Category Archives: Music and Composer Study

Good Music, Brighter Children – A Book Review

“When music in all its forms (singing, playing a musical instrument, listening to classical music, and so on) is part of the home environment, it creates a positive atmosphere, one which is conducive to learning and aids in the acquisition of early language. When music is taught comprehensively and sequentially in the schools, it increases math, science, reading, history, and SAT scores. It also reaches at-risk students by increasing their confidence and those with learning disabilities by making the learning process easier. Additionally, studying a musical instrument helps develop imagination, invention, creative thinking, communication, and teamwork skills – precisely those attributes needed for a twenty-first century global work force.”  

~ Sharlene Habermeyer, “Good Music, Brighter Children”, pg. 9.

good music, brighter children

And so starts a new book for me.  I initially got Good Music, Brighter Children because I had read a blurb somewhere about how the author had used music to help her child who has learning differences and was struggling with public school format. I got so much more than I hoped for, which was great.

The first section of Good Music, Brighter Children starts with the argument for critical need for all of The Arts in schools: music, art, drama, etc. It full of information about how classical music affects a person’s brain. Classical music actually uses all parts of the brain: left, right, front, and back and really enhances learning – of all types – in amazing ways. The results of numerous studies are quoted and referenced that prove that people involved in the arts in one way or another are more successful in their academic, emotional, social, and behavioral lives. It is astounding that there are so many hundreds of studies showing this need, and yet our leaders – local, state, and federal – do not see these when making and setting laws and policies. How heartbreaking it is to hear that libraries, musical, art, and drama programs are being dropped in favor of spending money on sports and math/science programs that are struggling when the opposite should be done. Dr. Jean Houston of the Foundation for Mind Research believes that “the brains of children not exposed to music arts education are actually being damaged because these non-verbal modalities help them with skills such as reading, writing, and math.” (Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 22)

“Music students are developing those areas of the brain that expand human creativity. They broaden their thoughts of originality, independence, curiosity, and flexibility, as they interpret, analyze, and break apart the music in new and interesting ways.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 115

In the second section, the author lays out ways to involve music in your children’s lives before birth and on. She recommends specific music, etc. The section that talks about the importance of learning to play an instrument even teaches you how to select an instrument and teacher, plus giving you the ways to involve your children further in music. She covers the numerous benefits from learning to play and sing music. Of particular interest to me are the charts found on pages 140-143 of the Eight Types of Intelligence with their definitions and how that intelligence relates to music and the arts. Teaching my kids effectively is made easier when I understand how they relate to the world and how they learn best. 

“We cannot appreciate the arts unless we become involved with them on some level, and one cannot become involved with music without becoming immersed in all of the arts. Music, drama, the visual arts, and dance all have the power to uplift, inspire, and edify the human spirit.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 123

The third section explains how studying the arts actually increases our abilities to understand and comprehend math and science. Many executive directors of large companies understand this, which is why they donate so generously to The Arts through such places as PBS’s Mobile Masterpiece Theater and Texaco’s Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts and The National Endowment for the Arts which allocates grants to local libraries and organizations that provide local programs for children to experience the arts. This results in library programs, free musical experiences, art camps, and other ways throughout communities. 

“The arts give beauty and meaning to our lives, and they are the means by which the character and achievement of a civilization are measured. Monuments fall, civilizations perish, but artistic creations survive. One cannot study a nation without studying the music, art, and literature of that nation. It is through the arts that we understand and appreciate both the individual and the culture.”

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 121

The fourth section of Good Music, Brighter Children covers how music preserves our cultural heritage. She urges us – begs us – to become advocates of the Arts in our homes, schools, and communities. To help us actually accomplish this desire, she gives practical suggestions on ways to do it. Many are easy and free, involving simply our determination to JUST DO IT.

