I posted last summer that we were going to listen to the Music Masters CDs for our homeschool this year. Music Appreciation was one of our simplest and most enjoyable subjects in first grade. We followed the plan outlined by my dear friend (now Second Son's godmother), and began with Vivaldi and Corelli. We've also listened to Bach, Handel and are now finishing our six weeks with Haydn.
The Music Masters CDs are wonderful! Kansas Dad thinks the sound quality is not tremendous, but I didn't notice a problem in the van. The children know to expect our composer study as we drive to and from town for choir and only complain a little if our audio stories are interrupted midweek. Each CD gives an entertaining and informative biography of the composer interspersed with snippets of compositions followed by a longer composition, usually provided in full. If you can only name one or two pieces by a composer, those are the ones that tend to appear within the biography. I'm delighted my children heard a bit of the story behind "The Messiah." Though the narrator sometimes discusses music theory or development, the focus of the CD is on the story of the composer.
The biographies are appropriate even for young children as they introduce the composers with encouragement to work diligently or rise above struggles just as the composers did. They also each include at least one amusing or particularly memorable event from the composer's life (like an argument that actually became physical in the middle of a performance "to the delight of the audience").
My only regret is that we have only finished four composers so far, rather than the six I had intended. We only listen to our composer CDs in the van as we drive to our choir each week. We did not have choir every week, however, due to snowstorms or Holy Week (for example). (We also missed the first couple of weeks after our old CD player ate part of the CD I tried to play the first week and had to wait until I'd ordered a replacement.) I intend to remedy that problem next year by ensuring we have six full weeks for each composer scheduled, making up a session by listening to the CD on a different trip into town if we must. (I don't think I'd try to listen to them at home; my children just wouldn't pay attention.) We may listen to a couple over the summer (Mozart and Beethoven), so we would "catch up" to start with Berlioz in the fall.
So, how much do they know the composers? I haven't asked First Son to narrate at all, but he has on occasion mentioned a composer. My goal with our composer study is merely to introduce these great composers. I like the CDs and we'll continue with them in the fall but I still don't intend to ask them to narrate. (I think you could ask an older child to narrate from the CDs but the biographies are too long for young children to narrate.)
Music Masters CDs are recommended in many curricula, including Mater Amabilis (the backbone of our homeschool plans) and Mother of Divine Grace, so I didn't discover them by myself. If you are interested, see my post last year for my friend's recommended order for the CDs. If you'd like to purchase the complete set, be sure to check out Adoremus Books. In the past, they've had the best price and you can use their Easter Sale coupon code for 20% off until May 2nd.
I did not receive anything for this review. I purchased the complete set of CDs myself (Vivaldi and Corelli twice). I also do not receive anything if you follow the link to Adoremus Books to purchase the CDs or anything else.