Bernstein, Bizet, Bax – ABCs of composers

B is one of those letters that I had to make choices for. So many interesting composers to choose from.

Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein is known for a wide variety of musical styles in his composing but he is also known as a master conductor, a philanthropist, a pianist, a music educator, and more. I was able to play in the pit orchestra while in college for a production of his West Side Story musical. Such a fun and challenging piece to play. It was a great experience. This is a musical that our family enjoys but it was one we waited a bit to show the girls. It has some great musical complexity and variety, which is often evident in Bernstein’s music.

Bernstein’s family lived in the northeast. His family was not particularly musical but when the family was given a piano, Bernstein taught himself to play. He was 10. From there, his love and learning in music grew quickly. He attended university and studied music. When he was just 25 years old, he was made assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He spent much time traveling to conduct orchestras around the world.

He wrote pieces such as the operetta Candide, based on a libretto (lyrics) from Voltaire. He wrote symphonies, including Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah, in 1943 (some place this in 1942 and others in 1944). His symphonies were influenced by his Jewish heritage. He also worked with Jerome Robbins to create not only West Side Story but some ballets as well. His composing was prolific.

Bernstein was an advocate for American composers. He sought to help other composers, such as Copeland and Ives.

Probably one of the most important works he did was to embrace the Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic. These were live but also broadcast on television. This brought music to children and into homes, making it fun and accessible for everyone. Here is a sample of one of the Young People’s Concerts, introduced by Whoopi Goldberg.

Georges Bizet

This may be one you think you don’t recognize but I’ll bet you do. Take a listen to this piece.

This is Farandole from L’Arlésienne. This was dramatic music for a play. Very popular then and still well known today. I’ll bet you hummed along. 🙂

What about this piece?

This is the Overture to the opera Carmen, written by Bizet in 1875. It opened in Paris to terrible reviews. It was too real for too many of the critics. However, it was well accepted before too long. However, Bizet never knew it because he died shortly after the opening of the opera.

Bizet was another whose family encouraged him to pursue his musical ability. So much so that his family is said to have hidden his books so he would work more on music and less on reading stories. His musical ability brought some fabulous melodies to life for us.

Arnold Bax

These are two of my favorites to listen to and/or play from the letter B. I also looked at Bax. Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, knighted in 1937, was a composer of symphonies but also an author, playwright, and poet. He was highly influenced by the sights, sounds, and culture of Ireland. The music of Russia and the music of English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams.

I didn’t know anything about this composer until my husband and I were putting the list of composers together to study. He had recently comes across a number of CDs of Bax’s music in the racks of Half Price Books, his favorite place to search out new music to explore. Bax’s music falls into the late Romantic/early 20th century realm. It is described as Romantic, for the most part. My husband really enjoyed the music and so now I am exploring this composer a bit, too. Here is a piece of his.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B –

Leroy Anderson – ABCs of composers

Quality music for me can come either from something I like to listen to, something that is interesting and unique, or something that I enjoy(ed) playing in band and orchestra. My ABC list is going to be some of the composers that I enjoy.

Leroy Anderson

Most band musicians know him as the composer of Sleigh Ride. It is played at the close of lots of holiday concerts. It is a fun piece to hear.

Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) was a prolific composer. He was born in Cambridge, MA, to Swedish immigrants who came to the US as children. They were a musical family and Leroy started piano lessons at age 5. In high school, he played the trombone in the band and joined the mandolin club. He was asked to learn to play double bass, according to one story, which he did in a weekend. He played it so well after practicing for the weekend that one would have thought he had practiced all year.

He was so astute musically that he was asked to compose a song for the graduating class in 1923, again in 1924, and for his own graduation in 1925. He also conducted the orchestra for these. After graduating, Anderson attended Harvard. He earned his B.A. and his M.A. in music. He continued his studies at Harvard to get a Ph.D. in linguistics. He was a master at languages, eventually learning 9 different languages.

From Harvard, Anderson’s abilities and activities grew. He was a gifted composer but he was also a gifted conductor. Both of these are seen when you look at his list of associations he was a part of through the years.

Whether you enjoy band music, orchestra music, vocal pieces, or individual instrument pieces, there is something that Anderson created that you will enjoy.

Websites to view more information: – official biography page – PBS biography page for the special on Leroy Anderson – NPR composer page – A life in pictures

Music Pieces:

The Typewriter

The Syncopated Clock

A CD sitting on our shelf is titled Erich Kunzel Rochester Pops ‎– Syncopated Clock And Other Favorites By Leroy Anderson. It is a great introduction to Leroy Anderson and has lots of fun, instrumental music.

