Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

For the past month, my children have been learning all about composers with A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers, co-written by the amazing Maggie Hogan from Bright Ideas Press.  Although this is definitely a curriculum I would pay for, I received my copy free in exchange for my review, thanks to my participation in Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team.

Like many homeschool moms, I feel strongly that composer study should be part of our curriculum.  Sadly, also like many homeschool moms, I have been stymied as to how best to implement it.  I need a structured curriculum (otherwise I'll be spending a semester on each composer...must. learn. everything!), but I don't want to have to pay for resources I don't need or won't use.  In one of those "God-things", I had just found this exact curriculum when I got the opportunity to review it! Thankfully, it is everything I had hoped it would be.

While Timberdoodle has many wonderful resources for homeschooling music, this program has to be its finest offering.  Not only is the program divided into 32 weeks for easy scheduling, each lesson is also planned and scheduled for three days.  You have no planning or scheduling work to do with this curriculum! Broken into six musical periods (Ancient to Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary), students study composers representative of each period.  The authors of this program explain their criteria for the inclusion and exclusion of various composers, but the way the curriculum is structured, your family can study any composer you wish.  The written lesson (directed toward the student) is about 1,200 words long and is completed on the first day of the week.  Student notebooking pages are included in your purchase, as are a timeline and components needed to make a folderbook (which, as with everything in this program, is not required to derive the full benefit; it is a nice option, though!), along with selection suggestions for relevant music.  In fact, while there are no actual musical selections provided with the program, there are plenty of suggestions to make sure that your student will learn all about the composers studied.

In sum, when you purchase this curriculum for $31.50 at Timberdoodle, you receive a 298 page download which contains lesson plans for a full year's worth of composer study.  Each composer is placed in his own time and musical era, as well as shown in relation to other composers and musical eras.  The lesson is written directly to your student, and tons of extras are included: timeline information, maps, games, coloring pages, and composer cards.  While the age recommendation is 9-13, all homeschooling moms know that programs can be "tweaked" for older or younger kids.  If your child is older, this program is probably more of an outline than a complete curriculum.  For younger children, much of the writing elements could be eliminated.  There are great musical selections by time period, meaning you can simply supplement your history studies with relevant music.

I no longer have to look for a great composer study program.  While there are some products that I only use during the review period, this one is definitely not one of them.  I can't wait to keep using this with my kids all year!

This is not Timberdoodle's only awesome curriculum, as most homeschooling moms already know.  To keep up with all of Timberdoodle's products, join them on Facebook!

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