And last and best section of all – the resources!! Starting on page 259 and ending on page 304, there are suggestion after suggestion (in the form of lists, publishers, and places to contact/purchase) such as:

  • Classical Music for Kids to Enjoy (by composer)
  • Favorite Classical Lullabies to Play for Your Unborn and Newborn 
  • Musical Stories about Composers
  • Excellent Classical Titles for Children
  • Classical Music in Movies, Cartoons, and Commercials
  • Music to Study By (by composer)
  • Reinforcing Your Child’s School Experience
  • Additional Material for Home and Classroom
  • Fiction about Music, Books about Composers
  • Books about Ballet
  • Books About the Orchestra and General Music
  • Books about Opera, Musicals, and Choral Music
  • Folk Tune Stories
  • Classic Music Videos
  • Internet Resources for Music Information, National Organizations, Curricula, and More
  • Arts Resources for Parents and Educators
  • Music Catalog

This book has been helpful for me in deciding what direction to take for our Charlotte Mason Music Studies. We have been listening to and enjoying classical music as part of our CM learning atmosphere for almost 4 years. My girls have learned a lot and it is a joy to have them recognize and appreciate certain composers. One of my daughters told me a couple of years ago that she needs/wants the music on during school because she could feel it helping her brain. 🙂 Now I better understand why.

Now I am off to Amazon to track down a couple of interesting looking resources… 😉 

Click here to obtain a copy of Good Music, Brighter Children. My copy was the original 1999 version, but the cover and link I chose to share is the updated 2014 version, which has updated and expanded resource lists.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and I receive nothing in return for my opinion. 

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O Come Emmanael

I know that I posted this last year, but it is such a wonderfully done version of this song I wanted to share it again!

Every time I watch the beautiful scenes of Christ’s life accompanied by the light delicate piano and rich warm cello, I get teary.

What a magnificent gift in every sense of the word!

O Come Emmanuel

“The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”

I was totally unprepared for this amazing story.  I picked up the book the other day while I was browsing the library shelves thinking “oh, I love the movie”.  The book, unsurprisingly, is so much MORE than the movie had time to touch on.  I couldn’t put it down!

As you know from the movie, the von Trapp family lives in Austria when Hitler takes over.  She doesn’t dwell on that situation for long, but long enough for the reader to know how intensely her family unhappy her family was with their new situation. They lost all their money in the uncertain economics of the time – the bank failed.   She shares an experience of how the schools started teaching that the parents were nice, old fashioned people and for the children to leave them alone – and not talk about what they learned in school.  She also shared an experience of sitting down in the new German museum built by Hitler, and then realizing that he sat with his commanders at a table next to them.  She observed them for an hour or so, and decided that Hitler was really quite “common” and “coarse”.  When they turned down an opportunity to serve the Nazi’s for the third time, the family had a council and decided to leave “because you can’t do that three times without consequences”.  They planned a mountain hiking expedition to Italy.  The day after they arrive, the borders were closed.  They do what they always did – immediately started to pray and LOOK for solutions.  Over the course of the next few years, we see them kicked out of America when their VISA expires, go to Europe, return to America and get thrown in jail for being spies, struggling to live and find their footing in a new and strange (to them 😉 ) place.

The book is wonderful – it flows and invites and encourages the reader to experience life with Trapp family, to to love and appreciate beautiful music and it’s message, to value hard work and success, to love and support one another, and most importantly –  to have complete faith and hope in the Lord.     

How Firm a Foundation

Faith is the key to everything.

We talked about faith in Relief Society today and discussed Hebrews 11 and Alma 32.  Several sweet sisters shared some of their faith building moments.  Then at the last, we changed the closing hymn to this one.  I love this hymn – I have for years.  But it has been a while since I really read the words.  They are uplifting, encouraging, and wonderful.  I hope they bring you the same sense of peace and comfort they did me.

How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

 Hymns, How Firm a Foundation, no. 85

O Come Emmanuel

Check out this touching video of  ThePianoGuys playing this sweet Christmas carol.

