Catherine has been helping me tweak the homeschooling schedule and one of her ideas was to have a subject a day. While I wasn't willing to give up math and english in the mornings I agreed that we could try that for the afternoons.
Today was the first day of the new plan and the subject/theme was music. I needed a day to review the treble clef and note duration with Catherine before her practice on Thursday so I thought today might as well be the day. Since she wanted specifically to play classical violin (I suggested fiddle, what I'd always wanted to learn, but she turned her nose up at it) I thought we could also listen to some classical music.
While poking around on the internet I found Classics for Kids. This site offers a short weekly podcast on one composer a month. This month's composer was J.S. Bach. Perfect. Okay so we'd be exploring Baroque instead of Classical but if there was ever a composer that could sell an eager kid on the violin, he was it. So he would be the focus. All that was left was for me to do my usual thing and go completely overboard.
First thing we did was listen to the Classics for Kids podcast on Bach. Next I fired up the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 which was also on the site while Catherine coloured a picture of Bach (from here).
The colouring page was simply for busy work during the music but it actually turned out kind of fun. I'd picked up some Crayola Flourescent Crayons while we were yard sailing (yes, I insist on spelling it that way) and Catherine wanted to try those. The colours are much more vibrant then the scan shows and when she came to the shaded areas of the picture she used the regular crayons and got a quick insight into how color value can can create the impression of light and shadow.
Next we did a biography sheet.
The sheet I got from a Master Planner download I bought for $5. Um...No, I didn't really need it and yes, I bought it when worried about scheduling and while looking for that one product that would ensure our homeschooling will be an absolute dazzling success but I promise it's actually been a nice little download and shucks, that's one purdy biography sheet. Right?
Catherine filled in the info, cut out a picture of Bach I'd googled and pasted it on and then glued on the little biography from a sheet I'd printed off of Classics for kids. We both decided that actually having to write down a few sentence would be a real drag for something that's supposed to be fun. The little bit at the end refers to a month of jail time he served when he wanted to change jobs but his employer, a Duke, wasn't willing to let him go. We discussed it for awhile and finally came up with that sentence to summarize the incident. Then both the coloring sheet and the bio went into her new music binder in the "Biography" section. Yes, that's the me going overboard part.
Next we snipped out another picture of Bach, wrote his years of birth and death on it and pasted it onto a piece of paper in her new Music binder. See, last night I got the idea that if we're going to poke around in western music we might as well make sure we know what periods the music came from. I sat down, went into Open Office and did up one sheet for each major period of western music from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century.The Baroque one now looks like this:
In my head I have a vision of the gradual building of a sort of timeline collage that will develop over the next year or so. But that's in my head. I have had many such plans and more often then naught they get abandoned. Still, there's always hope, eh? Anyhow, that went into the "History" section of her binder.
Next she turned to the "Music Theory" section of her binder (I had too much fun making that binder last night) and did a couple of sheets on notes and the Treble Clef. Actually, first she looked at a neat printout I found here (here's the direct link to the pdf) that makes it clear that notes are actually expressions of fractions! Too cool. The perfect compliment then was a set of worksheets called Rhythm Math that had Catherine figuring out the missing note in a measure. Next we reviewed the notes of the Treble Clef with these worksheets. I've been wanting to do music theory with her for awhile but I really didn't know how to approach it. With a violin teacher who says, "She needs to know this by next week," it's so much easier. A little bit of guidence and I can find my way.
And that's it. It took about an hour and a half and all the while I had Bach playing in the background and we were discussing different things we'd learned about his life, his work and one or two of his contemporaries. It felt light and fun but in the end we covered quite a bit of stuff. I think Catherine's one-subject-a-day idea may work out quite well.