Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Music Appreciation With Zeezok Publishing {A TOS Review}

We had the chance to do another fun review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. This one focused on music, which is a requirement in our state, though not needed every year. We have reviewed different curriculum for music lessons in the past; however, this time we were able to focus on music appreciation with Zeezok Publishing LLC. We had the pleasure of reviewing their Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades

This curriculum includes the following materials.

We received:
  • The Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades Student Book 1
  • A Set of 5 Music Discs
  • CD of the Music Appreciation Lapbook
  • 7 child-friendly biographies of the composers that will be studied in this course. 
The student book divides each composer into 4 week's worth of lessons, which are easily found thanks to the colored tabs on the side of the page.

There is an outline for the lessons showing what needs to be completed each week. However, in the introduction it does state that this program is flexible and things can be rearranged or even skipped. For those who are worried about following national music appreciation standards, the book does note which activities need to be completed to meet the requirements.

While following the lessons, the child(ren) will read or listen to the biography of a composer, enjoy selections of the composers music thanks to the CDs, complete a lapbook and work their way through the workbook. 

The CDs are essential to this curriculum. 

There are five music discs with music from each of the composers. The student book and biography let you know which disc and track(s) needs to be listened to during the lesson. Additionally, you will find the music in the biography so you can follow along, or if so inclined, try to play it. 

The Lapbook CD can be opened on the computer so the lapbook pages can be printed out. Assembly instructions are included, along with pictures of finished lapbooks to help ensure proper placement of all the minibooks.

Here is a closer look at the composer biographies that are included in this curriculum.

Throughout this course you and your child(ren) will learn about:
  • Sebastian Bach
  • Handel
  • Joseph Haydn
  • Mozart
  • Ludwig Beethoven
  • Paganini
  • Franz Schubert
We chose to focus on Mozart for our first composer, learning about his life as a young boy and following as he grew into a man.

As I mentioned, this curriculum is designed to take 4 weeks to complete one composer. We didn't quite follow the schedule and have just finished the one composer now, after a little over a month and a half. Here is how we used the curriculum.

We spent time reading the biography, Mozart: The Wonder Boy during our daily story time. Due to the ages of the children (especially the younger 2), we took more than one sitting to read a chapter. In fact, it usually took around three days to complete one chapter.  As we read through the book, we would come to a page where we were instructed to listen to the track on the CD to hear the music that was mentioned in the chapter.  We would listen to the selection before heading out to the dining room for our gathering time. We also listened to the CD in the van. I would just play all of the Mozart selections while we drove to appointments or homeschool co-op. 

I then needed to spend time with just the older girls so we could complete the workbook. I did only have the one workbook, so Amelia would follow along sometimes, but the workbook was Tabitha's to fill out. If Amelia had been older, I would have purchased an additional workbook. There are comprehension questions for each chapter, plus other hands-on activities.

There were times Tabitha completed the questions independently, other times we read through them together with Amelia listening in, and I would fill out the workbook.

Here was a fun little geography activity. Tabitha learned the names of 6 different instruments and located where in the world they would be found.

There were activities that made the child think about how music impacted their world.

There were Character Qualities and Tidbits of Interest to read; however, the children weren't very interested in listening to this information. I quite enjoyed the Tidbits of Interest though; you know, little bits of trivia about Mozart and his family.  It was fun to learn that he "once broke off a concert to chase after a cat that had wandered into the hall" for example.

Each week there are elements of the lapbook to complete. These are noted in the workbook lesson outline with the letters (LB). We started out with Hannah and Harold joining in with our lapbook time.

There were a wide variety of mini books to complete for the lapbook. We had an activity that focused on geography: Window to the World Tour (which is a little map which the children use to show where Mozart went during his touring). We expanded our vocabulary by learning musical terms and opera terms. We learned some facts about music of the classical period.  We also learned about Mozart and Money. The children made their own poster to announce a concert by the Wunderkinder. (Wonder Children). This was the one page that was in the student workbook but not in the lapbook, so Amelia had to use a blank piece of paper to make hers. We will be slowly filling out the Music of Mozart Cards, as we are to fill one out for each of the pieces of music that is included in the lessons. We learned about different types of operas. Finally, we completed the lapbook by assembling the Timeline of Mozart's life. 

As I mentioned, I originally planned on having all the children complete a lapbook, in fact I printed out 4 of every page. Harold and Hannah did complete the first two mini books, but there was just too much cutting for them, and they can't read the information anyway, so I stopped working on it with them. I will store the pages for when they are older. Tabitha and Amelia did complete the lapbooks.

Here is Amelia's completed lapbook:

As we read through the biography, I realized I knew next to nothing about Wolfgang Mozart. I never knew that Mozart's full name was Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. I didn't even know he had an older sister affectionately named Nannerl, who was also a talented musician. We learned so much about Wolfgang Mozart through this short biography which was told in a lovely storytelling way.  We learned about his love for his father and his amazing musical talent that began at a young age. He astounded his family by writing music such as minuets and concertos when he was just 5 and 6 years old, and joining in with his violin while his father and his friends were playing new trios written by Herr Wentzel.  We join them on their concert tours and are excited as they discover they are going to play for princes and kings and queens along with other nobility.

While we enjoyed learning about Mozart, I do feel the pace needed to be slowed down a bit for us, as mentioned above. I think part of the problem was trying to fit a book with 5 chapters into 4 weeks. This made it feel "cramped." I am glad we could be flexible and go at our own pace, especially because we don't do music every day of the week. 

There was one part of the lapbook that I admit frustrated me. They were supposed to cut out musical notes which had vocabulary words printed on them. Then we were to put the definition of the word on the correct note. The problem was, I couldn't find anything in the workbook or lapbook CD that gave the definitions. When I looked up the words online, I couldn't find exact matches for quite a few of the words, so this unmusical mommy, was at a loss for parts of this lesson. I later realized some of the words were defined in the next week's lesson, but not all of them were.

All in all we enjoyed this study of Wolfgang Mozart. It was definitely better suited for the two older girls who are 7 1/2 and 9 years old. We enjoyed the hands-on aspects and the stories, along with being able to listen to Mozart's music. I planned on waiting until next school year to do another composer, the plan being to do 2 or 3 a year. However, Tabitha has expressed an interest in studying Beethoven during the summer, so I will happily oblige.

You can find Zeezok Publishing on Facebook and Pinterest.

Don't forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew Mates. We each chose one of the seven composers to focus on. Just click on the banner below.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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