Composer Study - Ideas for CtG

Including using "English From The Roots Up," "God & the History of Art," & Composer Studies
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Heather (WI)
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Composer Study - Ideas for CtG

Unread post by Heather (WI) » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:53 am

We are on the 3rd (final) composer (Handel) in CtG. I don't think we are remembering or retaining enough of what we have heard on the CDs about their lives, etc.

I was wanting to somehow "tie up" all three composers into one big poster (or something similar), where we kind of summarize a little about each man and their music. I am hoping this would "cement" what we've learned about them, and be something we could refer back to in the future.

I printed a few pages from online and from books I have, but this doesn't seem very exciting. Does anyone have any ideas how I could summarize the 3 composers studied this year in a more meanigful and memorable way, so that what we have learned means something and actually "sticks"??

(We have a 9 1/2yodd, 4th grade.)

Thanks in advance!!
Love in Christ,
Heather (WI)
MFW user since 2004:
and starting Ex-1850 in Aug. 2008!!


Unread post by cbollin » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:11 am

Just to let you know that in EX1850 you will come "bach" and review each composer from CTG and RTR. Each of them will again get a little musical note on the timeline, and each will be tied in to a bit more of the bigger picture of music study.


Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:23 am

I have not done this, but could you just put up some sort of visual picture for each one (the composer? the instrument?) and then surround it with a few key memorable facts? I'm thinking things like "dad forbid him to play music" vs. "family was musicians," or "Germany." Then perhaps a major instrument used such as "organ" or "harpsichord." And finally a major piece such as "4 Seasons" or "Messiah."

For us, the notebook pages we made in CTG basically served this purpose, as well as the timeline pieces, and then of course the Vivaldi artwork. We still use these things for review.

But all in all, I think my main goals at this age have to do with listening more closely to the music & understanding some basics like the general time period & the complexity of the instrumentation. *I* cannot keep all the composers straight, so I don't expect my kids to. However, the notes in the CTG guide are great for helping us to listen to the pieces more carefully & to hear their unique sounds. Perhaps by high school, an actual familiarity with each composer will emerge.

Small story: Recently my husband was in the hospital & we were playing some Vivaldi as a calming background music. One nurse came in, listened a moment, & said, "Oh, a Vivaldi fan?" However, it was clear that the nurse knew he was unusual & that no one else probably would be able to recognize a composer on the spot.
Last edited by Julie in MN on Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by kellybell » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:24 pm

I love Julie's idea of putting facts near a composer for something visual.

One thing that help my children remember certain composers and their more popular pieces is the Beethoven Wig CDs (check your library). I have two volumes and I just checked the library and there is a third volume. I just reserved it. I can't wait...

Each CD has about a dozen or so classical pieces and they have added corny words (with even cornier voices) singing them. Thankfully and redeemingly, after these dozen or so tracks of vocals, there are the same pieces, well-done, with no vocals.

The title of this series comes from the vocals of Beethoven's Fifth (you know the one that goes da-da-da-dummmm, da-da-da-dummm) which starts with "Beethoven's Wig... Is very big..."

Today, the kids started singing one of the Beethoven Wig CD songs (I think it's on the second CD) that lists the kings and queens of England. It starts with "First came William, then the second William, Henry ..." We just read about the Battle of Hastings today (which has that first William) so that was a timely piece of music.

Also the Classical Kids CDs (or casettes) -- again, check the library -- have great stories that my kids remember.

Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

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Unread post by mamaofredheads » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:54 am

We have had the Story of...CDs that are used in CTG & RTR for many years as we used them with our older DS, so the boys have listened to them many times. If you play those when you're driving, during lunch, etc. they pick up on the story & the music. We also purchased books from Zeezok Publishing about each composer. These are fairly new, which is probably why they aren't on Marie's recommended reading list. We love these books. They are reprints originally written in the early 1900s. They author is Opal Wheeler.


Heather (WI)
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Unread post by Heather (WI) » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:49 am

Thanks for all the great ideas!!

Julie, I was kind of thinking like you--with a few facts about each near their pictures or something like that.

Keep any more ideas coming!!!
Love in Christ,
Heather (WI)
MFW user since 2004:
and starting Ex-1850 in Aug. 2008!!

