Meet the Great Composers

There are people who are musically inclined, have time to spend in music studies, and really enjoy classical music - then there's me. I guess I wasn't born an auditory person and I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I played the piano when I was young and really enjoyed it, but didn't have a "gift" for it. My very young children begged me to stop when I sang to them...and I mean simple songs like "Itsy, Bitsy, Spider". I don't know a whole note from a quarter note, and don't know a sonata from a fugue. Also, after teaching three levels (thank goodness two of my five school-age children are twins!) the "basics", there's little time left for the arts. But, all this said, I appreciate classical music, think it's important to have more than a name-recognition acquaintance with the great composers, and encourage my children to sing, play instruments and enjoy music. This course seems designed for people like me, who want to expose their children to the composers and their music, but don't have all day to do it. Each book has 17 units which cover composers from the Baroque to Contemporary period in chronological order. Lessons include a picture and short fact sheet about the composer, a suggested listening, a story of the composer's life, a study of his music or something about the time in which he lived and a review in the form of a puzzle or game. All this takes only 20-30 minutes. Listening selections are ample for appreciating the composer's style and genius, but not overly lengthy. They are high-quality piano recordings. Listening to them, it strikes me that it would be a nice exercise to have children listen through the selection once, then "compose" a drawing along with listening a second time. Book 1 covers Bach, Scarlatti, Handel, Haydn, Clementi, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Joplin, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Bartók and Kabalevsky. Book 2 includes Couperin, Kuhlau, Schubert, Hensel, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Foster, Tchaikovsky, Dvo?ák, Grieg, MacDowell, Beach, Granados, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Gershwin and Barber.

The activity sheets from the book are now available for separate purchase. One side of each reproducible page includes important facts about the composer with a picture and a reference to a track on the CD found in the actual book. The other side has a puzzle or questions to answer using these facts. Classroom kits include Book 1 or 2 with CD and the corresponding set of 17 reproducible activity sheets.

This survey course will give your children a decent overview of the great composers, the time period in which they played, and an idea of what their music was like. And, if they really enjoy particular selections, you'll know which classical music to invest more time and money in. After listening to the CD through I've gotta say it's growing on me (especially Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag")...this could be the beginning of a brand new interest...




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