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JaneE

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Reply with quote  #1 
The November 6 Friday Performance Pick on your blog says:
"We have covered a lot of ground in the past year in terms of musical eras, styles, and genres. But you don’t achieve musical understanding just by covering a lot of different works. You should look for things that strike your interest, and then dig deeper and listen more closely.  Listening repeatedly to a handful of musical works will pay better dividends than listening only once or twice to many works.  So focus first on really getting to know a handful of works. As you become thoroughly familiar with a work, set it aside for a while and move on to another work. When you come back to a work you really learned, even after quite a long while, you may be surprised at how well you remember it. One of the commentators in our courses described it as coming across an old friend."

As a way to expose my teenagers to a wide variety of pieces this past year, I had them read your Friday Performance Pick blog article and listen to the video music link each week.  As I read the above quote, though, it made me wonder if they would be better off spending that time listening to one particular piece.  We don't have unlimited time and I want to use it to best effect.  Exposure to a variety of different styles of music must have benefits, or you would not write the blog articles every Friday.  But I really thought wide exposure would be better than going in-depth with a very few works.  Can you explain why in-depth with a few is better?

Can you also elaborate more about "really getting to know a handful of works"?  Would this occur by the work on the pieces learned through musical instrument lessons?  How would this happen without lessons, especially if a person (like me) is not very musical?  Would listening in the car to the same piece numerous times help me be "thoroughly familiar" with a piece?  What am I listening for?  Does this mean that I know it well enough that I can anticipate what is coming next when I hear the piece?  I find listening repeatedly to the same piece to be rather boring (sorry, but true).  How do I make it interesting and something that my kids or I would want to do?

Thanks for any suggestions you have!
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Friederike Lehrbass

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Reply with quote  #2 
The homeschool curriculum we're using has one composer scheduled for 3 month and 6 different pieces are chosen, that we can listen to during those 3 month. That really helps to come to know that composer.
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adodger

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Reply with quote  #3 
Which curriculum is it?  What ages? Does it have art and other subjects in it too?
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Friederike Lehrbass

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Reply with quote  #4 
It is Charlotte Mason based and is called Ambleside online( AO). http://amblesideonline.org/ComposerSch.shtml    It also has art study:http://amblesideonline.org/ArtSch.shtml  .  This is from 1st to 12 grade.Yes it has all subjects.  For the higher grades I want to add more music and that's why I got interested in Professor Carol. The AO music and art studies are great as a foundation, but I want more for the upper years( for music). I will of course continue with the art and composer studies and you don't have to homeschool in order to do the 3 months composer and art studies( year 7 adds an art history book and we use Artistic Pursuits for our practical art), anybody can do those.We also try to read a story or biography about the current composer and artist, but it's not necessary.
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JaneE

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Reply with quote  #5 
Have you been using Ambleside since first grade for all your subjects?  Is that your primary curriculum or do you use it as a supplement to other curriculum?  How many children have you been teaching with it?  I use a variety of curriculum, and would like to add more music and art to younger grades. Thanks!
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Friederike Lehrbass

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Reply with quote  #6 
Yes, I have been using it since grade one for my 2 children.They are now in grades 5 and 7. we have a forum, you're welcome to join and ask all your questions.Would love to have you. For the younger ones I also use Hillyers A Child's History of art or Young peoples story of our Heritage ,that has the sams info, but divided in several books. I wonder, does Professor Carol also work for younger children?
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JaneE

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks for the information and invitation.  The Professor Carol online classes are designed for middle school or high school credit.  Due to the material covered, I would only have mature middle school students do the courses.  My older children did America's Artistic Legacy, Imperial Russia and Early Sacred Music over a 2-year period when my son was 12 and 13 and my daughter was 16 and 17.  They enjoyed doing many of the assignments together.  Those courses incorporated much history and were excellent.  My daughter is now in college and the Professor Carol courses were her favorite high school courses.   I have counted them for high school credit for both kids.   The older kids did call in the younger ones for interesting video links in the assignments, and my younger kids picked up a good bit from that exposure. 

Professor Carol does have a 2-DVD course called Exploring America's Heritage that is for upper elementary and middle school, but we have not done it.  I have thought about buying it, but the material is covered in more depth in America's Artistic Legacy, and I think I would rather wait for my younger children to be old enough to take the high school course for credit.  Carol has a write-up that compares the two courses at http://www.professorcarol.com/comparing-american-history-courses/

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Friederike Lehrbass

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks so much for your info.So now you're trying to find something for your younger children? The AO info would fit well for them. I have looked at the Exploring Americas' History DVD set and considering to do it with my 11 and 13 year old before I jump into the other courses.I prefer buying the hardcopy, bec then I have something in my hand for the money. I might at times do both. Will see. I'm waiting for Early Music one to come out on DVD. We just studied Hildegard von Bingen for the last few months and really enjoyed it. I read a book about her to them slowly over several week and then we listened to one CD often during evening read aloud times in the background. I want to learn even more about her,there is so much to learn about each composer and epoche. When we studied BAch I bought the 700 page about him from Albert Schweitzer for myself to read, but haven't gotten very far in it. We also read a book from Opal and Wheeler about J.S.Bach.
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Hank

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Reply with quote  #9 
There's always some tension between stressing repetition or introducing more variety. Of course, you need a certain amount of both. It's kind of like learning a language. You need repetition drills to get a foundation and to build facility, but you need to engage in conversation and add some reading to stretch your vocabulary.

