You have probably heard of Bright Ideas Press, and you may be familiar with their "The Mystery of History" series. Did you know, though, that among the other resources they offer is a book called A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers? I received a copy of the book to use with my children and review for the TOS Homeschool Crew, and we love it!
The book is meant for use with students from about 3rd grade to about 8th grade. Like many homeschool resources, however, it could be adapted for use with just about any age or grade level. I don't think I would probably try to use it with children who are younger than 3rd grade simply because the material might be a little difficult for younger children to understand; I do think it would be suitable for most older students, though.
The book includes 32 weekly lessons, 26 biographies of famous composers, a comparative timeline, maps, composer information cards and game directions, coloring pages, resource suggestions, and more! There is no music included with the book, but there is information included to help you find the music to go along with the lessons. In fact, we found that we could find many of the suggested pieces of music on the internet. While we couldn't always find the entire piece, we were often able to find at least a short section of it--enough that we could get an idea of what the entire piece sounds like.
I really like that a suggested schedule is included at the beginning of the book. While I don't always choose to use schedules that are included with materials I use for homeschooling, I still like it when they are included. It is very helpful to have an idea of ways to use the materials and the approximate amount of time I should be devoting to each lesson or activity. Then I can tweak that information to make it work for my family.
Of course a book like this one can't contain information about every single composer who lived. The authors tried to include those composers who had a great impact on the world of music. They also, of course, had to limit their list to the number of composers that can be studied within a typical school year. I really appreciate the fact that they chose to leave out certain composers whose lives were immoral because they could not include information about the lives of those composers since it wouldn't be appropriate for students to read!
My children and I haven't had time to finish using this book since it will take about a school year to complete, but we have absolutely enjoyed what we've done so far! I have been very pleased with it myself, and I've been just as pleased with my children's reactions to it too. I wasn't sure how much they would like this study since so many young people are not "into" classical music. I think that learning about the lives of each composer has helped my children to be more interested in each composer's music. I know it works that way for me!
Included in the book are directions for various activities to do as part of this study. There are note-taking pages, review questions, directions for playing games with the composer information cards, directions for making a "folderbook" (sort of like a lapbook), information about using the maps, and timeline directions too. With my children, I tried to spread out the different activities over the week in order to keep their interest by giving them something active to do nearly every day. Not only did that help build interest, I think it also helped them to retain more of what they learned.
The cost of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers is $29.95 for the CD-Rom book or $34.95 for the paperback book (298 pages). I received the paperback book for review. I really enjoy having an actual book to use whenever possible. I like that the kids and I can take it with us if we have appointments or if we choose to do our work outside when the weather is nice. I don't always want to be tied down to my computer and/or to have to print out lots of pages each day or week. I honestly think this book is worth the price!
If you want to read more reviews of this resource or reviews of some of the other resources that other Crew members received, just click this link. I think you will enjoy reading some of the other reviews as well as finding out about some other great resources!
NOTE: I received this resource for the purpose of using it and writing this review. I did not receive any other compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.