I love to enhance our regular curriculum with something fun and creative. From art to music, my kids have a natural artistic bent, so I thought the Music Appreciation Book 1: For the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing LLC would be a good fit for us, even though my 8th grade son is a little bit older than the target age.
First, let me say, this set is huge! It is definitely enough for a year’s worth of music instruction, and what an elective course this is! It comes with multiple CDs that feature tons of classical music by famous composers, as well as seven different chapter books that tell the story of those composer’s lives. The included workbook has multiple activities based on the reading and other fun activities that help your child learn about music, and there is even a lapbook component. Artists featured in the set include: Handel, Hayden, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, and Paganini.
The first composer we decided to study was Handel, as we love listening to “The Messiah” at Christmastime. My son and I did this study together, since I enjoy classical music and I wanted to see what it had to offer, but with an older elementary or middle school student, I think it is certainly something you could give them to do on their own, with you just being there to supervise and answer questions as needed.
We found the chapter books to be interesting and well written. The Handel chapter book was a bit longer than the next book we read, so we broke the reading into two or three days. The books include illustrations and we both liked the fact that they told the story of the composers while they were growing up. Hearing about the composers as children helped my son relate to them more, rather than picturing them as old men sitting behind a piano or playing another instrument.
The books direct you to listen to certain short tracks on the accompanying CDs to introduce you to the composer’s music. Sheet music is included in the book, so if your child plays an instrument, they can play along. I appreciated the fact that you got to hear a variety of the artist’s work in this study, rather than the typical music you hear that is so well-known. We found some very lively pieces we enjoyed and it encouraged my son to look up more music by the composers he enjoyed most.
All of the work for the study is included in one large workbook, which to me is much better than having to keep track of multiple smaller books! The studies are basically broken into 4-week time periods, but there is no daily schedule, so you can decide how to set it up. Basically, we read the first two days of the week, then my son completed the the other activities on the last three days of the week. Each week includes comprehension questions related to the reading, then some historical and background information, often tied to the lapbook activity. There are also activities related to music, instruments, history, and more.
I have to say I was very impressed by how in-depth the activities in the workbook went. For an elementary study, it delves into so many areas. Kids learn not only about music, but the historical tie-ins and the biographical information is really, really rich.
I especially liked the activities that asked kids to think about how music made them feel, and tied in sounds and instruments to specific feelings. I LOVE music, of all kinds. I would rather listen to music than watch TV any day of the week, and the reason I am so passionate about music is because I know that at any given time, I can find some sort of music to suit my mood. I want my kids to have that same connection, and I think this study helps them focus on that. At the end of each study there is a quiz that gives kids a chance to show off what they have learned, and an answer key for al questions is included.
We are currently in the midst of our study on Hadyn, and thoroughly enjoying it! I expect we will continue with this study in the fall after our summer break, as I want to make sure we study all of the composers. I would highly recommend this study for anyone who wants their kids to learn more about classical music. To learn more about this product, connect with Zeezok on social media here: