Simple steps for composer study
There are many ways to add some classical music to your homeschooling day. You could combine it with your history studies, follow a chronological timeline, or study a specific musical period. While I like the idea of folding music into history I think it’s better left to the middle grade years when students can follow a more logical progression and see the flow of musical history within the role of historical events. For the elementary years I prefer something far more simple.
Each year we choose 6 composers that interest us. We spend 6 weeks learning about and listening to one composer. Then we repeat that sequence for another composer over the following 6 weeks (6 composers, 6 weeks each for a total of 36 weeks). Our goal at this stage is all about exploration and learning and maybe even finding a new favorite composer or two.
Don’t you just love it when your kid says, “I love Vivaldi!”?
Composer Study in Action
After you’ve chosen your 6 composers, pick one and begin! Here’s what we do:
- Tack a picture of the composer to the bulletin board
- Get some books and CDs from the library
- Each week listen to some music (CDs or YouTube) at various times during the week (I like to listen in the morning, while we’re working on map skills, or during tea time)
- Once or twice a term read a book about the composer (I like to do one read aloud and have my daughter read another book independently)
- Add the composer to our timeline and/or lapbook (see the info. about the Composer Activity Pak below)
- Fill out one music appreciation or quiet listening page for each composer
These activities are spread out over 6 weeks, making it very manageable to add just a few minutes each week without feeling overwhelmed. Here are some resources that work so perfectly with this simple method:
I love the Composer Activity Pak from Homeschool in the Woods. We put most the lapbook together over one school year (younger students will need more help with this project) but we add the various composers (minibooks, timeline, and music appreciation page) as we study them. So it’s become a great resource that we always look at and use because we are always adding to it. Highly recommended! (Here’s our review of the Activity Pak.)
I also really like the SQUILT program (here’s a recent review). Like most homeschool moms I tweak it to fit our schedule of one composer every 6 weeks. But I love the quiet-listening and really focusing on that piece of music. It’s also really nice to have all the links and activities in one place (without having to search for them myself!). And, if you’re not sure what composers you should choose, then this program will help – the work is done for you!
Beginning with the Orchestra
If you’d like, you could begin your music study with an overview of the orchestra and instruments. There are many books and resources that would make this an easy way to begin. I like The Story of the Orchestra for the overview and then I just look for different instrumental CDs at the library or online to feature music for the various instruments.
If you’re looking for more great books and resources, I have many more fabulous resources linked in this post – Favorite Resources for Music Appreciation.
Is classical music a part of your homeschool day?