Posted in Homeschooling, Music

Review of Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing

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We have been studying Frederick Chopin with this wonderful homeschool music program, Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing.  Even though my son and daughter are in high school, I felt this music appreciation program would be useful for our family.  Considering our son wants to major in music and loves arranging music himself, I felt he could learn a lot from this program.  My plan is to use this program as a springboard for a more in-depth music appreciation study for our high school-aged son by adding in more self-investigation and exploration directed by his interests.

Zeekok Publishing, a homeschooling-family owned business started providing homeschooling materials in 1993.  According to their website, “Our vision at Zeezok publishing is quite simple: to publish top quality materials that will complement your educational needs.”  I have always loved looking at their materials when we have attended any homeschool conventions.  So when we had the chance to review this Music Appreciation program, I was thrilled.

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For this review, we received: one student book and the nine composer biographies listed below:

  • Frederic Chopin, Early Years
  • Frederic Chopin, Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

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I love how the student workbook comes already punched, so if your family chooses to keep it in a three-ring binder you can with minimal effort.  For each lesson, students read in one of the biographies and complete exercises in the student workbook.  The activities in the student workbook include comprehension questions, true-and-false, and other similar questions.  For each composer, there is a weekly outline at the beginning of the section, a timeline, other interesting facts, character qualities, additional reading suggestions and more.

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Also included are QR codes and the website for an IRL that allows the student to access the various musical tracks required.l  Our family was able to easily use a QR reader on my phone to access these files.  Our family found the musical selections to be of high quality and worth listening to so far.

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The course begins with Chopin and then covers Schumann, Wagner, Foster, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and MacDowell.  As someone who enjoys music, our son (even though he is older) was excited to have the opportunity to learn about these composers.

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We found the biographies interesting to read, even if younger than our children’s ages.  We appreciated how the biographies talked about both their younger years as well as their older years.  We also found the stories to be filled with interesting details such as relating the story of how Schumann decided he would be a musician and let his mother know of his decision by sending a letter.

All of the biographies are in one book except for Fredric Chopin, whose story is divided into his early years and later years and Peter Tchaikovsky whose story is broken into one about his story and one about the Nutcracker Ballet.  While we have not gotten to Peter Tchaikovsky yet, we are looking forward to reading about him since our daughter took ballet lessons.

In addition to the materials we received, families can also purchase a lapbook and a coloring book.  Instructions for what to complete in the lapbook are provided in the student workbook.  
You can find Zeezok Publishing on Social media on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Our family has been very pleased with this homeschool music program and are looking forward to completing it.  We feel it is a very balanced program that contains worthwhile information.  So if you are looking for a homeschool music appreciation program, check out the Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing

Other members of the Home School Review Crew are sharing their thoughts of this program as well this week.  Click here or on the graphic below to check out their reviews.

Posted in 2019 Home School Review Crew Posts, Home School Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Music, Online Homeschool Programs

Review of Simply Music’s Music & Creativity – Foundation Course

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If you have thought about piano lessons for yourself or your children but are unsure if it would be worth the time and investment you’ll want to check out the Music & Creativity – Foundation Course from Simply Music.  For this program, your family will need a piano or a keyboard with at least 49 keys, a printer to print out the resources, and optionally 2 sets of headphones along with a tablet or phone.

When I was a child, my parents initially signed my sister and I up for piano lessons.  However, in the way many things for children go, I was allowed to quit.  Now as an adult, I regret quitting.  So when I saw the opportunity to review this program, I was excited.  This was not going to be a program for my children to review (my only son who wants piano lessons was already taking lessons from an in-person instructor this summer.

This online piano program includes online piano lessons, printable resources including a keyboard you can print out for when your student needs to practice either when you are on the go or do not want to disturb other members of your household, downloads of the soundtracks for the musical selections, a resource notebook, and a printable version of Music and the Art of Long-Term Relationships.

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Simply Music provides online piano lessons to students in the comfort of their own home.  According to a quote on the website, “From his earliest years, Neil Moore, the Founder of Simply Music and creator of the Simply Music Piano Program, heard music and pictured it in his mind in terms of shapes and patterns. This relationship to music became the basis of his entire approach to learning and playing the piano.”  This relationship with music provides a dramatic contrast to the way many piano instructors approach their lessons.

As a busy homeschooling mom and blogger, I love the convenience of being able to learn the piano on my own time in my own home.  This program encourages the students to go at their own pace rather than rushing through the material.  From watching the videos, I can tell that Neil Moore, the founder of Simply Music, genuinely cares about his students and loves what he is doing.

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For this review, I used a tablet for watching the lessons and listening to the soundtracks.  I plugged a set of earbuds into my tablet to hear the lessons and soundtracks.  Then I plugged in a set of headphones into the jack on our 61-key keyboard.  This allowed me to hear both what I was playing on the keyboard and what was being said or played in the lessons.

The program starts out allowing the students and their families to either dive right into a section where they play actual music or you have the option to go right to the lessons.  I elected to go straight to the lessons. I love how easy the screen is to navigate.  Once logged in, I had the option of what course to select.  Then I had the option to print out and download the additional files necessary for completing the course.  Once that was done, I was able to dive right into the lessons.