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Another idea

Unread post by RachelT » Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:33 pm

Hello! I am in the middle of MFWK. However, I am a former elementary music teacher turned homeschooler.

Several years ago I found some neat videos and books about composers. I just did a search on them, they are by Susan Hammond and the series is called "Classical Kids". You can find more information on the internet. I remember watching "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" and reading "Mr. Bach Comes to Call" with my students. It looks like there are several others in this series that I have not seen, but would probably also be good resources, including: "Hallelujah Handel", "Mozart's Magic Fantasy", "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery", and "Tchaikovsky Discovers America". What I liked about using these in my music classes was that they brought a composer and that period of history to life along with the music of that composer through a story, like a "living book". You could look at your library or on the internet to find these in various formats.

I also have another fun book about composers called "Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And what the neighbors thought)," by Kathleen Krull. This book has cute caricature type illustrations of each composer and information about their life, but some of it is about funny facts and things that not every encyclopedia would tell you. It's good for kids, too.

I hope these help you in learning about composers of the past and their wonderful music!! Good luck!

Heather (WI)
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Neat idea for Composer and Music Study

Unread post by Heather (WI) » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:22 pm

Thanks for the reminder, Rachel. I actually HAVE some of those Classical Kids CDs (but forget to use them--blush). BUT, I didn't realize they were on videos and in books, too. Thanks for letting us know. :o)

I found this lapbook kit for Composer and Classical Music study that looks really neat. We may just order this. ... cts_id=917

Hope it helps someone!!
Love in Christ,
Heather (WI)
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and starting Ex-1850 in Aug. 2008!!

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My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by NJCheryl » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:25 am

mothergooseofthree wrote:My kids groan when I play the composer cds! I don't think I am going to fight the battle either. It has never hurt me that I don't know most of that stuff. Am I the only one?
My kids don't like them either. The biography ones especially. They have a hard time retaining the information given.

I have still been doing it, but when the music is on I let them do a puzzle, artwork, or build with legos. That seems to help.


Julie in MN
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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:55 am

Everything on the Deluxe part of the grid is extra, I think. It's there for those of us who are delighted to have music in our day and a little guidance along the way. I'm not sure whether my son always liked the bios, but those were only listened to over only 2 days I think. Our favorite treasure was when Marie pointed out little tidbits to listen to on the music CDs. We like music at our house, of all kinds, and ds even enjoyed the Young People's Concerts at the Minnesota Orchestra when we could attend. So just figure Marie wrote those parts in for us, and not for you, if you like :) And know that there were things *we* skipped in other areas, that you probably love.

If you *do* want to get in a composer bio, my library had an audio of one of the book basket books - Lives of the Musicians. Those bios were shorter and I think maybe more humorous? But if you don't want to do any classical music at all, that's a perfectly respectable option, too ;)

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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by mothergooseofthree » Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:53 pm

We don't do all of the Deluxe Package. I have been hsing (started with my step-dd years ago) for 11 years now! Ouch! That hurts! Anyway, I am perfectly comfortable treating the grid as a menu since I know what works for us and what doesn't .

As for the composers, I wanted them to enjoy the music at least and if they grew to know which piece went with which composer that would just be icing on the cake. Last year I tried to listen to these at lunch and the first time they joked around and it was fun. The second time they groaned and asked me to read instead. Now I have tried putting them in the car and just listening when we are on the road, which isn't very often since we live in a small town and trips are usually 2-5 minutes. But, I have tried a couple of times when we headed out of town and again they groaned and asked if we could just listen to Christian rock, contemporary, etc.

I will admit, this isn't really that important to me. My kids like music and would probably enjoy a live orchestra, but as for classical just for everyday....well, we just aren't feeling it. But, I would of course enjoy some new ideas. I don't plan to die on this hill, but I will try to interject a little culture here and there!

Cyndi (AZ)
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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:25 pm

We love and listen to classical music around here, and my dd has been exposed to it since before she was born, but I agree on the composer story cd's. I'll turn it on and let dd color while listening to it . :~

I've always been one for making music fun, though. Baby Einstein, Kindermusik, The Little Einsteins . . . it's all about being able to move and feel and enjoy the sound.

Can you have your boys act out a Medievel Jousting Battle to Beethoven's Fifth and call it good?

