Thursday, April 3, 2008

Composer Study

Since this blog is supposed to have something to do with school :) I thought I would share what we do for our music studies. My primary goals in this area are 1) to foster a love of great music and 2) to instill in them a familiarity with some of the greatest pieces of music. Similar to poetry, I have found that a Charlotte Mason approach works best for us in this area. I select three composers each year. I use the Ambleside lists as a guide in helping me select, but do not follow them exactly, since often I will base my choice on the interests of the kids. I try to have at least one good CD of that composer's music (I have found that My Father's World has a wonderful selection of composer CD's) and if possible a biography style CD. We especially love the Classical Kids CD's such as Beethoven Lives Upstairs. At the beginning of the year I will introduce the composer by reading a few things about his life (from The Story of the Orchestra or other resource), then I will introduce a specific piece by that composer. We listen to that piece of music every day at snack time (or lunch time if we do not have a snack). We will stay with the same piece of music for 2-3 weeks, then move on to a new piece by that same composer. I tell them the name of the piece, but we do not spend any time discussing it unless they ask a question. After we have covered 3-4 pieces by a composer, we move on the next composer. I have been amazed by how much they have internalized just by doing this, and best of all, they really enjoy it, and it has become a part of our life, instead of a school assignment. Now that we have covered a number of composers, I will sometimes ask them if they want to hear a particular one for lunch, and I am always amazed by how strongly they will lobby for their favorites!


Erin said...

I was just talking about this approach with 6yo's piano teacher and her husband. They are both doctoral students in music and they are Orthodox. (She is my goddaughter!) He is a very talented composer, pianist, organist and singer. Anyway, they both thought this was a great approach and encouraged us to do this next year in the place of our K12 music. But, he had some specific suggestions for how to pick composers and how to order the lists of who you introduce first, etc. His thoughts kind of surprised me, but when he explained his logic it made LOTS of sense. And it just so happens that it would be very Orthodoxy-friendly, too. He's making me a list. Would you like me to pass it on?

Tonia said...

I've been reading more about C. Mason's philosophies and love the way Ambleside does the composer study. It is nice to read about someone applying the principles. I will be referring to this again, I am sure! Thanks for sharing!