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Composer study for 3rd grade- help me with ideas please (accidental Xpost)

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We're going to focus on 4 composers next year, one for each quarter (9-10 weeks each) and read biographies (Opal Wheeler and Madeleine Goss as well as any picture books we can get from the library), watch DVDs, listen to their music and learn the themes in Themes to Remember. *I will be reading aloud any longer biographies that she cannot read on her own.


I want dd7 (who will be 8 by then) to have a project for each of them. I don't want to complicate this too much so do you have anything ideas on how to keep it simple yet effective?


I have a few ideas:

- create a display board or large poster with information learned about each composer


1. Important facts about their lives, create a timeline.


2. What or who inspired, motivated, disciplined them in their lives?


3. What are the special characteristics of their music?


4. What compositions are they famous for?


5. When listening to the composer's compositions, what emotions does the music invoke?

She's not quite ready to do an essay, but I'd like to create a formula for her to follow in order to help her. I'm not a lapbook type of person and she already notebooks, I want this to be something special for her to continuously work on with a grand finale so to speak. She is taking piano but she's not ready to tackle any of these compositions just yet.


I want to finalize this idea so I can move on to other stuff for 3rd grade. Also if you think this is a bad idea, go ahead and tell me. I want to set her up to succeed so she won't be left to her own devices with this but I do want her to start learning about organizing information and presentation.


Everyone has such wonderful ideas here, I figured some of you might have some fabulous ideas for this! :001_smile:


Thank you!

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Well, if you really want to follow along with Charlotte Mason philosophy, then I have to say don't do it :) Not that it is a bad idea, but I just think it is effort where effort is not needed, enjoyment is. Let her put her time investment in writing etc into history or other subjects, and let the composer thing really be simple. We do 3-4 composers per year, and at first I thought we needed to do extra work along with it, but I realized that first, my main goal is enjoyment and appreciation of the music, second, familiarity and recognition. So I introduce the composer with a brief bio if available, then choose a piece that we listen to every day at snack time or lunch time for about 2 weeks. Then we move on to another piece. From what I can tell of your daughter, she is going to naturally ask you questions, so you can be prepared to answer, but not to teach, let her draw her own conclusions about the music. Even my 3yo will look up sometimes during parts of Vivaldi and ask, why is this music sad? and the others often answer things like, I think that just represents the cold winter (from Vivaldi's seasons), or , that is what a violin sounds like. I did not really spend a lot of time on this, other than maybe pointing out how joyful "Spring" sounds or ask them to see if they can hear the leaves fallling in "Fall" etc. or to listen for a specific instrument and see if they can pick it out. Sometimes my daughters want to dance to a piece so I will put it on and let them pretend they are Valkyries riding to valhalla (wagner) or sugarplums dancing in the nutcracker.

We also listen to the classical kids bio. stories, which gives them a little info about the composer. I have been amazed by how much they have internalized just by doing this, and best of all, they really enjoy it, and it has become a part of our life, instead of a school assignment. Now that we have covered a number of composers, I will sometimes ask them if they want to hear a particular one for lunch, and I am always amazed by how strongly they will lobby for their favorites!

All that to say, I just really think this is one of those times when your planning can defeat you, yes you could have her create a poster or a short paper or something, or you could let this be something very different, and just sit back and enjoy - look at it like poetry for now - memorize and enjoy, don't study: http://sttheophanacademy.blogspot.com/2008/03/poetry-in-our-home.html (link to my post on poetry)


Just my thoughts, Anne Marie

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WE ususaly listen to one song from the composer for a couple of weeks until we are familiar with it. We play it during snack time, phy-ed time, craft time, etc.


Sometime during the term we may do a lesson on the Classics for Kids website (dd LOVES these) or read a kid-friendly biography of the composer in short chunks. THere is a fun one called LIves of the Musicians or something to that effect. However, facts are not our main focus. Developing an ear for good music and uplifting the soul, thereby glorifying our Creater is our goal. Beautiful music is one way to practice the presence of God.


Probably more than you wanted to know, LOL!

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I'm inclined to agree with Anne Marie and Tami about this, but I'll offer a couple of suggestions anyway :)


1) Who, what, when, and where?


Have dd identify the composer, color a picture of his portrait, and learn what he composed (two or three compositions), when he lived, and where he lived. This information could be included on a note booking page, a poster or a time line. You could structure the pages, or time line, in such a way that more information could be added later if you decide to revisit these composers in greater depth, or listen to other classical pieces by teh same composers.