Lori, At Home.

Visit the other participants in this round of ABC blogging through the linky at

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

AIM from Math-U-See ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Our 6th grader enjoys math but has struggled with the multiplication facts. I felt fairly confident she understood the concept, since she was able to show that to me with manipulatives when she was 4, but she still counted a good number of the facts on her fingers. Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Multiplication with a Bridge to Division is a product from Math-U-See that is designed for students age 10 and up who struggle with multiplication. The struggle can be in the concept or it could be in just some of the memorization. This program helps you find out where the struggle is and gives specific teaching techniques and learning activities to help combat those struggles.

In more formal language, this is considered an intervention program and is designed for students who are struggling that you don’t expect to be doing so. It is instructor guided, meaning it is teacher prepped and teacher guided. The teacher is a part of every bit of this program. AIM for Multiplication comes with everything needed to teach the program. It includes:

  • AIM Multiplication Resource Guide
  • Math-U-See Integer Blocks (amount needed for these lessons)
  • Math Fact Strategy Posters
  • Fact Check Cards
  • Code for online access to the Digital Pack (required internet access)

I was not concerned about Miss J not having all of the facts memorized but we have seen how it is affecting her a small bit as she works on her math program. Mastering these would help her math be more efficient and enjoyable. The program is designed to work with the individual student where that student is and mastering, truly mastering, the facts before moving on. Thus, the 10 lessons may take a few days to a few month, depending on your student’s mastery.

There are 10 lessons for addressing the 2s to 10s and two addition lessons to teach the relationship of multiplication to division (the bridge to division part). We are in lesson 8. We spent about 10-15 minutes a day on the lessons while she continues to use her regular math curriculum. The program combines a hands-on component, a visual component, and an auditory component in the teaching of each fact family. From there, the program has teaching techniques to help the student “fade” the hands-on component into a mastery recall of 3 seconds or less. All of these techniques and lessons are shown step by step in the online Digital Pack and in the Resource Guide.

Each fact family lesson has four parts – A through D. A is the direct teaching with the hands-on component. B is applying the ideas to word problems to really understand the learning. C is working on the memory. D is fading to total recall. You can work on each of these steps as many times as needed before moving on to the next one. It is recommended to not work on these for more than 15 minutes at a time and have a break of at least 2 hours in between sessions.

Included with AIM are several activities that can be used with any of the fact families for practice. Miss J’s favorite of these is rock, paper, scissors. (She wins most of the time!) There are online manipulatives and activities that we have not explored as much since Miss J is a hands-on learner. They are available, as well as the practice activities, in the Digital Pack.

As each fact family is learned, Miss J is coloring those facts on a chart. This is a visual representation of what she has done.

I have been pleased with the simplicity of the program combined with the progress I have seen. After we finish the lessons, we will retake the facts test to see how Miss J does. We did a pre-assessment so we have something to compare it to. I cannot wait to see her improvement. After we get through the bridge to division, we will also use some of the printable worksheets to help her continue to keep those facts solidly in her mind.

If you have a struggling student, Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Multiplication with a Bridge to Division is something I would recommend. You can also visit the Homeschool Review Crew site to read about other families’ experiences using AIM for Multiplication from Math-U-See.

Lori, At Home.


For some Spring Break is here. For others, it was a month ago. We fall into the later category. We took our Spring Break at the beginning of March, when the local schools were on break. We have started following the local school calendar, for the biggest part of the year, since the dance studio schedule follows that. Also, the girls get so busy in the summer with trips and camps that we need that time off for those. I do still count them toward school but at the high school level, they don’t often correspond to a course credit.

Spring Break also means a variety of things for people, especially in the current climate with so much shut down or functioning differently. We just took the time off from regular school. Guess what, though. That doesn’t mean learning and school coursework didn’t happen. This is true because I have two high school students who were very interested in keeping up with things or working on projects that needed their attention. Having Spring Break meant they had some extra, undedicated time to spend on it. Debate and artwork for the Lads to Leaders entries got extra attention this week.

My middle school student spent some time on artwork but she spent a good deal of the week wanting to play games. So we played quite a few games during Spring Break. Some of our favorites can be found in this post from a couple of months ago about games for middle and high school. A couple of other posts about games that you might be interested in include 10 Wonderful Word Games and Game Ideas.

Spring Break has lots of options and lots of way to spend it. How did you spend yours? Or maybe you are Spring Breaking now, so what are you up to?

Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the challenge at Homeschool Review Crew

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

New Series of ABC Posts Coming

Next week will be the start of a new series of ABC posts. Come join in as we share something new each week corresponding to a letter of the alphabet.

I am still debating what my theme is going to be. Part of me wants to do a Bible based post. Another part of me wants to do a music related series. Who knows – maybe I’ll do two different posts each week since I am having a hard time deciding.

There are going to be a number of different themes so please do drop by each week and then hop over to the co-hosts and the link up to see what is being shared by all the bloggers.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

See you next week for the ABC post start.

Lori, At Home.

Online Book Club – March Wrap-up

March means Irish and green and fresh and new for me. I enjoyed rereading a novel about an ancestor from my past. Honor O’Flynn: a search for the True Will of God, by James P Bailey, is the story of Honor and how she came to be in America. I had forgotten a good bit of the story line so it was good to read it again.

In the book, Honor was kidnapped off the coast of Ireland when she was a young teen. During the horrific days that followed in the hollows of a nasty ship, she is friended by a kind woman and a teenage boy. The woman sold herself as an indentured servant so she could provide for her children, hoping to bring them to America before long. The boy came to make a better life than he could have had in England. Honor was going to be sold as a “tobacco wife” to the highest bidder. These friends helped her more than she could imagine.

Honor had thought she was meant to serve God as a nun in her hometown teaching children. This new turn of events had her perplexed and she was seeking to see God in her new circumstances. She learns that things are not always what we plan and that God can be served where you are.

Honor does marry, willingly, William Logsdon and goes on to live a long life in America. These two are actually in our family line, though this is a novel. It was unclear by reading the notes in the book how much of this is created and how much is based on fact. It is a fun read, nonetheless, and is a good story, indicative of the times.

I didn’t search for any other books for the theme this month.

Please visit the other participants to see what they read this month. There has been a variety of books this month.
Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Lori, At Home.

Easter With Older Children

Easter often means cute dresses, egg hunts, and bunny crafts. But when your children get older, that changes. It also looks different when you celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ all the time, not just at what the world has named Easter. Christ’s church celebrates Christ all the time, not just for this one week of the year, and that is what makes Easter so different for us. We spend this time in a special convention with other believers the world over celebrating the work our children have done all year long serving the Lord. This weekend is the Lads to Leaders Annual Convention!

Lads to Leaders is an organization that started some 50 years ago and is dedicated to helping the young men and women of the Lord’s church become his servants, his hands and feet, here on earth. It helps the young men and women find their areas of interest, talent, and growth. Whether it be service, leading songs, reading scripture, teaching, helping, media, or any number of other areas, or all of the areas, the students grow in their abilities to serve. This year, our girls have grown through teaching, serving others, leading songs, reading scripture, studying the Bible for Bible Bowl (Hebrews), studying for the Pearls test (topic: Better Than, actually that’s the whole year’s topic), making power points to be used by teachers, writing blog posts, working on puppet scripts, studying the debate topic (baptism), creating artwork and photos, and so much more. I am certain I have missed some things the girls have worked on. And it is all dedicated to growing in God, knowing God and His will better, and being more dedicated to serving Him.

Here are two of the things the girls did this year – Blog post 1 and Blog post 2. Since I don’t know if they have been finalized in the judging yet, I am not attaching any names to them still. 🙂

Here is post I wrote a while back about what Lads to Leaders is and what the girls worked on that year.

As everyone remembers, last year (2020), Easter looked quite different. Here’s what I wrote about our quarantine Easter.

And here is a recap of our Easter from 2019, complete with Lads to Leaders convention and our own Easter celebration after that.

This weekend, while many are doing egg hunts or have spent the week making palm fronds, we have been and will be focusing on Bible, songs, debate, art work, media presentations, and so much more that directly impacts the Lord’s church. We are blessed to have such a strong church to be a part of and to spend the weekend with so many others who are dedicated to Christ.

Our prayer this week is that you are able to spend your time in something strong and meaningful that strengthens your faith and leads you into a closer relationship with God, through Jesus.

Lori, At Home.

Linking up at the Homeschool Review Crew for the weekly challenge.

I Triumphed

Do you ever look at something and see “Triumph!” written all over it? I don’t mean literally, but in whatever it is you are viewing, you see that you overcame something? You triumphed? That is what this pile of clean dishes is to me. A small moment of triumph.

We were out running errands for a big part of the day and only headed home at dinner time, knowing it was going to be a time crunch to make dinner and get to church. I was so tempted to grab some fast food for the girls. It would be “easy” and I was tired so it made sense, right? I talked myself into and out of stopping several times on the drive.

