Friday, April 13, 2007

Music School

There must be something artistic in the air because I cannot get my monkeys to do anything other than music and art this week! Today, it was music, music, and more music. Our only "activity" was a picnic at Super Playground (sigh, the really cool wooden one that is being torn down and replaced with something generic and plastic, I'm sure) and we listened to Themes to Remember: Volume 1 on the way there and back.

I have to say that I'm disappointed in it. The "themes" are so short. How can you even get a feel for the music, much less remember it, when it's over so quickly? Even more importantly, it seems to me (though I have a very uneducated ear, so how would I know) that the quality of the orchestra is not very high. It almost sounds as if they are all being played on a synthesizer! I know for a fact, that many songs that I am used to hearing in full orchestra are being done on an organ. It just sounds cheap. But again, who am I to judge. But again, if it sounds "cheap" to me, how would it sound to someone who really knows what they are talking about??

The book has some nice biographies in it though and a nice timeline with other suggested pieces to listen to. I plan on using the books (I spent enough for them!) as a spine, of sorts, to guide us through the composers but I doubt we will be listening to the CDs much. Even Cassia said, "I like the other words better!" - referring to Beethoven's Wig. I had read somewhere that Beethoven's Wig was less educational because it only had *silly lyrics* but to tell you the truth, I find the Themes to Remember lyrics sillier. For the most part, they just repeat the composer's name and the title of the piece over and over and over. Beethoven's Wig tells a story and usually gives some history or something as well. Take Schuman's The Happy Farmer for example. T2R lyrics are something to the effect of "I'm so happy happy happy but I need new shoes. What man can make my shoes?" That's not silly? BW has this great little story about the Schumans and how they all played music together as a family. Anyway, if you are considering Themes to Remember for a music appreciation curriculum, consider just using the Classical Magic website as a spine and the library and downloaded mp3s as your resources. Skip the silly lyrics.

ANYWAY (wow, was that a rant, lol) we had a fabulous time at the park. Not too many people were there, just MomG and DadR, but the dynamics of our little group was just right. Three 5 or 6 year old boys, two 3 or 4 year old girls and a 4 year old boy. They played in the sand, on the play structure, Duck-Duck-Goose, Red Rover, tag, Knights in the Castle, etc, etc, etc. We could not get them to leave. I always love that (after the fact, lol). The next time our preschooler group meets it will be at a new park. I'm sad about that, but I guess life is full of changes and many of the ones that I've experienced over the past year have been very positive - even though they aren't ones that I would have chosen for myself.

When we got home from the park, Greyson and Cassia were asleep and Cameron headed right for Story of the Orchestra. I put in the CD and told him to feel free to just flip through it however he wanted. He started at the beginning of the instrument section and had me read every single page to him. We listened intently to every musical selection, picking out the elements that we were directed to in the book. He particularly liked the low instruments (double bass, contra-bassoon, tuba) but said, several times, that he wanted to play all of them. Yes, all of them. And he doesn't just want to play all of them, he wants to own all of them. Even DH saw how excited he was about this and agreed to get him violin lessons. Did I tell you that my (former) step-mother bought him a violin?? She was going to give him her old one, but realized that it would be too big for him... so she bought him a brand new one! And then she gave me her original one, lol. Looks like we'll be needing double lessons! Anyway, DH said that we could spring for a lesson a week pretty soon. :) Coincidentally, a woman just advertised private lessons in our homeschool newsletter this last month!

And so we didn't get our spelling worksheets done again. Ooops. Nor did we do phonics or math or science. Oh well. I'm not too worried about it... though I am starting to wonder again whether we are Classical or Unschooling. Funny how that matters so much to me. I guess all that really matters is that Cameron drew a picture yesterday of a little boy and his dog and the sun and all three had the BIGGEST smile you have ever seen in your life. DH said that that was a really good sign, psychologically speaking. :)


Vegiemama said...

Oh my, I think those lyrics would drive me bonkers! I'm much more for listening to music and just being able to enjoy it with what it is, not having to memorize words along with it unless I want to ;-)

G said...

I know what you mean about the classical vs. unschooling bit. That is an ongoing debate in my head, and no, I'm not sure why it's so important to me either. Last time at the park, I spent the afternoon talking to K about unschooling, and she made it all make so much sense to me! I finally decided that we'll just spend the summer actively unschooling, and see how that goes. Still planning on classical for fall at this point though! Cool music website btw!

Cathy said...

I can't believe I'm reduced to commenting on your blog! ; ) But I wanted to say that Lexi is going to begin violin lessons this summer and I actually DO have to go with her! The teacher uses the Suzuki method and the parent must participate/observe...I wish I had MY own violin! :)

Good to know about themes to remember...I had gone a different route but was wondering - when you bought it - if I hadn't made a mistake (knowing you, and finally remembering what it was). I'm relieved!

Cathy said...

Now I had to see why it let me sign in as a Google blogger and remembered I had toyed with the idea of a blog a couple of years ago, LOL.

I wanted to add that I think all of our primary years have leaned towards unschooling...and what I've seen in the children and myself is that as time progresses (in all my 2nd grade experience) is that we've slowly started to develop more structure as we go along.

In part because I feel more responsibility to making sure her progress is appropriate and in part because she is more inclined to academic structure. I'm feeling comfortable that we'll all continue to grow in that direction. And that the little ones will probably go through the same sort of journey.

I keep telling you too - Charlotte Mason! ; ) The best of classical and unschooling combined - and the perfect approach for these young years. I say lean towards unschooling and a loose CM approach is what I mean, LOL.