Review: Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers

coverStudying composers of Western Classical music may sound like a dry dusty old subject, but there's some great history to be found! The history of Europe and the Americas can be partly traced through the music, and I love to study it from this perspective. I admit to being a bit of a nerd in this area, because of what I do in my personal life, and the people over at Bright Ideas Press have a great thing for students from grades 4-8. If you are looking for a composer study from a Christian perspective, you'll want to take a look at the Young Scholar's Guide to Composers and enter the contest to win your own copy here.

Young Scholar's Guide to Composers features 32 weekly lessons, 26 composer bios and profiles 6 musical eras. The questions at the end of each section ensure that students are paying attention during the reading, which is quite short and to the point for each composer or musical era. They cover a wide variety of musical styles from the Gregorian chants of the middle ages to madrigals, waltzes, minuets and symphonies, discussing both the time period in which the composer lived and personal traits that influenced their music.

They cover each composer and time period chronologically, so your kids never have to jump around to try to keep things straight. The timeline and maps help place the composers in their appropriate time and place, helping to connect the people, places and events. The timelines and maps are amazing for the visual aspect of learning, and my boys need to see things before they can have a real grasp on things.

I loved the stories, and the real life incidents relayed in them. Haydn's sense of humor comes through when students read about the Farewell Symphony, and Mozart's genius is apparent through his biography. They bring the composers to life in a way that's very approachable for the age level, and avoid discussing certain composers, like Wagner, who were just not good people. It's one thing to have a difficult personality (like Beethoven), but another entirely to express hatred in the way which Wagner did. Young Scholar's Guide has students build a folder-book holding all the information and timelines instead of notebook pages or lapbooks. I like this idea very much, because when they're done with the year, they'll have one place with every thing they've learned about the composers along the way. It's an terrific way to keep everything organized.

The schedule is easy to keep and doesn't take much to maintain, only three days a week and the lessons shouldn't take more than about 30 minutes unless your own little Haydn decides he or she would like to listen to and re-enact the entire Farewell Symphony. But then I think that would be a worthy diversion, deepening their knowledge of the composer!

For a better idea on the ease of use, here's the suggested lesson schedule:

Day 1 - listening to recommended music, read the lesson and either answer the student review questions or fill in the note-taking pages.

Day 2 - listen to the music again, fill in composer info card, color timeline and match composer to birthplace.

Day 3 - listen again.

As you can see, the schedule is light and not at all overwhelming even for classical music newbies. This is a terrific introduction to and study of classical music and composers from a Christian perspective, and affordable to boot. The digital version is only $24.95 for the single family version, and instantly available.

Bright Ideas Press is giving away TWO copies of the digital edition, so be sure to enter before it ends!

Disclaimer: We received Young Scholar's Guide to Composers at no charge in exchange for our honest opinions, and we were not required to give a positive review. This post contains affiliate links, these cost nothing extra for you, but help us continue to bring excellent content to the homeschool community.

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What do you think?