Or for Haydn's Surprise Symphony, they can crawl along like army dudes then jump up and die at the loud note?

There's a Dog Singing Mozart video on you tube that's pretty funny.

I would just do crazy stuff like that, especially with boys.

And, yes, I did eat too much chocolate about 30 minutes ago and it shows.

8[] ignore me. I'm nuts. But, hey, my dd has been cranking Christmas music and doing "ballet hip hop" in the family room all afternoon. I deserved that chocolate.
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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by Ruby » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:41 pm

mothergooseofthree wrote:I don't plan to die on this hill,
LOL..i use this phrase with my husband..usually during my rants or when we are debating something. how refreshing to hear someone else using it!
Cyndi (AZ) wrote:Or for Haydn's Surprise Symphony, they can crawl along like army dudes then jump up and die at the loud note?
and regarding the above post- my son would have a new appreciation for classical music if i told him your army guy idea-he'd love that!


Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by cbollin » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:34 pm

clearly.. we like a lot of various genres around here, and well... toss in a little bit of classical composers once in a while. That way we understand the disney classic "Little Einsteins".

anyway..I'll be the first to admit that I struggle as an adult listening to the voice on the Story of Composer CD's It's that' NPR meets Classical Music DJ announcer voice. very difficult for me to process. I feel dumb that my brain is slow.
so, I figure if I struggle with understanding and following that voice style, then it's ok if my kids struggle too.

we need a visual -- I start with picture or short bio from
read it...
I will play the CD at kitchen table. stopping after 1 to 3 tracks. We summarize and act it out... now, nothing as fun as army guys, but I like that idea.
some of the stories on there are funny if we listen. Play a few more tracks - I make some comment about how the parents of these composers were ashamed of it all.... eh?
we listen a bit. try to remember one thing -- write down one thing on the bio sheet from classicsforkids. then continue on until about half way through the tracks. continue next week.

there was a stretch of times where we'd listen to one track while in the van on the way to dance class or some other homeschooling thingy. But oh.... I'd groan on road trip.

and the other way I found that my daughters wanted to hear a little bit more? I introduced them to a former local famous person, Joshua Bell. Well, I mean introduced it via youtube, and also via the story where he played the subway and was ignored by most people. Josh Bell -- you know... the violinist whose tickets go for $$$$$$$, playing in the subway in his regular clothes...
you can google for Joshua Bell subway
and read the washington post article with video

(I used to live in the city where Josh grew up... he's just as famous as the other local rocker.... John Mellancamp) sure sure..... I move from there, to memphis..... can y'all believe I didn't go to Graceland last week during homeschool cheap day?

I don't know... but I found it helped us if we connected it to something modern like that. and to have a visual to look at and do it in very small segments at home.

one of my friends made his son listen for 10 hours on a road trip -- in order to finish out the son's high school fine arts credit. maybe, you can just set all of this aside until high school fine arts credit and do something else instead LOL

so, yeah... it's all good. But maybe for now, just find the Joshua Bell subway article and video and if your sons laugh, they laugh. It's ok. but try the army guys or something to narrate the stories.

Last edited by cbollin on Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by MelissaM » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:40 am

I put some classical music on the car radio recently and my big kids groaned. We actually like classical music here - well, not the 6yo so much, but the rest of us - but I guess they weren't really in the mood that day. But I told them they had to listen for a few minutes to balance out all the tv watching they've been doing. I told them that listening to classical music creates new paths in the brain and can help with math - 9yo dd thought that was pretty cool. 6yo just wanted some rock. But I made them suffer because I was in the mood for some classical. I told them it was especially good for little 2yo's brain so they should listen without complaining as a gift to the baby. They rolled their eyes but we all got through it for 10 minutes. :-)

I like Cyndi's ideas! Fun.

Anyway - I have no advice - if it's not that important, then I wouldn't torture anyone with it. We've gotten the "Beethoven's Wig" cd's from the library before, which set funny lyrics to classical music, your boys might like those?

Take care,

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Re: My kids groan when I play the composer cds!

Unread post by RB » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:21 am

What about the "Classical Kids" CD series? Our library has those, and my kids like them better. We do try to listen to the ones schedules in the lesson plans, too, but we all really like classical music...well, except my son who really only likes action movie soundtracks.
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