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.

Download it for FREE from our shop!
Music Vocabulary Worksheets
My kids used this sheet to write down any music related words they didn’t understand. Usually, they were unfamiliar words which were in the story about the composer. Once we finished reading the chapter or paragraph we looked them up and wrote down the definition. The kids drew a picture of the idea/item if they could.
This year I plan to have my kids read about Joseph Haydn and Beethoven.  There are many different composers to choose from:

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?

Till Later, God Bless,


  1. We have enjoyed these books for a long time. Our library carries them. I didn't realize that there are CDs available to go along with them.

  2. We are blessed to have a local co-op that is so affordable. I pay less a month than most people pay per a lesson. (It is only costing me about $150 for the entire year of violin lessons.) If you are looking for a good starter instrument that is easy to learn and cheap, our co-op recently started teaching the younger kids recorder. They each got a \”teach yourself\” book and recorder for about $10. We are blessed to have the co-op for sure but I have always made sure to have instruments for the kids to test out–mostly percussion, but we also have a keyboard that we got at a yard sale for $20. I got my daughter a set of color coded bells that came with music that is also color coded. she really enjoys playing them and now that she is beginning to read music, she has branched out into other songs. I think with music, the most important thing is exposure. The books your shared look great. I am thinking of getting a couple to use at home, since the children are not learning music history at co-op.You may want to check out \”Making Music, Praying Twice\” it is a great family music program. The woman that developed it is a fellow Catholic homeschooler and so nice and helpful. (I met her at a conference when I was just starting homeschooling.)I hope that wasn't too rambling of a comment.

  3. Hi Christine, I never thought about checking our library. That's a great idea! Sadly, I just checked our library's on-line catalog and they don't have them. [-( Oh well, it was a nice thought. Our library system is tiny. They never have the books I want. Especially, Catholic ones. The CDs are great! They really helped my kids get into it!

  4. Hi Jennifer, Your co-op is a blessing! Thanks for all the great ideas! We have tried a few simple instruments like the Music Maker wooden box harp, the recorder, wooden xylophone, etc. And we have a full sized piano sitting in our house, but no one can play it! I've wanted lessons since I was a child, but I could never get them. We've dabbled in learning how to use it, but so far we can only play simple one-handed songs. I figure one of these days I just might get lessons. I thought If I could get the lessons then I could teach the kids, but I have very little time to give up to get the lessons and practice anyway. I've heard of \”Making Music, Praying Twice\”. I've never check into it, but I should check it out. Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't see any rambling in your comment. I enjoyed it immensely! God Bless.

  5. This is great! I finally found a book that taught piano in a way I could understand (I don't have it around at the moment, otherwise I would provide the name), and I want to be able to teach music to my sister, as well as my future kids. Thank you for this very helpful post!

  6. Hi Alyianna! It's great that you could help your sister like that! And it's wonderful that you are preparing for the future. If you happen to remember the name of the book, please let me know.Thanks so much!

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