Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Elementary Music Appreciation: A Zeezok Publishing LLC Review


Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
Coming from a musical family and having studied music in school, I knew what a great opportunity it was to review an entire music appreciation curriculum for the elementary grades.  What I didn't know was just how many valuable tools and great content I was going to receive as a part of this review! As you can see below Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades by Zeezok Publishing LLC includes a 354 page textbook, 7 individual storybook composer biographies, 5 audio CDs, and 1 Lap Book CD with printable material.  For this review we focused on Haydn, but with all of the composers there is enough content here to last you for quite a while, depending on how quickly you go through it.  I am so thankful for the chance to review this while my children are young, because this curriculum is something that I will be able to use in so many different ways as they age.
Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
Student Activity Book: Each composer has a section that includes a lesson plan, questions and activities that correspond with the composer biography.  In this activity book, each composer section would include a different musical element.  Haydn's section studied all about the orchestra including seating, the conductor, instrument families and symphonies.  One of my kids' favorite game was the instrument family matching (memory) game. All instruments were color-coded into families with each instrument pictured on a card and a corresponding one with the written name on it.  Other sections looked at elements of music (dynamics, melody, harmony, etc.), composition techniques, geography and music theory.  My favorite element the activity book features is a character traits study for each composer.  Traits like fearlessness and humility were noted in several instances of Haydn's life providing perfect opportunities to discuss their importance and place in the students lives.  This element is not something I've ever heard in a music classroom before!  It is woven throughout beautifully making it a seamless part of instruction.  

This book is designed to be consumable so extra activity books may be needed for multiple students.


Composer Biography: The composer biographies is one of the defining elements of this curriculum. Through a storybook reading of the composer's childhood and adult life, a picture is painted above and beyond facts on a page to be memorized.  Every important incident of a composer's life is included along with written music and illustrations. 
Audio CDs: This set of CDs includes recordings of all music referred to in the texts as well as some interesting additions.  As I mentioned before, Haydn's section included a study of the orchestra and all of it's instruments.  Disc 3 contains several tracks featuring each instrument being explained, performed, and often distinguishing elements or compositions.  In Handel's section it compares styles of music and corresponds with several tracks to illustrate them. Of course there are times for playing specific tracks, but one thing my children enjoy is just popping one CD in and letting it play while they do other work.  All of the music and examples on the these CDs alone is an amazing educational tool!
 Lap Book CD: As the title suggests, this CD contains a complete pdf file with all printable materials and instructions to create a lap book for each composer.  Below is our version of the Haydn lapbook which featured several interesting things like a puzzle, creative ways to remember facts about Haydn, his time and culture, and orchestra elements.  It was quite an undertaking and we only finished one! The content included here is really dense and reusable for years to come.


What Works For Us:  This program's recommended age level is kindergarten through sixth grade with flexible activities that can be suited to different age groups, making it perfect for an ongoing supplement to other curriculum at any pace.  While the recommended lesson plan is 4 weeks per composer, it will depend completely on the age and other activities of your kids.  My kids are first grade and preschool age so a chunk of this was somewhat over their head, but not wasted just the same. The storybook was a big hit and with the corresponding audio tracks the ground work was laid for revisiting Haydn's section in the future.  All of the orchestra discussion was giving them a great chance to exercise their skills in identifying instruments. I teach piano part time and this entire curriculum provides elements I can use to supplement from time to time in listening skills and music history,   For piano classes, co-op classes, or our own homeschool curriculum purposes, Zeezok's music appreciation curriculum equips me to fully enriching my students' relationship with music and broaden their perspective of its development.  Surrounding children at this age with so many excellent works and fantastic content certainly encourages music involvement in the higher grades, which is important for everyone!

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Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
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