Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Learning About Franz Schubert with Zeezok ( A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason

Music Appreciation Book 1 Workbook
A short time ago, the kids and I switched from a more traditional style homeschool structure to a Charlotte Mason style curriculum.  One of the things we've incorporated that we were not already doing was both an Artist and a Composer to focus on each month and it has truly been a wonderful addition to our learning.   In a world where kids thing Justin Bieber is good music, I wanted the kids to learn to have an appreciation for the masters such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach and to recognize at least a few of their masterpieces.

For the past month, the kids have been learning about Franz Schubert using Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing LLC.  I was absolutely thrilled about this review. Designed for elementary grades K-6th, I honestly hoped that this program would be the perfect way to introduce great composers and their music to the kids while also giving me some general direction as to how best to teach the material to them.  For the purpose of this review, we focused on learning about Franz Schubert.

What We Received 

The kids were so excited when we came home to find a very heavy box on our front steps on a Saturday morning.  Inside was a treasure trove of books and materials that we would be using to learn
about seven different classical composers.

Included with the Music Appreciation Book 1 collection are:
    Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
  • Music Appreciation Student Activity Book
  • Seven biography books from the Great Musician Series featuring  Joseph Haydn, George Frideric Handel, Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Niccolo Paganini, and Franz Schubert
  • Five music CDs that include various samples of works from all seven composers.
  •  Music Appreciation Lapbook CD

I was already familiar with the Composer Biography books that were included with the collection and had many of these books on my Amazon wish list prior to this review.  Highly recommended to use with Composer studies, each book is written by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher and are great additions to any Charlotte Mason style education.

How We Used It

One of the first things I noticed was jumping into any point in the workbook is very easy - you do not need to work from start to finish through the various composers. Each unit is a stand alone unit study. Taking roughly four weeks per unit to complete (a suggested weekly schedule is included at the start of each unit) .  The consumable workbook is a full color workbook with pages that are both perforated and hole punched for easy removal and is packed full of activities and information. Each composer is given an assigned unit in the book which is cleared color coded on the edge, making it very easy to turn quickly to where you left off.

Since the kids and I had already attempted learning about Franz Schubert, we decided to start at the
end of the workbook and focus on him.

Each week starts with us reading a chapter from the corresponding Biography book aloud.  Throughout the book are sample pieces of music by the composer which are also included on the music CD's so that we could listen to each piece when we came to them in our book.  (The Weekly Outline lets you know ahead of time which CD and which tracks will be used for that week.).  Reading comprehension questions are included at the start of each week in the workbook and then various activities that either reinforce what was read or provides more information are provided.  Each week also includes an activity that focuses not so much on the composer but on understanding music theory as well.

One of the various music theory activities included in the workbook
The kids did a great job working through their workbook on the various activities that included things such as note recognition, crossword puzzles, and word finds.  Sometimes Alyssa (who has taken music and choir classes for many years in high school) would help the kids with the activities but most of the activities were easy enough for them to do independently.

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
Ashleigh working on a Word Search

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
Garrett doing an activity involving Note and Rest Recognition 

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
Alyssa helps Ashleigh with an Activity

The kids really enjoyed the activities and I was completely amazed at how quickly they picked up music terms such as piano, forte, pianissimo and mezzo forte and also recognize them in various pieces of music.
Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
Both kids working independently 

The final component of this program is the lapbook which complements the various activities in the workbook.  Each composer has their own lapbook which includes easy elements that the kids enjoyed assembling.  Garrett surprised me completely with how he took to creating the lapbook as we had tried lapbooking a couple of years ago and he hated it then.  (Lapbooking is something we will start including more of in the future).   

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
Garrett's completed Schubert Lapbook

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason
The lapbook components aren't just cut and paste but actually contain activities that reinforce what they have learned both in the reading of the biography as well as in the workbook. Some pages in the workbook are also used as components for the lapbook.   For example, when learning about Notes and Rests in the workbook,  a secondary activity in the workbook is used as part of the lapbook.  Other activities in the lapbook add more information to what the kids might have learned about, such as about Typhoid fever.  Still other activities might teach an idea not included in the text/workbook, such as one activity that teaches various names of apples.  The kids really enjoyed all of these activities.  

We ended up learning so much about Franz Schubert over the course of the four weeks that it took for us to work through the workbook and lapbook and the presentation of the information is better than anything I could have pulled together on my own, even had I purchased the Biography book on my own.   From what I can tell, no two composer units follow an identical format and we have already jumped into learning about our next composer, Beethoven.  This program is very well thought out and I was impressed with how many various components went into it.  For example, while our Schubert unit did not include any, other composer units include recipes for bread or porridge while other units include mapping and Geography activities.  A complete Scope and Sequence can be found at the beginning of the workbook which identifies which subjects each composer unit teaches, such as history, Music Styles in American History, Music in Different Cultures, and Instrument Identification.  The curriculum meets and exceeds the national benchmark standards for music appreciation for elementary student at the time of its publication and can be used as a 2 year music curriculum. 

Zeezok publishing, music appreciation, homeschool music program, Charlotte Mason

Zeezok Publishing LLC has plans to introduce "Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades" later in the future, possibly Spring 2017.  This book will cover another 7 composers (Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Foster, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and MacDowell) and will be geared for grades 5 to 8.   

Overall, this is a VERY solid Music Appreciation curriculum and I highly recommend it and I have no doubt that when Book 2 is introduced, I will continue with this curriculum to give the kids a very well rounded Composer education.

For more information about Zeezok Publishing LLC and their Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades curriculum, be sure to visit their website or their social media sites:

Zeezok Publishing LLC was very generous and allowed 60 members of the Review Crew to review this wonderful Music Appreciation curriculum. All seven of the Composers were reviewed. If you would like to learn more about the other composer unit studies, be sure to click the banner below

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

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