Classical Music 101-Book Review

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Classical Music 101 by Fred Plotkin has been in my stack of books to review for next year for quite some time. It finally made it to the top of the stack last week and here are my thoughts.

I can’t claim to have read every page in this big, thick, 674 page book but I can give you a really good idea of what it is all about. I was led to reading this book on the recommendation of The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. They suggest using it as part of a high school music appreciation program. (see page 583)

Classical Music 101 is written in a different style than most music appreciation books. It is not done in chronological order and it does not focus on each composer and go through his works. Rather it covers classical music topically, such as how to listen to music and an overview of the different instruments of the orchestra. He narrows his music and composer selections slightly by sticking to Western Classical music. He highly suggests listening to the pieces he has selected and then read about the music and composer.

I have tried to come up with a practical, economic way of using this book for my own family’s high school music appreciation but nothing has really worked. There are so many CDs that he suggests that you listen to, that it would be impossible to afford all that he even says are vital to listen to. Taking this into account, I tried to come up with a way to space the purchases out over the four years of high school and even then there were dozens per year. Hmmmmm. If the aim of the book is to get you to listen to the best classical music, maybe he should have narrowed the choices down a bit for those that have a limited budget for purchasing musical CDs for their own home library.

I know I said that I wouldn’t compare Classical Music 101 to Classical Music Experience but I feel inclined to do so at this point. Classical Music Experience has one or two suggested works per composer to listen to. It also comes with two CDs of the composer’s music to listen to. For my family’s music appreciation plan, we are going to cover 9 composers per year from the book and most of the suggested pieces are ones that can be listened to very easily on Classical If we feel inclined to own any of the pieces, we then can choose the ones we really want with minimal financial investment. This book will be used for all four years of high school.

I would not recommend Classical Music 101 as a main text for high school appreciation, but I would think it could be a decent reference book to have on hand. The book itself is very affordable, but all the CDs he suggests that you listen to that add up to a small fortune.

Happy listening,
Harmony Art Mom

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Connection to Earth and Sky: CM Education

I started this series of Friday articles on Charlotte Mason’s Vol. 3 School Education because I thought it would be *nice* to read and to share with you my thoughts on what she wrote. I know many of you are very busy home schooling moms who don’t have much time to read Charlotte Mason yourselves so my sharing with you what I learned would be a way to “spread the word”. Well, let’s just say I am getting more than I bargained for. I thought I would read each chapter, just a few pages each week, and then take a few minutes to write up a comment for the blog. Sounds good, huh?

This commitment to reading a chapter a week has been such a positive, up-building experience for me, I have gained much more than I have given. Charlotte Mason speaks to my heart and my mind in her writings. She lays it all out and makes you realize that this thing that we call “education” is really very simple. Man has made “education” complicated and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Chapter 8, titled Certain Relationships That are Proper for Children, has blown me away. I don’t think I can stuff into one blog entry all the treasures of this chapter. I am going to take it a bit slower than normal and just cover the first page of the chapter this week. Yes, the first page! You should see my copy of this chapter, with it’s underlining, stars, arrows, and highlighting.

Here are my thoughts on the first page, page 79-80.
First a quote:
“Geology, mineralogy, physical geography, botany, nature, biology, astronomy–the entire realm of science is like a beautiful fenced green field and we need to bring the child to the gate and leave it open for him. He doesn’t need a thorough collection of facts. He needs what Huxley calls ‘common information’ so that he’ll feel some connection with things on the earth and in the heavens.”

This would have been my dream world as a child. To have my parents just open a gate for me to explore the world in a meaningful way, would have been the greatest delight for me. Offering experiences in this way would be a way of reaching our children with real, relevant things; things that inhabit their own worlds where ever they live and at whatever time in history they are. I am going to work harder at opening the gates wide and letting my boys experience what is in their world to delight them. I am also going to work harder at helping them make connections between what we are learning and their own lives. Science done in the Charlotte Mason way brings deeper meaning and relationships and “He’ll feel as interested as if he owned it all…”

Harmony Art Mom

Draw Real Animals-Book Review


Here are some images from our projects done from Drawing Real Animals by Lee Hammond. I highly recommend this book for children (or adults) that want to learn the step-by-step approach to drawing real animals. It has helped us tremendously in our nature journals this year.

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Drawing real animals 1draw real animals polar bear
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animal noses draw real animals dog draw real animalsbird draw real animals
Excellent drawing book!

Harmony Art Mom

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