Composer of the Month: Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel Composer Study @harmonyfinearts
This month we are listening to a new composer. This is our first time to experience Ravel and that is always a challenge. I find I like composers more after I have listened to their works several times. It is as if your ear needs to grow accustomed to the sounds and rhythms and styles of each composer before your brain will embrace it. Ravel’s Bolero has become my favorite walking music for my time on the treadmill. The way it gets louder and faster and more intense works perfectly for my workout.

Here is some information on Ravel as background for you and your children. I have included a lesson plan that I found but please be aware that I have not used it yet. I am going to use it with the boys next week.

Maurice Ravel
French composer of the 20th Century

Link to short biography for your notebook

Link to a lesson plan for listening to and getting more out of Laideronette

We are studying Ravel on the heels of Debussy since Ravel was influenced greatly by Debussy. This more modern sounding music is very enjoyable and the boys are putting the music on more than any we have listened to this year. Mr. B says he likes the sound of it and he likes the violins.

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Link to hear samples of Ravel’s music:

As always, check your local library for CD’s that feature Ravel.


This composer is included in Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 plans.

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 Art and Music Curriculum

Art Appreciation Made Easy: Jan Vermeer


Vermeer Artist Study @harmonyfinearts

Jan Vermeer

Link to his biography

Links to some of his paintings:
1. Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665/66
2. The Music Lesson, 1662-65
3. The Milkmaid, 1658-60
4. The Geographer, 1668/69

More places to view Vermeer’s work: Vermeer on WikiPaintings

You can right click on the image and copy it to your desktop to print it out. In most cases it is permissible to download one copy for study purposes. You can print out the pieces you really like, slip them in page protectors, and then keep them in a binder to review as the year goes on.

You can also make the painting your computer’s wallpaper background and view it for a week. You can do this by right clicking on the image and then choosing to set the image as your desktop wallpaper.

Steps for General Picture Study
1. Choose the painting to be viewed.
2. Have the child sit quietly and just look at the painting.
3. After a time of looking, hide the painting from view and ask your child to tell you what he remembers about the painting. (Charlotte Mason calls this narration.)
4. That is it. It is as simple as that.
5. To extend the activity for older students, you may have them sketch the painting from memory. You can also have the child write a review of the painting for thier notebook.


Additional Ideas for Beginners

For a less Charlotte Mason approach you can prompt your child with the following questions if they are having trouble discussing the painting.

  • What colors do you see?
  • What objects can you see in the painting?
  • What is going on in the artwork?
  • Is the work of art true-to-life?
  • What ideas or emotions do you think this work is trying to express?
  • Do you like this piece of art and why or why not?
  • Do you like this artwork more now than you did when you first saw it?

My boys enjoyed Jan Vermeer’s artwork so we printed the paintings out and they put them into their art binders. I am going to put together another set of images to view later in the year for them.

Grade 7

You Can Paint Pastels-Book Review

You Can Paint Pastels Video Tutorial @harmonyfinearts

I am always on the look out for good beginner’s art books and I found a gem this week. We are using oil pastels along with Artistic Pursuits Jr. High Level 2 this year. I needed a bit more direction than the book offered so I was hunting for something to use with my boys. I found You Can Paint Pastels.

Edit to add: This book is not available new on but there are lots of reasonably priced used copies for you to order. I think this book is worth finding used and using in your family.

You Can Paint Pastels

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I highly recommend You Can Paint Pastels by Marie Blake. It shows you step by step how to use this medium and it is simple to follow. My 11 year old son worked on the still life project this morning and had awesome results. I think for moms who are looking for help with their nature journals and how to actually draw realistic things in your journals, this will be a terrific help.

Contents include:
Basic materials
Color mixing
Foreground and distance
Light, shade, and shape
Exploring plants
Still Life
Animals and people

Here is a short video I made on how to use oil pastels for beginners: Oil Pastel Demonstration- Beginners.

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