I introduce a new musical work each week in the blog because we've found our readers enjoy discovering new pieces of music. People without a strong background in music often tell me that they want some help choosing. So the blog focuses on variety. But it's not intended to be a substitute for repetition and focus. It's more like building vocabulary.

I think it's more difficult for people these days to listen to music in a really focused way. We have been desensitized by being bombarded with unwanted music all the time. We don't learn to contemplate music but rather to think of it in therapeutic terms: Is it good for this, or that? We listen superficially while multitasking.

I believe the Charlotte Mason approach correctly focuses in the early years on building the ability to contemplate music and to acquire good listening skills. It's not necessary to learn theory or to analyze forms at this stage. Just as you can enjoy a good story without learning techniques of plot development, you can enjoy music without taking it apart. But you can't enjoy a good story that's being read in the background while you struggle with math or discuss your problems at work. You need to focus on the story and, as any parent knows, children want to hear the story over and over again. They internalize it, they imagine it in different ways, and the experience of hearing it gets better. The process is, or should be, much the same with music and other arts.

We have listening plans in Discovering Music that are designed to build familiarity with certain works through repeated hearings. We also have suggested listening lists that students can use as a guide for branching out. I hope that the weekly blog posts will give you a bigger picture and help you build some context for understanding music. But you still need to build a core of knowledge with certain works that you come to know intimately. Those become your guideposts.


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studiomaya

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Reply with quote  #10 
Hello,

I wanted to jump in here because the guided listening curriculum that is a part of Discovering Music is nothing short of phenomenal. I am the only musician in my family of six, although we all love music, and I have struggled with trying to pass on something of my relationship to music study to my children, none of whom "took" to piano lessons at all. I feel that the guided listening has given my younger two children (sadly, I didn't do this with the older two) an incredible gift. They dutifully executed all of the required listenings and filled in all of the sheets. I am sure they thought it was tedious when we first started. But we did the listening together, and whenever anyone had a reaction (good or bad!) it was fodder for immediate discussion. It was incredible to observe the change in how they assess music, even the pop/dance/Broadway music that they enjoy with friends. They have become much more critical, listening for motifs and influences from other composers. At the same time, they are more tolerant, because many things that they initially had a bad reaction to, they learned to respect and (sometimes!) enjoy. I think they now assume that they haven't given a piece a fair chance until they have heard it a number of times. They now return home from swim practice "complaining" that they spent two hours in the pool with Wagner or Mussorgsky in their heads.

While I do understand that it can seem "boring" to listen to the same piece over and over again, I think having to listen to each piece closely so many times (I think six with Discovering Music) helps you to become familiar with the underlying structure of the music without realizing it. If you are a musician, you struggle with the very underpinnings of the music, so you naturally will acquire a sense of how it is put together, and you will admire (or perhaps curse!) the composer's genius. But I really feel the only way for a non-musician who is not studying the piece to really LEARN a piece is to listen to it over and over again, preferably with a list of questions to answer at hand. It has done my children wonders and I really wish I had done this with my older two! I don't know of any other guided listening courses but I have come to believe that it is absolutely necessary if you want to enjoy music.
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JaneE

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Reply with quote  #11 
Wow!  Thank you, studiomaya and Hank, for your answers.  It especially helped to hear of your experience with your kids doing the guided listening in the Discovering Music course.   In the past, I looked at the Discovering Music listening, but I just could not see the importance of listening so many times when it sounded so boring.  Thanks for opening my eyes to what can happen.  I will look at doing it with my kids who are still in homeschool (only one is in college).

Friederike, I too prefer to buy curriculum in hard copy, and I debated trying out the Circle of Scholars, but I wanted a course that would help my kids see how everything is intertwined and related, the various kinds of arts and what is going on in the world at the time (what becomes history).  I did not just want a list of songs/paintings that go with a particular era.  I wanted explanation of how it all fit together in a way that my teenagers would be able to experience and remember.  Prof. Carol's America's Artistic Legacy sounded like just what I was looking for, so I thought it was worth a try since that I could cancel anytime.  The big advantage of having it online is the assignments that have links to a variety of websites that amplify and enhance learning of the material.  Prof. Carol's lectures are great, but in my opinion, what really made the course effective were the assignments.  Using hard copy, it is difficult to type in long website addresses, and there is no way to update them when websites change.

We finished America's Artistic Legacy a year ago, but today in the car, I had NPR's Performance Today on the radio, and the announcer said they were going to play a Benny Goodman piece.  Right away, my 14-year-old son said, "He was the King of Swing, right?"  Yes, he was, and my son never would have a connection like that without America's Artistic Legacy.  Incidents like that happen frequently, and I am so glad my older kids have the connections in their brains that enable them to relate to and appreciate art of many various kinds, thanks to that course. 
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