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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Composer Study: Our method

We have Composer Study scheduled once a week, on Wednesdays. At different times, though, throughout the week, it is my goal to have us listen to the term's composer's work, at least once a day... we rarely achieve this, but we always ought to aim high, right?

Wednesdays, which are also our Geography and Artist Study focus day, we take a closer look at AO's term composer. For example, AO had scheduled Liszt for the 2008-2009 winter term. We have just finished reading a mini-biography and have listened enough to his work to be able to recognize some of our favorites of his pieces.

Steps 1 - 3, I get done on a Homeschoolplanning Day at some point long before I need them, as soon as the links are available. I usually do this as part of my planning at the beginning of the year.

  1. Check the Ambleside Online Composer Schedule page, for the music selections for the term. Note the selections on paper or in a Notepad file.
  2. I go to the library and check out some cds containing the composer's works. (Of course, that's what I did when in the US.) I tried to find one cd that had all or most of the term's selections.
  3. When the library is unaccessible, I look online for free downloads. I usually first google the name of the work... "Mahler: Symphony 1 (Titan) free download" It turned up this link from which you can mark to listen online & this one from classical archives - you can play a preview online or buy.
  4. When I can't find anything free online, I buy mp3 downloads from amazon or walmart. The nice thing is that you can buy ONLY the music you want, but you do have to sometimes buy it in several parts. For the Symphony no.1 I found 4 separate downloads, but for the no.9, I was able to find all four parts in one. Yay! :) However in this case, I opted for buying an entire mp3 album (Mahler: The Essential Orchestral Works), because it had ALL the symphonies I was looking for, for $7.49... less than I could buy them all separately for.
    • Mahler: The Essential Orchestral Works

    • Mahler: Symphony 1 (Titan):

    • Mahler Symphony 9

    • Bruckner Symphony no.4:
      (these are the same, just by different orchestras... choose between these two - if you're like me, you'll choose by the cover art ;)

  5. After I've gathered/purchased my term's music selections, I can burn a cd. I haven't done this yet... I just make a file on my computer under 'My Music' with the composer's music in it. For example, I make a new folder, Mahler_Bruckner. But burning a cd would be VERY convenient if we had a stereo! ;)
Weekly Study
  1. I have a cd case that has all our AO music in it. For some people this is their regular listening... we are not so refined as yet. :) This cd case is accesible to the kids and they are welcome to ask for any music at any time - as long as it doesn't unreasonably distract anyone else. We have a rule that the kids don't handle the cds, to minimize scratching (it still happens inevitably, but it cuts done on the damage!).
  2. On Wednesdays, we officially have scheduled Composer Study suring our reading time 10:30-11:30. During this time I put on the music for a little bit and then we read from The World's Great Men of Music Story-Lives of Master Musicians by Harriette Brower or Getting to know the World's Greatest Composers" books by... Mike Venezia, if we have one on the term's composer. We read just a little section to divide it up over the term.
  3. As this is one of those 'icing on the cake' studies I do NOT stress if it doesn't happen every week.
Someday Ideas:
  1. We do occasionally look up the term selection on YouTube. That's fun. There are a lot of well done informative videos with bio information on the composer with their compositions as background music.
  2. Sometimes, I look up sites on the internet that are safe for all to peruse.
  3. I'd love to take the kids to a symphony... someday

Our materials:
Recordings of the Composer obtained from internet, library cds or home cd library.
Getting to know the World's Greatest Composers" books by... Mike Venezia.
The World's Great Men of Music Story-Lives of Master Musicians by Harriette Brower
Internet searches on the term's composer.

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