Note: If we couldn’t find a exact date that the piece was written we just wrote the years of the composers life spanned.
Sebastian Bach ……. (Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Motzart ………………. (Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Joseph Haydn ……… (Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Beethoven …………… (Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Franz Schubert ………(Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Johannes Brahms … (Reader) (CD) (Study Guide)
Check out all the other music books by Opal Wheeler : HERE
No, these books are not the same as learning to play an instrument, but they are great books to teach music history. And I plan to use them until the day we can actually afford to pay for guitar or piano lessons. Then, on that day, we can stop searching YouTube for free lessons! 🙂 Hey, YouTube is a great resource for free lessons. Just don’t expect to get professional results!
How do you teach music to your kids?