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Mr. Moore starts off by providing basic information about the keys on a keyboard and basic information necessary to play.  Then he moves on to discussing proper techniques and more.  I happened to be watching some of the videos going about the background information in our bedroom, and my husband wound up watching with me.  We both found the approach Mr. Moore uses to be easy to understand and learn from.

I was able to quickly and easily navigate to the page to sign up for the course online.  Once signed up, I was able to easily sign in and begin the program.  In this program, the emphasis appears to be going slowly to ensure learning is done properly.  I loved how the lessons were broken down into manageable sections.  Although for younger children or those with no background in music, more time may need to be devoted to the first lesson to ensure mastery.

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I feel mastery is necessary for this program.  So during the review period, I gave myself the grace to do exactly that – master a lesson before moving on to the next section.  So during this review, I only made it into the 3rd lesson.  Right now, I am trying to master the first part of this lesson, which has me working with my right hand.  Because I feel comfortable taking my time, I feel confident I will be able to master this piece. Here is a video of me practicing part of the first song in the third lesson.

One of my favorite parts of the program is the music selections.  The arrangements have a richness and depth to them.  The soundtracks are available as piano solos, vocal accompaniments, accompaniments, as well as improvisations,   The quality of these soundtracks are amazing.  Ode to Joy and Amazing are two of the selections, which are two of my favorite pieces of music.  While some of the other pieces I am not familiar with, having listened to the soundtrack, I look forward to playing them in the future.

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In addition to the actual piano lessons, I received a PDF copy of Music and the Art of Long-Term Relationships  I found this book to be one that spoke to my soul.  In junior high and high school I played in the band and also sang in the choir.  So music has been a part of my life.  Our children have been brought up singing in church.  Then they picked up musical instruments.  Our children tend to be self-motivated for the most part. This book delves into the need for parents to play an active role in their children’s musical endeavors.

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I recognized the importance of having a personal relationship with music, both for myself and for our children.  The idea of using music as a form of self-expression causes me to recognize the importance of this statement.  For our family personally, musical expression is a way for us to praise, honor, and worship God.  I love the idea of being able to sit down at a piano or keyboard at any time in order to worship God.  I love how the book emphasizes the idea of having a lifelong relationship with music versus allowing students to just quit.  I also appreciate how it talks about the highs and lows that will come with learning music, but recognizing also those highs and lows will be temporary.  This book is one I definitely feel is worth reading and goes hand in hand with the entire philosophy of Simply Music.

I would recommend parents and older students read the book either before beginning the program or shortly after your family begins the program so you understand the basis of the program and what your role as parents should be.  Truly, the term “Life Coach” fits the job we as parents do perfectly.  Because I am the one doing the program in our home, my husband is my “Life Coach”.  He does an excellent job of helping recognize that statuses and feelings change (even when I may not want to accept that fact).

You can find Simply Music on Social Media on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.
Whether you have a background in music or not (or whether your child has a background in music or not), I feel this program would be a wonderful way of learning to play the piano.
So if your family is interested in online piano lessons from a different perspective, check out Simply Music’s Music & Creativity – Foundation Course for yourself.
Other members of the Home School Review Crew are posting their thoughts on this program this week.  Click here or on the graphic below to read other reviews.

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Posted in Homeschool Band, Homeschooling, Music

Weekly Wrap-Up for June 2, 2019

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Today is the second day of June, and I am not sure where this year has gone to right now.  It seems to be speeding by at times while dragging at other times.  This week saw four of our family members participate in a Memorial Day event with the Crossroads Community Band we are part of, and our second son came to watch us.

The week before, our daughter came to see us perform at an indoor venue.  With us living in Texas, I can not say I blame her for her choice.

Percussion & Piano Lessons for our son

This coming week will see one activity resume – our youngest son will be participating in a beginner band class for percussion as well as private lessons for piano.  I am interested in seeing how much he learns during the 6 weeks.

Flute Lessons

At some point during the next week, I am going to see when I can begin flute lessons with one of the members of the Community Band who also teaches (and teaches flute specifically).

Other than these music lessons we have very little planned for this summer beyond decluttering and organizing our home in preparation what should be our last duty assignment.  Although, we are just preparing for the inevitable time when it will come.  However, we have no idea of when we might actually see those orders.  We will also be doing a light summer school schedule with our youngest two who are 18-years-old and 16-years-old respectively.

So what is going on in your world this summer?  I would love to hear from you.

 

Posted in #Nathan, Birthdays, family, Music

Our Youngest Son’s Birthday

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So today is my youngest son’s birthday.  Eighteen years ago today, he came into the world.   He was my one child whom I actually believed might enter this world with out any coaxing or intervention.  For a couple of weeks before he was born, I felt like he was on his way.  But that was not to be the case.


Instead on Friday, October 20, 2000, we went to the hospital to be induced.  We went in to the room.  My husband and his sister-in-law (his brother’s wife -aka my coach for all four children) and I settled in.  It was typical labor for me in that I spent most of it on my side because of my blood pressure.  At some point during the morning the nurse wanted to check how far along I was, so my husband stepped outside of the room.  To our surprise, he found two of his aunts there because the daughter of one of the aunt’s was in the room directly beside me.  Talk about interesting.  The nurses began taking bets on which one of us would deliver first (me on number 3 or her with her first).  He was my one child who made us nervous prior to delivery -well other than my first who did not seem interested in being born).  

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This son came into the world and brightened our world.  There was not too much he was afraid of.  He would be on the opposite side of a hotel swimming pool and jump in having absolute faith that his father or I would be there to catch him.  He is also the son that required our first trip to the ER for stitches. 

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He is best friends with his baby sister, well for the most part.  He is also our first child to fracture a bone, which was quite the adventure for me.  He is full of hugs and love.  He has a heart of gold. 

Right now he is learning to play the bass clarinet and the viola in addition to continuing his study of the alto saxophone and the piano.  He is quite musical and has intentions of pursuing it in the future.

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So happy 18th birthday to my wonderful son Nathan! If you would like to read what other members of the Home School Review Crew are blogging about this week, click here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in family, Home School Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Music

Thoughts for Tuesdays -October 2, 2018

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So last week saw something things come into our home.  First, we had the pleasure of having Mr. Tom Rye and his wife of the Oklahoma Home School Band come to our home.  They drove to Texas to visit our Victoria Home School Band director, meet our director in person and also bring our family and another family some instruments.  Hands down, we definitely won the largest instrument contest because our oldest son acquired both an Upright bass and a full-size cello.  These two instruments are almost so big, they take up almost all of the space in the back of our 12-passenger van.

Then our youngest son acquired a bass clarinet along with a full-size viola.  The best part about getting the bass clarinet was the private instruction he received from Mr. Tom Rye in our home.  It really made our son’s weekend.  While deciding between the three violas we were offered, the decision ended up being fairly clear cut.  Our son is really pleased with that instrument as well.

Here is a picture of our son with the winning cello.

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And because it is Tuesday, here are some pictures of tasty things we have eaten recently.  These include pork chops, a cake our oldest son made as a result of a challenge from work, and a meal my husband and I ate at Jason’s Deli.

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If you want to read what other members of the Home School Review Crew are blogging about this week, click here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in Electives, family, Monday Musings, Music

Monday Musings for Monday, September 10, 2018

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So this is the week that things start to get back to normal for our homeschool life.  This afternoon the Strings program portion of our Homeschool Band and Strings program begins.  This year, my husband and daughter will continue playing the violin.  Our oldest son will continue playing the cello (once his full-size cello arrives), and will be adding the string bass to his instrument list once we are able to get him one.  I will be learning the violin and our youngest son will be learning the viola.

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Then on Thursday, band classes begin.  I am going to try playing the flute again in beginner band while playing trombone in the advanced band.  However, if the flute does not go well, I will play the french horn in the beginner band.  I figure since I already know how to play the french horn, I should be good there.  My husband is going to use our youngest son’s alto saxophone to play in the beginner band while playing the clarinet in the advanced band.  Our youngest son will be playing the bass clarinet (once it arrives) for the beginner band while playing his alto saxophone for the advanced band.  Our middle son will be playing his baritone horn in both groups.  Then our oldest son will probably be playing his cello in both band groups if all goes according to plan.

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In addition to classes resuming, our oldest son will be going on Friday to take his certification exam to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.  I am excited for him.  The above picture is from when he received he completed his course for Nursing Assistant before taking the certification course.

Over the weekend, we will have different friends over to eat with us on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday, we are planning on fixing homemade Japanese and Chinese food to include Sesame Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, egg rolls, Japanese french fries (zucchini strips and onions), and possibly sushi.  Then on Sunday, we are planning on grilling Shish-k-Bobs along with a salad, wild rice and probably some other items as well.

So what is going on with you today?  I would love to hear from you.

Posted in family, Music, Weekly Wrap-up

Weekly Wrap-Up for the week ending on September 2, 2018

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So for the past two weeks, I have not been doing a lot of blogging.  My husand took leave from work so we could celebrate our anniversary and hopefully get some things done around the house.  But then we received a surprise that my husband’s parents along with one of his dad’s sisters came to visit us.  So needless to say, we did not do any school work, either week, but we did make a lot of memories and eat a lot of good food.  Now on Tuesday, we will get back to our normal routine.  However, this year, I will only have two students.

Next week, we will be back to our normal activities including the homeschool band and strings programs.  I am looking forward to seeing how things turn out.  Our oldest son is going to be getting a full-size cello along with a 3/4 Upright String bass if all goes according to plan.  Our youngest son will hopefully be getting and starting the bass clarinet along with the viola – in addition to his saxophone.  I am going to hopefully be adding the flute and violin.  My husband plans on adding the alto saxophone (he will be sharing our youngest son’s saxophone) along with his clarinet and violin.  In the meantime, our second son will be continuing with his baritone horn, while our daughter continues with the violin. (The pictures below were taken at our spring concert).

So all in all, we are looking forward to this school year of band.  So how has your week been, I would love to hear from you.