I fought that temptation and drove home. There, I grabbed the frozen ground turkey that was already cooked, some crushed tomatoes, some frozen beans, and spices. And I made chili. And I had it ready in just a bit longer than we would have been sitting in the drive thru for that fast food. Yes, I still had to clean up dishes, but my girls and I ate a healthy, yummy meal that was better for us in all aspects than grabbing that fried chicken or burger. My girls all enjoyed it, complimented, and I got to spend time with Miss J in the kitchen making it because she came and helped me. She learned more about making and spicing chili.

And the follow up win? I had dinner for tonight, only needing to make rice. I put the rice and some chili in tortillas to make burritos to send with the older two girls to eat during the break in dance classes. My girl at home with me will put hers in the air fryer. (She loves air frying burritos!)

What helped me with this triumph were several things –
1) We determined long ago that we would not eat out all that often. We could allocate our money that way but we have made a conscious decision to not do it very much.
2) We are determined to help our girls eat as healthy as possible. Yes, one meal out is not that big a deal but choosing to eat at home, with a home cooked meal, is just another step in that process.
3) We want to set good examples in all things for our daughters. Last night, good stewardship of the things God has given us looked like choosing to drive on home and cook the meal, as simple as it was, and clean up the dishes. It also shows the girls service, even when tired and grumpy.
4) We also had plenty of time at home in which to relax and get ready for mid-week worship instead of rushing straight there from a restaurant or having a fast turn around at home after taking the food home to eat. Being ready and focused for worship is important.

So when you are feeling down, look around you. What can you see that you have accomplished? Did you read to that child or snuggle? Did you read your Bible or pray? Did you serve your family by doing some cleaning or cooking or yardwork that needed done? Make that your picture of triumph for today. And thank God.

Lori, At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Round Up for more great posts to read.

Scripture Writing

I stumbled upon a scripture writing community and joined on a whim. I am so glad I did. I am not staying on schedule perfectly but who cares? I am learning soooooo much! I have never done a sustained study like this, every day. It has been challenging, eye-opening, and life changing. And I love it.

The one I am part of is writing the book of Acts right now. We just hit chapter 9 and Saul’s conversion. We write about 4 verses each day. I have a composition book that never got used in our homeschool that I do all my daily writing and study notes in. I have a plain black ink pen that I like how it writes to write the verses of scripture. And then I have a set of 5 gel colored pens that I use to make study notes and comments with. I strive to use each color every day, thus finding 5 different aspects of the passage to focus on.

The ladies in the group are just amazing. They are true mentors in the word, and ooze love for others in every comment and answer. I have asked some questions, truly wanting to know but sort of thinking someone would answer that I should know it already, but they don’t. They always respond and they always respond with great information and helpful, loving comments. I learn so much through these mentors. I wish I knew them all in person and could hug their necks to say thank you. And we are only in March! What all are they going to bless me with by December?

Today’s lesson – I’m a couple of days behind but catching up! Spring break threw me off.

This has challenged me to keep up or make up what I miss. It has challenged me to dig deeper into word meanings. It has challenged me to connect scriptures together across the whole of the Bible. It has challenged me to think and focus and study within God’s bounds on it all. It is a great challenge.

This is a year long project and I am blessed by it. I highly encourage everyone to write the scriptures. Bit by bit, you learn more and more. And are blessed by a deeper understanding of God, His word, and how to live your life.

Lori, At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Round Up for more wonderful material to read.

March Online Book Club

The theme this month is St. Patrick’s Day. Honestly, with older kids, this is a harder theme for me. When they were younger, I would have just grabbed a bunch of books. I mean, just look at what we had in our March book basket a couple of years ago. Now, I’m. thinking Irish and Ireland. But I can’t find anything here at the house. How do I have this hole in my book collection?

I have one book in mind but I can’t think of the title and I can’t find it in my Kindle books, though I feel certain I bought it. It is the story of a family member who was kidnapped on the coast of Ireland and brought to America to be sold to be someone’s wife. We are unsure about how much of it is accurate, though we know this girls existed and is in our family line. (My mom found the title of the book for me and I do have it on my Kindle, though I don’t know why I couldn’t find it! It is called Honor O’Flynn: a search for the True Will of God.)

Do you have any suggestions for books related to St. Patrick’s Day or anything Ireland, Irish, or related? I need some ideas! Maybe some travel books. I enjoy those.

Check out what others are planning for the month.
Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Lori, At Home.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: