April 10, 2018

Music Appreciation 1 by Memoria Press {Curriculum Review}

Music Appreciation 1 (Memoria Press)~ A Review
One of the subjects I was adamant that we would add to our studies this year was Music Appreciation. I am sorry to say that though I started strong using a course I designed for myself, I petered out. Needless to say, when I had the chance to review the Music Appreciation I set from Memoria Press, I jumped on the chance. I hoped that it would not only be a mix of music history and listening skills, but also enjoyable for my boys.

About Music Appreciation from Memoria Press

Memoria Press has long been known for their award winning classical style curriculum and other products. Not only do they carry a full line of complete grade level curriculum, but they also carry an extensive collection of electives including foreign languages and music. One of the music courses is their Music Appreciation 1 set.

The Music Appreciation 1 set is a course that is designed to increase the student's appreciation of music itself by studying some of the greatest pieces in the canon of Western classical music. They are taught in their historical context and by introducing things such as musical form, rhythm, notation, and melody in order to given them a fuller understanding of how music works, but also music in general. This course covers 26 pieces of music. Each chapter contains information about the piece, historical context, and musical concepts illustrated by the piece. This includes a biography about the composer of the piece itself. There are also facts to remember and listening exercises.

Included in this set:
♫Music Appreciation Book I
♫Audio Companion CD's

All the listening music selections taught in this course can be found via FREE playlist links provided by the company on the website.

This curriculum is geared towards grades 3-5 and currently retails for $23.90.

My Thoughts on Music Appreciation 1

I chose to review this product for both of my boys--one is in 2nd grade and the other in 6th. This put us on either side of the recommended grade level. But because of my past experience with Memoria Press products, I was pretty confident this program was going to be more advanced than easy. The Memoria Press products are pretty rigorous.

When I received the product, I started flipping through the book and was thrilled to see the songs and composers which were included (many favorites like Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Camille Saint-Saens, and more!). As a pianist and music lover, I was thrilled that I was going to have a chance to introduce my boys to some of my favorite composers and most loved songs! They are introduced in approximately chronological order. I noticed that at the end of the book, there were review quizzes included. I looked and it appeared they broke the chapters down in groups of about 4--so the first review for instance would be on chapters 1-4. By doing it this way, it makes about every 5th week a review week over the previous chapters. When I wrote Memoria Press about a possible lesson plan, they basically confirmed what I suspected. Work one chapter per week, and then spend a week on the review material. This gave me an excellent starting point.

Each chapter of the book is broken down like this:

I. Listen
Play the song for your students

II. A Little History
History about the era the song was written in, as well as the composer.

III. Musical Concept
This section teaches something about music itself. Usually a music vocabulary term. Then there are selections on the accompanying CD which help demonstrate whatever concept is being discussed.

IV. About the Piece
Information about the specific piece of music being studied. More selections on accompanying CD to go with this section.

V. Music History
More vocabulary terms are taught in this section relating to music or the music era.

VI. Facts to Remember
Collection of the vocabulary discussed, tidbits about the composer or song to remember

VII. Listen Again
Listening to the full selection again with notes for a deeper appreciation of the song based on the lessons taught in the earlier sections of the chapter.
Sample of Chapter 4.
We were able to get through 5 weeks of material with the book following this routine:

Day 1: Completed sections I and II for the chapter.
Day 2: Listened to song again and completed sections III, IV, and V for the chapter
Day 3: Reviewed section VI and completed the final listening with notes for section VII.

It is easy to cover a chapter doing music appreciation three days a week. You could stretch it out more if you wanted, but really, this only takes about 15-20 minutes of time each day to accomplish.

One thing I added--each time I added a new composer/song, I would play a snippet of a previous song and they had to tell me who wrote it and what the song's title was. This kept it fresh in their minds and made for a better job completing the week 5 review.