It is wonderful – I love how the music (light, delicate piano blended with rich warm cello melody) is so suitably reflected in the visual portrayal of Christ’s life.

This is one of my personal favorites now!

Check it out:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugV6QGcafEE&feature=player_embedded

Music Study (aka Composer Study), Part 3

My dad loves music and listened to quite a bit of it while I was growing up.  I really appreciate that background as I am studying the composers now.  I hear a familiar piece and then make the connection with the composer.  Loving that…thanks, Dad!

This list is a compilation of several lists and scraps of paper I have collected over the last couple of years.  I hope that it is in some way helpful to you.  The variety has been a great help to me in planning for our school years. =)

Medieval/Middle Ages (1150-1400):

Music during the Medieval/Middle Ages is characterized by the beginning of musical notation.* Here are some Medieval/Middle Ages composers:

  • Gilles Binchois  1400-1460
  • Guido de Arezzo  990-1050
  • Moniot D’Arras  ? (actively working 1213-1239)
  • Guillaume de Machaut  1300-1377
  • John Dunstable  1385-1453
  • Perotinus Magister  1160-1240
  • Leonel Power  ? (1370-1385) -1445
  • Hildegard von Bingen  1098-1179

Renaissance (1400-1600): 

The Renaissance signifies the rebirth of classical learning and an increased patronage of music.* Here are some musicians during that period:

  • Jacob Arcadelt  1500-1568
  • William Byrd  ? (1540-1543)-1623
  • Claudin de Sermisy 1495-1562
  • Josquin Desprez  1440-1521
  • Tomas Luis de Victoria  1548-1611
  • John Dowland  1563-1626
  • Guillaume Dufay  1400-1474
  • John Farmer 1560-?(1591-1605)
  • Giovanni Gabrielli  ?(1553-1556)-1612
  • Carlo Gesualdo  1566-1613   (Note: this man’s personal life history is not a good one.)
  • Clement Janequin  1485-1558
  • Orlando Lassus  1532-1594
  • Luca Marenzio  1550-1599
  • Claudio Monteverdi  1567-1643
  • Jacob Obrecht  1450-1505
  • Johannes Ockeghem  1410-1497
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina  ?(1525)-1594
  • Thomas Tallis  ?(1505-1510)-1585
  • Adrian Willaert  ?(1480-1490)-1562

Baroque Era (1600-1750):

The word “baroque” comes from the Italian word “barocco” which means bizarre. The Baroque period was a time when composers experimented with form, styles and instruments. This period saw the development of opera and instrumental music.*  Here is a list of Baroque Composers:

  • Dietrich Buxtehude  1637-1707
  • Johann Sebastian Bach  1685-1750
  • Francesca Caccini  1587-1640
  • Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet De La Guerre  1665-1729
  • George Frideric Handel 1685-1759
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully  1632-1687
  • Henry Purcell 1659-1695
  • Pachelbel 1650-1700
  • Jean Phillipe Rameau  1683-1764
  • Dominico Scarletti 1680-1750
  • Heinrich Schutz  1585-1672
  • George Phillipp Telemann 1680-1760
  • Antonio Vivaldi 1675-1741

Classical Period (1750-1830)

  • Ludwig von Beethoven  1770-1827
  • Johannes Brahms  1833-1897
  • Francesco Cavalli  1602-1676
  • Frederic Chopin  1810-1849
  • Christoph Willibald Gluck  1714-1787
  • Franz Joseph Haydn  1732-1809
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756-1791
  • Johann Pachelbel  1653-1706
  • Niccolo Paganini 1782-1840
  • Franz Schubert 1790-1820
  • Carl Maria von Weber  1786-1826

Early Romantic Period (1830-1860) and Late Romantic Period (1860-1920):