2) Select 4 of the Classics for Kids CDs, if you like them. (We do :)). Play the CD, then play each of the selections included in the CD in it's entirely, or use compositions featured in CM that also appear in CK, to expose her to a broader variety of each composers work, within the framework provided by CK. As she becomes more familiar with each composition, listening to the CK CDs will be like revisiting familiar "old, friends".


3) If the composers don't need to be from a particular time period, and you like them, consider using The series by Anna Celenza as to organize your composer studies. Her books include The Farewell Symphony, Pictures at an Exhibition, The Heroic Symphony, Bach's Goldberg Variations, and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.


Happy planning!

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I think your first paragraph has great ideas.


"Learning about organizing information and presentation" - does she have other notebooks in which she is learning to organize information? Does she have to present poems to you (recite them to you or anyone else)? Does she present artwork, or piano pieces to you? If so, then she is learning organizing and presenting skills.


Display board/poster: What about, instead of the specific questions you wrote, asking her to tell you one (or two or three) new piece of information about the composer/musical piece she learns/finds fascinating each week. Then have her write a sentence/cut out a magazine picture/draw a picture/create a collage or mosaic/whatever else she can think of, and glue these onto the poster? You might find that she will answer some of those questions anyway (such as what composition is this composer famous for).


And for a young child like that, instead of asking "what emotions does this music invoke" I'd probably say, "What does this music make you think of? Skipping through a pile of leaves? Cool - go find a picture of that and cut it out for your poster! Or draw what the music makes you think of!" Of course, maybe you only phrased it that way for us here on the board and you'd phrase it differently to your dd! :)


In short, I guess my way of keeping it simple would be to read the biographies, put the music on during playtime/choretime/mealtime, watch some fun videos, read some other related books, and ask the child what about the composer or music was interesting and record the answer somehow. We tend to write narrations here about artists and composers rather than do posters or lapbooks, and I'm amazed at what my kids pick up and find interesting about the composers! They also recognize music elsewhere that we have listened to at home.

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Personally, I am more interested in my children being able to "recognize" the actual piece of music and associate it with the composer. Learning about the composer is just a bonus. So we spend most of our time listening and relistening to the CD's. We actually narrate more the music then the composer, KWIM? So I'm wanting them to tell me what they know about the music, how it makes them feel, what parts they like, so that they begin to really listen to it. Then we compare different works by the same composer. Your daughter is taking piano (I seem to remember) and is probably at a point where she can do this with some skill.


We enjoy this series of books by Opal Wheeler...



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I like tying art and music in with history. For gr. 3 are you going to be using SOTW 3? There are many, MANY composers to choose from in that date range. Perhaps you could figure where the split lies in your quarters to correspond with SOTW. Then, choose one major composer whose main works fall in that date range.


I would keep it very simple though. Find the major works of that composer and pick 3-4 of them. Listen to each for a couple of weeks in the quarter. Perhaps listen while you're reading SOTW?... just a thought. Perhaps read some biographical info on the composer, but be aware that there are many, very, important composers whose lives are not suitable reading material for young children. This does not lessen the import of their music, though!


For a project, if it were me, I'd have my ds learn a simple piece from each of the composers, even if it meant finding a "modified" arrangement for easy piano. But, then, my ds is learning piano so that's where that applies. I don't know if your dd is learning any instrument, but that's a thought. She could also learn to sing the melody of one of the major pieces, or a portion thereof.


I wouldn't make a project for art or music that didn't include actually doing art or music, but that's my own preference. I find the doing of art & music, one of the best vehicles for understanding art & music.



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Why do you want a project for each composer?

You could have your dd pick her favorite piece at the end of your "term" and play it during a special time with your family.


At the end of the four "terms" you could have her describe her favorite composer/composition and share why she chose it.


I think timelining is a great tool. We are also studying composers next year: three. We keep a timeline book- so we will just place them in the appropriate place. I will have my son color the picture for the time line book and narrate to me all that he can about the composer.

If she is a good writer: you could write her narration and have her copy it for her notebook.


I don't know if any of this is beneficial.

With all the learning your third grader will be doing, you might want to consider if you want to make composer study so "skill" focused... if that makes sense.




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We are going to do something similar next year, but one big thing we're going to include are visits to hear music by the composers we study LIVE. :D Due to this I am not choosing who we study yet. I need to wait and see what live music performances will be available in the Fall and Winter.

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Thank you all because I needed this. I'm going to make four posters, each will have a place for a coloring page, a timeline to fill in together and a place to put the composer's better known compositions (listing them). We'll make the poster together and for fun- it'll just be an art project we do together.


As for the other details all of you listed, those will be accomplished through what we'll be doing. I don't need anything, we already have the books and resources for this.


Thank you! :001_smile:

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