Saturday, September 12, 2015

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation {A Review}

I had the wonderful opportunity to review a new music appreciation course from Gena Mayo of I Choose Joy. She is a fellow blogger and homeschooling mom of eight children. When I asked about doing a review of her music curriculum, I didn't realize what an impressive background Gena has in music. Not only has she taught her own children, but she has both a Bachelors degree in Music Education and a Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy. Additionally, she has a lot of experience teaching music to children. This curriculum was originally created for a homeschool co-op and was used with children in from grades K-12. 

Up to this point in our homeschool journey, our musical learning has been quite informal and not very focused. When the children were younger we played a lot of music. We danced around to kids songs. We listened to classical music, focusing on a composer whose name started with our letter of the week. We sing tons of children's songs, most of which I learned while working at the Montessori. Homemade musical "instruments" have been enjoyed through the years. We've even spent some time learning to play the piano. However, this year I decided we needed to be more focused about our musical learning. It might have something to do with having to be "official" with the school district this year, I'm not sure. 

We had already planned on learning a new instrument, the recorder. However, when the opportunity arose to check out Gena's music appreciation curriculum, I thought it would be a great addition to our musical learning. 

This curriculum is a downloadable PDF file that contains 21 lessons, each of which include information about the composer or style being studied, links to YouTube videos, and notebooking pages for older students. 

You will get a picture of how music has evolved through the 20th century. The lessons begin with the marches of John Phillip Sousa and make their way through blues, jazz, folk opera, big band music, musical theater (both before and after 1965), rock and roll beginnings, and folk music. Sometimes the lesson will focus on a specific composer, other times you will be learning about a style where the music of different composers is shared. 

It is recommended that you focus on a lesson per week. After reading the information, you would watch the linked videos throughout the week. Younger children can just listen to the music, or perhaps color a picture related to the musical style while they listen. However, you would have to search for coloring sheets on your own, as those haven't been provided. Older children can fill out the notebooking sheets. There are two different sheets provided. The first one focuses on the composer, and the child would fill in the name, country, and dates of birth and death. Several lines are then provided for the child to list Famous Pieces, and Interesting Facts. You would use the information shared in the lesson. The second sheet is titled, "What do you hear in this music?" While listening to a specific piece of music the child would fill in such things as: tempo, mood, rhythm, style, and whether or not it reflected the time period it was written in. 

As my children are on the young side, we have not used any of the notebooking sheets yet. I have kept it very simple. I read some of the information about the composer to the children and we watch the videos. Sometimes they hang around for the entire video, other times they play quietly next to me here in the living room while the music plays. I have not given them any coloring sheets as of yet. Part of that is because I wasn't quite sure what kind of picture to print out. I would have loved some suggestions for what would go well with each composer/style. Music is not my strong point and I guess I need a bit more hand-holding than others would. 

The children and I have enjoyed watching/listening to the videos that Gena has linked to in the curriculum. Even I am learning things about the music of the 20th century that I had never known before. I have to admit, there was some musical information that was a bit over my head, though my husband may have a better understanding. For example, in the lesson on Blues, Gena discusses chord progression and the blues scale, and I admit, I was sort of scratching my head, because I really don't understand what that mean. Fro now I have decided to share the basic information with the children and enjoy listening to the music. As they get older, we can revisit the curriculum and the children will be able to fill out the notebooking sheets. 

This is a simple to use music appreciation curriculum that will introduce your children to the music of the 20th century. I think it would be a wonderful tie-in for those who are studying this period of history, to see what was going on in the country when these musical works were created. For us, it is just a fun exploration of music, but for older students it can be so much more. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this curriculum in exchange for my honest review. No further compensation was given. This did not in any way influence my review. I only recommend products I use personally and feel will be a good products for my readers. 

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