A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers: Review

A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers

Bright Ideas Press sent our family two products ”A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” and ”The Mystery Of History, Volume 2: The Early Church and the Middle Ages” If you’ve read my review of “The Mystery of History” you will already be familiar with some of the components of “Composers”.

A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” is a full year multi-level study of composers for children grades 4-8 (all of our children enjoyed “Composers” and learned from it, although not all of the activities are suitable for younger ages, they can still benefit). Each week you study a different composer, listening to his music and learning about his life. We covered each lesson in 3 days, but continued taking time out of our school day to listen to his music for the remainder of the week.

Each day you will listen to the recommended selections of the composers music. (These are all available on YouTube and URL’s are printed in the book.)

Each lesson includes:

  • A 15 minute reading about the composer, his life and his music.
  • A note taking page that has a lot of specific questions about the reading.
  • Composer information cards – These are similar to MOH’s memory cards, but a little more directed. Each card has space for the composers birth and death, country of birth, compositions, evidence as to whether or not he was a Christian and facts about his life.
  • Timeline work – The timeline is specific for this composer study and includes indications of the style of music the composer wrote and which composers influenced others. This is well done and has helped our children understand the history and development of music through time.
  • Map work
  • A coloring page – Terrific for the children to work on as they listen to the music selections.

What we thought:

“A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” gets two thumbs up. For years I have desired to do some time of music history study, but have not found something that went beyond a couple paragraphs of information about each composer. “A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” is a wonderful, well-rounded composer study that clearly shows the development of musical style, the relationships between composers and the influence of religion on music. It puts all of this into a geographical and historical context with map and timeline work.

Just like with MOH I think that this could be more user friendly in it’s layout. (You have to turn to the back of the book to find the music selections and coloring pages for each composer, as opposed to being able to open the book to Vivaldi and finding everything that you need in one place.) However, in “Composers” this is merely a minor inconvenience. Our children all are enjoying the whole study, listening, coloring, composer cards and timelines. Even little Nicholas (1) and Colby (3) enjoy rocking with mommy during our listening time and even though one of the characteristics of Gregorian chants is that they do not have a distinguishable rhythm it didn’t keep Nick from bobbing his head and snapping his fingers.

We are continuing to use “A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” ($34.95) this school year and hope that the writers will put out another year study because we’d love to continue in our learning. Can I say this anymore clearly? If you are interested in a music or composer study run, fly, hop, jump or just click over and purchase this one!

Bright Ideas Press offers many multi-level homeschooling resources. I also reviewed “Mystery of History Vol 2”.  You may read more of my homeschool reviews on my review page.

Bright Ideas Press sent me a complimentary copy of  ” A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers” in order to write this review.  I was not otherwise compensated and all opinions express are my own.

This post is included in the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

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12 Responses to A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers: Review
  1. Tristan from the Crew
    November 6, 2009 | 8:00 am

    We love this one too! I agree, it is great to have the whole family using it together – I nearly cried when I saw it had coloring pages, that is just what I needed for busy little hands (even if the pages occasionally ended up as paper airplanes after they were colored).


  2. celee
    November 6, 2009 | 9:32 am

    Sounds good, I’ll have to check it out. Thank you for the info! I have a very musical family.


  3. Anita Chamblee
    November 6, 2009 | 10:05 am

    Thanks for this review! I was just looking at this in the Timberdoodle catalog yesterday. My dh and I both have master’s degrees in music and I have, at times, done composer studies mainly using Color the Classic and The Gift of Music. This looks like it would be a great addition to our collection. I can always add more coloring pages from the Color the Classic series. I think I will be ordering this for next semester!


  4. MomStarr
    November 6, 2009 | 5:23 pm

    This sounds like something I have been looking for. When did you incorporate this into your day?


    Raising Olives Reply:

    We stick this in during our Sonlight or group school time. We listen, read and do the comprehension questions together. We listen right after our Bible reading, so the little kids can have a coloring page just like the big ones. Afterward I assign the timeline, map work and composer cards for the children to complete later in the day. (They don’t do all of that on one day, just one of those each day for 3 days.)

    I have a post coming up about our specific Sonlight schedule. (It’s already written, so you probably won’t have to wait months for it.)


  5. Alice
    November 6, 2009 | 6:11 pm

    Kimberly, how young is too young for this study, do you feel? I know you said grades 4-8, but my eldest is about to turn 5 and we are already trying to do some sort of music appreciation type of study during school. He loves listening to music of any sort, and will talk about how it makes him feel and what it makes him think of, and he asks more questions than I know answer to, about the composers. I read what is on the CD cover, but it’s not very much. This sounds like what I’m looking for, but it seems to suggest that he’s way too young for it yet. What would you say, having tried it out? Like Colby and Nicholas, my 3- and 1-year-olds would just enjoy listening whilst playing, or rocking with me, but my 5-year-old is eager for more than just listening, and I’m interested to know more about this product now that I have seen your review! 🙂


    Raising Olives Reply:

    You can certainly use this with a 5 year old, but he won’t get most of what is being taught. He would be able to do the map work and probably the timeline (with help), but he won’t be getting the concepts. The composer cards would be over his head and much of the reading.

    Here’s my thought. Our children 7 and younger are only listening to the music and the reading. However, even Colby (3) recognizes Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Spring. If you purchase this now, I would plan on only doing the reading and listening. That said, if I were you, I don’t think I purchase this if my oldest was 5. I’d let my kids listen to, dance with and enjoy music and then if a few years I would definitely get this study! There really is a lot of meat in this study and while younger children can certainly learn something about the composers and will enjoy the music, it is not focused on them.

    I would suggest you visit Ambleside Online and look at their composer studies. These are free and you could probably get exactly what you want for your 5 year old without overwhelming him with too much.


    Alice Reply:

    Thanks so much for the link and the advice! I will look into the Ambleside Online studies right away! 🙂


  6. Neeley
    November 6, 2009 | 10:20 pm

    Hi Kimberly,

    I am finding your blog to be so enjoyable. One of my faves. I emailed you regarding your bunks last week. I teach in the public school system. We have just piloted a program very similar sounding to yours. Here is the link: http://www.capesymphony.org/cape-symphony-orchestra-musicworks.asp It is so enjoyable to me to know that our students, grade prek-3 are exposed to these composers on a daily basis. The music is superb. I will let you know as the year progresses, what we find. Keep up the great work, Neeley


    Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Neeley, Nice to meet you here on Raising Olives. 🙂 Thanks for the link. I’ll have to check that out.


  7. Amy
    November 11, 2009 | 2:05 pm

    Thanks so much for the Ambleside link! We just started a composer study last month, and I plan on blogging about it soon. Anyway, I thought I had been all over ambleside.com and yet, somehow, I had missed that page. I’m so excited about all of the wonderful links there! Thank you!


  8. […] Composer Study by Bright Ideas Press – little ones (2-6) listen to music […]

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