A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers {Timberdoodle Review}

Music study has been one subject I have yet to really figure out how to fit into our school. Actually, our fine arts studies have basically been non-existent. This school year, I have been more determined to fit music, art, drama, and any other form of self-expression into our school so my children will have the knowledge and hopefully be just as creative as the artists we study.

I grew up taking music lessons learning how to play the flute, clarinet, and of course the piano so classical music is quite familiar to me, but the lives of the composers and their history was something I never really studied while learning how to play their music. A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers has given me that opportunity to learn more about the composers, their history, and their music and share them with my children through a comprehensive study that covers a full year (32 weeks) of school.

A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers is written by Melissa Craig and Maggie Hogan and published by Bright Ideas Press for children ages 9-13 (or grades 4th-8th). Combining their skills of music scholar (Craig) and researcher (Hogan), they have successfully managed to put together a music study that is very well researched and put together for easy presentation by a teacher.

While covering the music periods of Ancient Music to Music in the Middle Ages, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary and the many composers who created music during these times, students will become just as familiar with the music of the 26 famous artists that are covered as they are now with the contemporary music they listen to on the radio (or their iPods) today.

Some of the composers that are covered include Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Scott Joplin, and John Williams. Craig and Hogan took special care in choosing the composers they introduce with great concern regarding the lifestyles of the composer (ex: excluding renowned composers like Richard Wagner who had a reputation of leading a blatantly immoral lifestyle” and also ties to Hitler) and being sure to present age-appropriate content for the level of student completing this study.

A suggested schedule for covering the lessons is as follows:

Day One

  • Listen to the recommended selections.
  • Read the lesson.
  • Fill in the note-taking pages or answer the Student Review Questions.

Day Two

  • Listen to the recommended selections again.
  • Fill in the Composer Info-Card.
  • Color in the timeline (see timeline directions).
  • Match the composer to his place of birth (see map directions).

Day Three

  • Listen to the recommended selections again.

Along with this helpful schedule, additional supplements used for teaching the lessons include hands-on work with composer info-cards, student note-taking sheets (and answer keys), a reproducible time-line, mapping exercises for locating birth-places of the composers, coloring pages, and games of Composer Bingo and Composer Jeopardy.

Reference information for further study is provided with a listing of links of listening suggestions, a Composer Resource List that has books the student can read to further study a composer or a musical period, useful listing of music oriented Web sites, and a glossary that covers many musical terms discussed in the lessons.

Needless to say, Lily’s favorite part of the study was the coloring. The children all enjoyed listening to the music and they got really excited when they were able to identify the composer of a song we were listening to.

I really like the approach taken with this study. The lesson planning is done for the teacher and the lessons cover enough material for any student to have a good knowledge of different music periods as well as the music of different composers who wrote during those times. The reading portion of the lessons were short enough to engage the student and not too detailed to overwhelm them.

The historical time-line was helpful for the children to have a visual of the lifespan of the artists and how many of them were peers and we discussed their shared influences during their times. They even enjoyed completing the Composer Info-Cards which were great resources for quick reminders of the people they studied.

You can view some sample pages to see if this study might be for you. Also, read more reviews of this item by fellow review members.

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You can purchase A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers directly from Timberdoodle Co. which also has a selection of music items that include books, CDs, and DVDs to spark or nurture the music lover in your child.

The product featured in this review was provided to me free of cost by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.
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2 Responses to “A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers {Timberdoodle Review}”

  • Comment from LisaRose

    This looks quite good Jennifer and well priced considering it a year long package. I am just wondering how easily accessable the recommended music is. Where do you get the music from? Do you need to buy extra CD’s etc. or do they recommend free sites?
    Many thanks, Lisa
    PS – Not sure if your children have seen Mike Venezia’s composer books but my girls absolutely adore them as they do the artists ones.


    The music selections are available online on FREE sites (ex: YouTube) and I am sure you could find some others depending upon what type of access you have (ex:iTunes, etc.). Of course buying CD’s is another option, but it is nice when you can find FREE resources.

    Yes, I am familiar w/Mike Venezia’s books. We will be using his book series of artists for our art studies. His composer books are quite awesome too.

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