Because BOTH boys were doing this, I let them share the work on the review quiz. Because I knew who could probably answer what, I just asked them back and forth questions and then they confirmed with each other their answers. I found it interesting that my oldest son (age 12) remembered more facts about the composer and music history, while my younger son (age 7) did better identifying the songs with their composers and random facts (like Bach having 20 children and Vivaldi having red hair). While the random facts don't really help with actual music history, it gives him a connection with the composers or time period. And I actually love learning random facts too. LOL.

The next time we do a review, I will make sure and spend a couple days reviewing the facts to remember for each chapter included on the review before giving the review. There were a lot of vocabulary terms on the quiz and that's where the boys stumbled the most.

So--what are my overall thoughts?

1. This is an excellent program and I LOVE how it is laid out. It reminds me so much of the way music appreciation was taught in college. I love the deep critical listening aspects connected with the songs. I also love the historical context for when each song was written.

2. It is very easy to teach, even without a teacher's manual or lesson plan. Definitely open and go.

3. I appreciate the songs are all linked up on both YouTube AND iTunes with a playlist on a separate page. This allows me to keep it saved and have access to it, regardless of whether I am on my computer, Kindle, or phone. I simply need internet connection.

4. I do wish the selections on the cd were numbered to match the book--or that the book was numbered by track (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc) instead of as (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, ect) because I had to go and write the track numbers by each selection in the book to keep from getting confused.

5. While this is geared to grades 3-5, I was correct in my initial prediction that it would be an advanced course, and work well for upper grades too. In fact, I think there is enough here to use it for even the early high school level, much less middle school. Many of the facts were too complicated for my almost 3rd grader to remember. If I was labeling this, I would say that it is for MIDDLE SCHOOL rather than upper elementary--although you can adapt it for younger students, like I did. It is an excellent program, but it IS meaty!

6. The book is not consumable, which is good in my opinion. The review tests in the back are not able to be torn out. Because I wanted them to answer the quizzes without looking in the book, I copied them so the boys would write in them easier. Especially since the answer key is immediately after. I would like to see the quizzes be perforated for easier removal from the book. But the fact this book is NOT consumable is a major win for using it over and over--unlike other one time use student books.

7. The price. Seriously. Under $25 for an excellent curriculum. There are (if you count in the review weeks) 33 weeks worth of material. That is an entire year working on just one chapter per week (which is how it is designed to be used).

Long story short--It is perfect for my needs! It gives me the guidance I needed so I didn't have to create it on my own. I love the incorporation of music history, and historical context for teaching each composer and selection. And the introduction to basic music terminology. And the boys like it!

Thus far, their favorite song of the four we have done is definitely Vivaldi's Winter. In fact, when we were listening to my music on my iPhones, a song by our favorite group The Piano Guys came on. It was their cover of "Let it Go" from Frozen. As the boys were listening they suddenly exclaimed--"Mommy! He totally mashed up "Winter" by Vivaldi in that song!" And sure enough, when we listened to it again--there were the passages from our selection from Music Appreciation clear as day. It was clear, that while the song wasn't called a "mash up" like some of their other popular/classical mash ups, they 100% incorporated the main theme passages from Vivaldi's "Winter" from The Four Seasons into the song. And I was proud of the boys for recognizing the music, because this is why I wanted them to study music appreciation to begin with!

Want to Know More About Music Appreciation 1 and Memoria Press?

For the last several weeks, we have been working with the Music Appreciation 1 set from Memoria Press. You have seen how much we love this program, but I encourage you to read how other crew members used it--and how they used the other Memoria Press products I didn't review including Traditional Spelling I, Traditional Spelling II, Prima Latina, Latina Christiana, First Form Latin, Second Form Latin, Third Form Latin, and Fourth Form Latin + Henle I
Spelling, Music Appreciation & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}
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I am happy to say that Music Appreciation 1 from Memoria Press was everything I was hoping it would be! I look forward to continuing to use the book this fall when we start our new year (we only have 7 weeks left of this one). I also will plan on purchasing the Book 2 set whenever it is available! It definitely worth the price--and it's not even very expensive! I encourage anyone who wants to add in an open-and-go music appreciation curriculum to consider this one by Memoria Press. It would also be excellent for a co-op or actual schoolroom use!

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