A middle school music appreciation course by Zeezok Publishing called Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades is the latest review item for our household My oldest son, Michael, is the lucky kid that has been able to try it out over the past few weeks.
We received the over 300 page, full color, softcover consumable student book and the 9 composer biographies as listed at the link above. One was sent to us as a PDF due to some shipping issues (Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Suite), but the rest were sent as the hard copy books.
As my children are getting older, I am realizing that we have not put a large emphasis on the fine arts in our home education curriculum choices. I love the layout of this curriculum, and am thankful we’ve gotten to try it. We have many weeks left of instruction and reading left to work through from this book. The lessons have a Weekly Outline page for each composer, which includes reading assignments, comprehension questions, character qualities, fun facts and information, rich lessons on the culture and times that the composer lived in, and a lot of internet-linked videos, music, and activities.
The same publisher has Music Appreciation Book 1, which was written for grades k-6. This Middle Grades second book was written for 5-8th graders. You could definitely use it with younger or older students, especially if you wanted to incorporate several of your children together at once.
My oldest son and I have truly enjoyed working through this curriculum these last few weeks. The beautiful pictures in the student activity book help give a broader sense of the time period and what life was like back then. The information sprinkled throughout the workbook is great for trivia buffs, too!
The biographies are enjoyable to read, and I love that there are so many included with this package. It definitely breaks up the school day to be able to read this literature rather than working in a textbook every time.
There are also so many activities mentioned and explained, including a journal. No matter how your child learns best, this curriculum will work to their strengths and is easy to adapt to make it easier for them or more rich if you are hoping to go even more in-depth.
While the student activity book does assign written work and assumes that the student will be able to work on the material alone, you could easily adapt it to be done as family read-alouds, oral discussion, and group research and activities. In fact, Zeezok Publishing sells a corresponding lap book and coloring book, which would make this great for younger students, as well as kids that do better with more repetition, recognition, and hands-on work.
We’ve really liked the mix of the text in the Music Appreciation Book to learn from, the written work, the apps, the listening activities, hands-on suggestions, the reading of the biographies, and the comprehension questions. This has helped us to cover everything more thoroughly, but in a non-intimidating way with a comfortable pace.
The composers covered in Music Appreciation Book 2 are Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Edward MacDowell.
I wanted to give you a bit of an idea about what the biographies are like. They are easy reads with some simple, but really interesting, illustrations.
My son has really liked reading these because a chapter doesn’t take long, and it’s written in a way that seems to draw you into the story. You almost forget you’re reading a biography because the characters come to life.
I love that you can work on this at your own pace. I prefer not to rush through elective courses so that my kids can take the time to dig deeper and do a little more informal research, such as listening to extra selections, looking for Youtube videos to look up more information, reading online articles or encyclopedia entries, etc.
We used the curriculum pretty much as written, but I know a lot of Crew members get really creative! To see how they used this resource from Zeezok Publishing, click the banner below: