Marvelous Monday- ART AND MUSIC

Right off the bat this week I think I should tell you that I have my BA in Music (Voice) and I have absolutely no artistic ability other than walking around art museums.

This means two things:

1. Although I have high standards for music curricula in our home, I'm not very good at implementing them.  I think I just live music with my kids, and the formal let's-sit-down-and-talk-about-music teaching of it goes by the wayside.

2. I am the opposite with art curricula.  I have used quite a few things with varying degrees of success, and I think I've given my kids an appreciation of a wide variety of art in a more formal way than I have with music.  The older ones can recognize historical context, several notable artists, and important art works to a level at which I think is appropriate.

Those two caveats in place, let's talk about music curriculum:

Purchase compilations of classical works and listen to them.  Read the liner notes and tell your children, "This is Bach".  As you become familiar with each piece, you will soon find yourselves able to recall pieces as you hear them in the store, on the radio, or in movies and commercials.

A fun series to familiarize yourself with individual works are the books by Anna Harwell Calenza, such as The Farewell Symphony,The Heroic Symphony, and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  The books are nicely illustrated, each telling the story behind the piece and each containing a CD of the piece as well.  Very nice.

If you want to familiarize yourselves with classical composers, you can check out any number of Mike Venezia's books in the series Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Composers.  The books are written on a kindergarten- 3rd grade level, and cover the greats:  Mozart (my favorite), Bach, Beethoven, and many more.  I don't think these books are the ultimate resource, but they seem to be the best that's available at the present time.  Many libraries carry them, so check there first if you're not sure you want to invest in them all.

When I was in college studying music, I had the driest, most uninteresting music history teacher humanly possible.  What a pity.  Now that I am past that part of my education, I have discovered that music history is indeed exciting and interesting, for art and music truly are a reflection of what is going on in our culture at any given time.  Just to make sure we're on the same page, I'm talking about the history of Western Music; Eastern, indigenous, and tribal music is quite another subject altogether.

My favorite stand-alone resource for music history is a series of books by David W. Barber, the first of which is called Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys.  These are extremely light-hearted books needing some editing as appropriate for the ages you're teaching.  Great for Circle Time, great for a fun summer read-aloud.  I realize they aren't the Norton Anthology, but they are memorable.

Do you have a child who is interested in taking voice lessons, but you're either not prepared to incur the cost (voice lessons can definitely be a luxury item) or don't know where to turn?  I highly recommend Singing for the Stars by vocal coach extraordinaire, Seth Riggs.  My personal interest is vocal physiology, with a particular emphasis on good vocal technique.  Mr. Riggs teaches healthy singing, and he does so across the genre spectrum: everything from pop like Michael Jackson to the demands of opera.

As for music theory, most music students will be given a workbook to use by their instrumental teacher.  If your child is learning at home, however, and you are looking for a straightforward approach to theory, I'd recommend the Theory Time series.

And now for art...

Years ago we participated in a lovely little once-a-month co-op in which a mom used the Meet the Masters curriculum.  It has been a long time and my memory regarding specifics is fuzzy, but I know I loved it.  In a nutshell, the program highlights one artist at a time from the point of view of the artist.  The students are introduced to several of the artist's works, then have the opportunity to try their hand at a work in the style of each particular masterpiece.  If you're interested, you can read all about their downloadable curriculum on the Meet the Masters FAQ page.

We've also really loved Discovering Great Artists, which also teaches a bit about each artist and their style, then presents a project in the style of the artist.  These are accessible projects, things that can be achieved even by an art-impaired mom like me.

There are many art resources on our shelves, most of which I've picked up from library sales and used bookstores.  Look for discarded books on different painting and drawing techniques, as well as books with a generous amount of pictures.  Books such as Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces, Art Fraud Detective, and the Eyewitness series.

Then give your kids great tools, such as Prismacolor pencils (you can get a good price on these at Michaels by using the weekly 40% off coupon) and Lakeshore Learning scented clay (it's yummy!)

Need project ideas?  My favorite sites/blogs are:

Hearts and Trees

Harmony Art Mom

The Crafty Crow

Dick Blick Lesson Plans

We also love the Art With a Purpose series, which I wrote about once before... good for early elementary and very affordable.  And since I'm being really lazy now, read about Creativity Express, which I've also written about here before.

Whew!  I know there's more, but it's a holiday weekend and I have a hammock calling my name.  Check out Cheryl's Marvelous Monday post, too!