Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers

Did you know Mozart started learning keyboard and composition when he was just four?  I’ve been trying to figure out how to juggle that into Esmé’s schedule now…

Seriously, we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers:  A full year’s curriculum on 32 weekly lessons by Melissa Craig and Maggie S. Hogan.  Prodigy or not, there was no way we were going to get all the way through this comprehensive book in time for a review, so I skimmed through and picked out the lesson on Mozart to serve as the basis of a unit study. 

Partly because I figured Esmé could relate to a 4yo.  Partly because there is just so much supplemental stuff available on this composer.  Partly because I like his music – it just flows naturally; when playing it on my flute, it’s like the notes just play themselves. 

Mostly, though, because I loved the faith-based elements of this lesson.  I liked finding a role-model who, though having no money to give, gave anyway, composing a piece of music for a beggar to sell.  A man whose last work on earth, Requiem, spoke of God.



To fully understand classical music, your children should study each composer's biography, and there is no easier way than with A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers. This trouble-free, thirty-two–week course provides a reflective look at twenty-six famous composers, their music, and the period God placed them in. Of significant importance to those of us who want to know, the authors have also delved into each composer's character traits and Christian testimony (or lack thereof).

Included in A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers are easy-to-use maps, a comparative timeline, quizzes, answer keys, listening suggestions, intricate coloring pages, and much more. It is obvious that the authors have done the work, which means you don't have to. This is ideal for grades 4–8, but is so easily adaptable for younger and older students that it makes a perfect study for the entire family.


Recommended Age:  9-13
Publisher: Bright Ideas Press
List Price:  $34.95; on Timberdoodle’s site for $31.50
For Sample Pages and To Purchase: Timberdoodle
For More Reviews: “Because Mom Said!”

What Esmé Liked: 

Mozart’s connections to royalty.  Making the composer card.  And the map!  Finding and marking Austria on the map.

What Mom Liked:

  • Christian Focus. It’s interesting how learning more about the composer’s character traits and Christian testimony (or lack thereof) adds to my experience of their music.
  • Many Components. This would make a great notebooking project.  In addition to lessons and quizzes, it also includes composer info cards, timelines, maps, and coloring pages.  A list of listening suggestions, including website addresses, is a great feature as well.
  • Organization by Time Periods. If you are planning to study history from a timeline perspective, as we are, this fits in nicely.  The majority of chapters cover composers from the Baroque Period, or 1600, onward.
  • Ease of Use. There is a suggested 3-day weekly schedule in the introduction; however, the text itself doesn’t refer back to the schedule, so you can easily modify and adjust as needed.  The chapters are well-organized and consistent.  There is enough range of material that you can easily adapt the curriculum for multiple children of various ages.

Thanks, Timberdoodle, for providing this amazing product!  You can find more Music for Homeschoolers or request a Free Homeschool Catalog from Timberdoodle,  You can also find out about cool giveaways or join in homeschool conversations on Timberdoodle’s facebook page.

As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team, I received a free copy of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.