There are some companies that I really love! Memoria Press is one of those! Their philosophy is one that is just so very near and dear to my heart. I love how they aspire to the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. While these are simple materials. they are of such amazing quality! And because one of the things that we all enjoy together is music, we were super excited to have the chance to review Music Appreciation I. What a great way to encourage my young musicians to not just create their own music but also explore the various styles of music.
The Music Appreciation I set comes with the Book One and the Audio Companion CD’s. There is also a link to YouTube and Spotify, so you can access the playlists this way. We love using Spotify so we listened a lot that way! While this is recommended for grades 3-5, my oldest son (grade 6) was also a part of this one since he is very musically inclined and we are always eager to encourage him in this area. This course includes not just an introduction to Western classical music but also terms like pitch, rhythm, melody and form. There are 26 lessons, in chronological order, starting with Handel through Mozart, Strauss, Wagner and so many more! Having been involved in music and performance myself for many years, there were many that were quite familiar to me. Old friends you could say. And there were also many things that I was amazed to learn as I completed this along side my boys. I have always loved classical music myself; listening as we journeyed through this course reminded me of all the benefits that come with listening too!
Because one of my desires is to truly help my children (and my home) to be a Philippians 4:8 one, materials like this are truly blessings to us all. They cause us to think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things that are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. I have always believed music is one of the best ways to do this. And being a strong advocate of Charlotte Mason, I like to think that as we listen to these great composers and learn to really hear the pieces they wrote, we can also learn so much about. About their life, their experiences and challenges. We can be inspired and encouraged to do great things just as these simple artists once did.
There are a number of sections within every chapter. While we tend to be a very musical family, this was definitely something that we had to slowly ease into, so having a couple different sections in each chapter was very helpful. For each lesson, we began by listening to a specific piece of music (sometimes we would listen a couple times); from Bolero to Flight of the Bumblebee, to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. From there read a bit of history as we get to know the composer, learn a variety of concepts related to music and explore the piece just a bit further. There are also some great facts to remember before we listen once again. We are encouraged as we listen, to try to follow the form, hear the questions and answers within the music and recognize the different instruments within the piece.
Both of my boys are rather musically inclined. My oldest son has been learning drums and piano for about a year (off and on; somewhat self taught) and my younger son has been studying guitar and learning a bit of drums as he is able along with his brother. My oldest daughter loves playing around on her little guitar. I studied music for so many years (mostly on woodwind from flute to bassoon, oboe and piccolo) but I have to admit I was pretty rusty when it came to theory so I really appreciated how simply everything was broken down. I always love when I learn a thing or two alongside my kids!
I admit we did struggle a bit in the beginning with how to really use this; there isn’t really clear instruction provided as to how to use the materials or how much to use in a day or a week. So initially we took a week or two to complete a lesson. But as we gained momentum and as I noticed my boys becoming more interested in the “Beet guy” or that “Water Music” I was encouraged to dig in a bit deeper and so some days we would finish an entire lesson. In some cases we would end up following those rabbit trails as we explored what that village must have looked like where Vivaldi walked. We explored and discussed the “good salary” that Beethoven was given in Vienna. And sometimes we would watch videos about the time period or the area that was being talked about. There were some days that one portion of a lesson even, became a real experience all in itself.
I should mention there are also quizzes to be completed however I admit while I meant to use these we ended up doing more narration I guess you could say. I will definitely be using these more thoroughly in the future (because this is one of those materials that I know we will go through again and again, for fun! My boys have never been much for testing and my oldest especially is much more of a speaker so it can be fun to see what he recalls and how interprets certain lessons. Or even a piece of music we are listening to. He is quite creative and if anyone can hear messages within the music, it would be him. I have to say one of the things I liked most about this was that it got my oldest son sitting and talking with me; sharing thoughts and ideas (and he has been rather sulky and quiet for awhile now, which worried me). Its been fun to listen to the pieces, try to play some of the music based on what is given and just explore together.
While we are nowhere near done with the lessons in this book, we are eager to see book two released. I love that I don’t feel pressure or guilt about moving slowly (or quickly) through any portion of this course. I truly love being able to help my children learn and explore these sorts of things in such a relaxed and inviting way. With or without any musical background this is a wonderful way to share I love of music with your children.
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