  • Isaac Albeniz  1860-1909
  • Mily Balakirev  1837-1910
  • Amy Beach  1867-1944
  • Vincenzo Bellini  1801-1835
  • Louis-Hector Berlioz  1803-1869
  •  Georges Bizet  1838-1875
  • Aleksandr Borodin  1833-1887
  • Johannes Brahms  1833-1897
  • Max Bruch  1838-1920
  • Anton Bruckner  1824-1896
  • Frederic Chopin  1810-1849
  • César Cui  1835-1918
  • Claude Debussy  1862-1918
  • Edmond Dede  1827-1903
  • Gaetano Donizetti  1797-1848
  • Paul Dukas  1865-1935
  • Antonin Dvorák  1841-1904
  • Edward Elgar  1857-1934
  • Gabriel Faure  1845-1924
  • Stephen Foster 1830-1860
  • Cesar Franck  1822-1890
  • Gilbert and Sullivan 1870-1896
  • Mikhail Glinka  1804-1857
  • Louis Moreau Gottschalk  1829-1869
  • Charles Gounod  1818-1893
  • Enrique Granados  1867-1916
  • Edvard Grieg  1843-1907
  • Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel  1805-1847
  • Joseph Joachim  1831-1907
  • Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov  1844-1908
  • Ruggero Leoncavallo  1857-1919
  • Franz Joseph Liszt  1811-1886
  • Edward MacDowell  1860-1908
  • Gustav Mahler  1860-1911
  • Felix Mendelssohn  1810-1840
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer  1791-1864
  • Modest Mussorgsky  1839-1881
  • Jacques Offenbach  1819-1880
  • Niccolo Paganini  1782-1840
  • Giocomo Puccini  1858-1924
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff  1873-1943
  • Gioachino Rossini  1792-1868
  • Camille Saint -Saëns  1835-1921
  • Alma Schindler  1879-1964
  • Franz Schubert  1797-1828
  • Clara Wieck Schumann  1819-1896
  • Robert Schumann  1810-1856
  • Jean Sibelius 1865-1957
  • Bedrich Smetana  1824-1884
  • Johann Strauss II 1825-1899
  • Richard Strauss  1864-1949
  • Arthur Sullivan  1842-1900
  • Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky  1840-1893
  • Giuseppe Verdi  1813-1901
  • Richard Wagner  1820-1880

Post Great War Years (1920-present)

  • Bela Bartok  1881-1945
  • Leonard Bernstien  1918-1990
  • Irving Berlin  1888-1989
  • Aaron Copland  1910-1980
  • John Denver  1943-1997
  • Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington  1899-1974
  • Michael Giacchino  1967-
  • George Gershwin  1900-1930
  • Kenny G  1956-
  • Scott Joplin  1868-1917
  • Henry Mancini  1924-1994
  • Mark O’Conner  1961-
  • John Powell  1963-
  • Maurice Ravel  1870-1930
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff  1870-1940
  • Howard Shore  1946-
  • Dmitry Shostakovich  1900-1970
  • Stephen J. Sondheim  1930-
  • John Phillips Sousa  1854-1932
  • Igor Stravinsky  1880-1970
  • John Tesh  1952-
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber  1948-
  • John Williams  1932-
  • Yanni  1954-
  • Yo Yo Ma  1955-
  • Hans Zimmer  1957-

* This information was taken from the About.com Music 101 web page.  You can find short highlights of the composers lives there, as well as links to books, much and much more.

Music Study (aka Composer Study), Part 2

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

By Barbara Krafft

In my first post about Music Study, I explained that we study a composer and his works for 6-8 weeks at a time and why that is an important part of our children’s education.

This week I will share how we accomplish this study through a simple process –

  • I introduce the children to the composer’s name and invite them to listen to it the first time while we eat lunch, work on a handicraft, draw, or do a puzzle.
  • Then we listen to it everyday during some portion of school as background music.
  • Sometime during that 6-8 week period we read a book or biography about the composer.
  • At the end of the study, we do a notebooking page about the composer’s life and our favorite piece that we learned.  Often the girls will share the reason it is their favorite piece.


That’s it.  Simple. Effective. Wonderful.