Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Zeezok Publishing LLC Music Appreciation: Book 1 for theElementaryGrades (review)

Music is one of my favorite subjects, and I really love it when there are products that encourage music appreciation for those happy learners of elementary school age, to head them in the right direction! :) Enter Zeezok Publishing LLC and their Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades, which Youngest and I have been enjoying for a number of weeks, as he learned about the composer Joseph Haydn.

I have been a fan of Zeezok's Musician Biographies for a long while, and have managed to pick up a couple of them over the years, but this Music Appreciation Activity Book/Lapbook/Music Discs/Biography SET really steps it up a notch.
 Book 1 includes studies that coordinate with the biographies of:
  • Bach
  • Handel
  • Haydn 
  • Mozart
  • Beethoven
  • Paganini
  • and Schubert

As I mentioned above, for the purposes of this review, we chose to learn about Hadyn, the Merry Little Peasant.

I mentioned to my Youngest that one of the very first tunes I learned to play on the piano when I was young was by "Papa Haydn." Of course, he had to wait to the very end of the book to hear it on the accompanying music disc (because I didn't recall the name of the actual tune...). How apropos that it was from The Surprise Symphony ~ what a surprise!

Composer Biography
Youngest is a huge fan of history/historical fiction, and has been very enthusiastic about doing this study, as he gets to read about the history of the composer. This has been a nice addition to some of the other historical biographies that he devours on a regular basis, and has had the added value of sparking an interest in listening to more Classical Music than he otherwise would.

Music Discs
The music discs coordinate with the text of the biography, and include the most recognizable snippets from various works of the composer. I will note that my ancient MacBook Pro had some issues with reading the discs, but when I had access to my husband's newer laptop, the discs played just fine. I am normally a "physical product" person, not a "cloud" person, but in this instance, I would have appreciated the ability to listen to these snippets online. Perhaps someday Zeezok will include a password protected area on their website with links to each piece, which would allow us to take our study on the go, and listen from any device. ;)

Student Activity Book
This book is a wonderful resource to use alongside of the biographies. It is broken down into Units by composer, and sectioned further into 4 weekly lessons per composer.

As you can see, the edges of the pages are nicely color-coded so that you can easily find where you are each week. Major blocks of color for each composer. The coding at the top has a long line at the beginning of each unit, and the smaller lines are the beginning of each weekly study. Nice detail!

Each Unit includes a weekly lesson plan, with a variety of activities.
  • Composer Biography~ The week begins by assigning the reading one or two chapters from the biography. This was my Youngest's favorite and least favorite part... simply because he LOVES the reading/history, but he HATES to stop! ;) 
  • Comprehension Questions~ followed by worksheet-like pages
Character Qualities
  • Character Qualities discussion~ each chapter pulls out various character qualities that could be seen in the composer's life. Love this! 
  • Tidbits of Interest ~ These are *quite* interesting! I am very impressed with these Tidbits, as they give insight into the time period in which the composer lived... very much a Social Studies reading, with some great, full color illustrations.
    Tidbits of Interest pages
  • From here the activities begin to vary widely, and might include:
  • Composer Lapbook  piece assembly ~ there are pieces to cut out from the student book as well as pieces to print from a pdf file included in on the lapbook CD found bundled with the Music CDs. Some of the pieces are not put together with the larger handwriting of the early elementary student in mind, so I would recommend that they dictate their answers on some of them. ;) 
    Assembled Lapbook
  • Geography/Map work ~ The Haydn unit had mapwork that showed the various cities where Haydn lived, and also where he traveled (these are found in the activity book, and are not part of the lapbook, just in case you were looking. ;) )
  • Science Experiments ~ The Haydn unit did not include a science experiment, but as an example, the first unit in the book on Bach had an oxidation experiment as they talked about the copper patina at the top of St. Michael's church
  • Recipes and/or food suggestions ~ Foods and recipes from the Composer's time period and country. Youngest was amazed to learn that Mac & Cheese became popular during Haydn's lifetime. How fun! 
  • Music Activities ~ These could include listening to tracks from the CD's, learning about instruments (classical/world/band), the makeup of an orchestra, as well as other musical groups.
  • Timeline Activities ~ These are fairly simple, and include information about major world events during the composer's lifetime. 
  • Copywork ~ Again, not something that shows up in the Haydn unit, but is included in other Composer units. 
I am VERY pleased with this entire set, and think it is well worth checking out. Music and Music Appreciation are so undervalued in our world today, but are such a rich component to add to our children's studies. I am delighted that Zeezok Publishing has come out with not only their wonderful biographies, but also this fantastic resource to enrich our children's understanding of the life, music, and times of these Classical Composers.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

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