“Many great men have put their beautiful thoughts, not into books, or pictures, or buildings, but into musical score, to be sung with the voice or played on instruments, and so full are these musical compositions of the minds of their makers, that people who care for music can always tell who has composed the music they hear, even if they have never heard the particular movement before. Thus, in a manner, the composer speaks to them, and they are perfectly happy in listening to what he has to say.”
Composer study is not merely memorizing birth/death dates, place of birth or names of songs written. It is learning about them as a person and creating a connection to them by listening to their masterpieces. I love Ambleside Online’s Composer Schedule because they’ve already chosen the composer and favorite selections to listen to. We have met so many composers I would otherwise have passed over. Most of these can be found on youtube, I like to create a playlist of songs and listen to them each day during lunchtime.
We really love Classical Kids, they have audio files you can download from Amazon and great little story series about composers such as Beethoven, Vivaldi and Handel. My kids love to hear the stories over and over. Another fabulous resource is Maestro Classics, they really help the music come alive, Peter and the Wolf is our favorite!
Another fun resource for learning more about the composer are the book series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers by Mike Venezia (he also has a great selection of Artist biographies). And last, but certainly not least, watching musical performances! Many of them can be found on youtube or iTunes. My children particularly love the Met production of The Magic Flute.
We had the chance to visit Salzburg a few times and my kids loved visiting the home of Mozart and listening to his music. They were also excited to listen to Classical Kids Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery and then visit the canals of Venice. They have made connections with these different composers and it is exciting to them when they hear a piece and can recognize it.