Category Archives: music

Texas Bucket List – Y: Yellow Rose ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet


Y is a hard letter for Texas. I found a couple of places but they were strange or didn’t really seem to fit the sort of thing I was going for. So, I went for a good old Texas folk song.

I am just going to share a couple of recordings of the song with you. I’ll let you sort our the folk tale from the truth because honestly, I don’t think anyone can sort it out. So, I just teach and enjoy the song as folk music.

Here’s the Yellow Rose of Texas –

The one that made the song famous:


Who doesn’t enjoy an Elvis Presley version of a song?


And a Civil War version (from what I can determine). . .


At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – T: Texas! Musical ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet


Even when I was growing up in NM, I heard about the musical that took place each summer in Canyon, TX, titled TEXAS! It was supposed to be a really fun, outdoor experience. As someone who loves musicals, this has always appealed to me. Yet, I have never gone and not taken my girls yet!

Taking place in the lovely Palo Duro Canyon, this is a singing, dancing, theatrical production of the history of the settlers in the Panhandle of Texas. While it is fictional, it is based on the history of the folks of the area. With all styles of dance and music, costumes, and fireworks, there is something for everyone.

Taking place in an outdoor ampitheater, it features the history of the 1800s in the Texas Panhandle. It was written by Paul Green, a playwright who was brought to the area to interest him in writing it. He became interested and went right to work. The production he began in 1960 is still going strong today.

One of these days, we are going to take a trip to western Texas and the Palo Duro Canyon area so that we can view this wonderful history production with all the theatricals my girls would love.

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Recital (violin) – Blogging Through the Alphabet

R Recital (violin)

A couple of weeks ago, Miss L had her spring recital with her strings class. She has been able to participate in a string class at Baylor. This class has benefitted not only our family (in that the cost is extremely reasonable, even cheap!) but it also benefits the students at Baylor who are learning to teach in classroom settings.

The recital was lovely. She and her class, as well as the two other classes, did a fantastic job. It was lots of fun and it is such a rewarding experience for her to get to show off all of her hard work this year. And it really was.

R Recital Miss L with violin

She started the year (last September) with a little bit of violin knowledge under her beltR Recital program for string project but not much. So, she began in the Bravo class with other beginners. At semester, they determined that she had made so much progress and was playing well enough to jump up a year and join the Encore class. Now that was huge and she had a big learning curve since they all had a year more experience than she did. But she undertook the challenge, practiced daily, and did really well.

The recital was the culmination of the year. We are hoping to return next year for their 3rd year class, though I can’t remember at this point what that class will be called. She still practices (almost) daily and really enjoys playing. We will encourage this for as long as she will pursue it with a heart.

At Home.R Recital

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

SING – Five Minute Friday


Today’s FMF word is SING. Five minutes writing. No editing. Hosted by Kate at Heading Home.
GO –

Sing a song.
Sing out loud.
Sing out strong.
Sing of good things, not bad.
Sing of happy, not sad.

Sing a song.
Make it simple to last your whole life long.
Don’t worry that its not good enough for anyone else to hear.
Just sing.
Sing a song.

This song is what I would begin my kindergarten music classes with at the beginning of every year. (Did you know I used to teach K-5 music? Loved the music part – singing with the kids, playing singing games, playing instruments, musicals, choir. All the fun stuff! Making music all day long was awesome!) I wanted them to learn to just have fun and make music.

I was missing my music teaching days earlier when this song came through my Facebook feed.

Dr. Brumfield was one of my instructors at UNT where I attended to get my Master’s degree and my national Kodaly certification. She is an amazing teacher, composer, researcher, and more. This song is just one example among many of her talents and abilities. And it certainly made me miss my choir students.


Energetic, Precocious and . . . Musical? {a musical review}


If I said Junie, I bet you would follow with B. We all know her, don’t we? And now, she is singing and making us laugh all the more. Junie B. Jones The Musical!

Releasing on Friday, January 13, 2017, this complete cast recording of Junie B. Jones The Musical Cast Album is full to the brim of all that you expect out of this fun, precocious, energetic first grader. But now, it is set to music. The songwriting team of Zina Goldrich & Marcy Heisler have created this toe-tapping entry into the first grade world of Junie B. and her friends. From “Top Secret Personal Beeswax” all the way down to “Writing Down the Story of My Life”, Junie B. is a joy to listen to. You can’t help but smile as you join the first grade classroom and you can’t help but groan as Mr. Scary tries to keep it all together. Friendship angst and dreading the kickball tournament are life-changing ordeals for this spunky first-grader.

Anyone who has ever read one of Barbara Park’s Junie B. books will immediately smile to think of this character come to life and singing. And smile you do – all the way through the approximately 30 minute recording. I was folding clothes, tapping my toes, and grinning while listening to this CD. Such a joy! Listening to Junie B., I enjoy hearing her honesty, her struggles, her hopes and disappointments. All comes through so clearly in this musical production.


About the Songwriting Team:
Marcy Heisler is an author/lyricist. Zina Goldrich is a composer. These two have been working together since 1992, writing, performing and teaching. They have received a number of awards, both together and individually (Fred Ebb Musical Theater Award for Outstanding Songwriting, Richard Rogers New Horizons Award, Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, Kleban Prize for Outstanding Lyrics). Among their many credits you find a music adaptation of Ever After, licensed family musicals Junie B. Jones, Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred), and Dear Edwina. Shall I go on?!? TV/Animation projects have been done for Disney divisions, PBS, Netflix, and others. They have song publications such as The Songs of Goldrich and Heisler and Marcy and Zina: The Album. Both make their homes in New York City.

About the Album:
Junie B. Jones The Musical was originally produced off-Broadway and was adapted from four of Park’s Junie B. Jones books. Park was involved in the adaptation and Heisler and Goldrich use that opportunity to create a rich theatrical production that gets to the heart of who Junie B. is. The Cast Album was recorded in Nashville under the direction of renowned producer Dan Rudin. The album features the voice of Lori Casteel as Junie B. Jones. (Lori has been in the business for over 25 years, working in both recording voices and acting on-stage. She lives in Tennessee.)

Songs on the album/track list:
Top Secret Personal Beeswax
Lucille, Camille, Chenille
You Can Be My Friend
Time To Make a Drawing
You Need Glasses
Show and Tell
Now I See
Lunch Box
Gladys Gutzman, Queen of Snacks
Kickball Tournament
Sheldon Potts’ Halftime Show
When Life Gives You Lemons
Kickball Tournament (Reprise)
When Life Gives You Lemons (Reprise)
Writing Down the Story of My Life


Album Details: Junie B. Jones The Musical Cast Album
For all ages, especially enjoyed by ages 3-9
Label: Next Decade Entertainment, Inc.
Release Date: January 13, 2017
SRP: $9.99 – digital download – available from all digital retailers (iTunes, Amazon, and more) and all streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, and more)
Running Time: 30 minutes


This is sure to be a hit in any home of young children because Junie B. just comes to life, right there wherever you may be listening.

At Home.

Zeezok Music Appreciation ~ a TOS review

When music is just second nature to everyone in your household, a chance to review Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing LLC is something that we get excited about. While there are seven different composers to study, we chose to begin with Schubert. From the biography book to the workbook to the lapbook we completed, it has been filled with bits of information and character study that encourages the continued study of additional composers.

Zeezok logo


Zeezok’s Music Appreciation Book 1 covers seven composers from the years 1685 to 1828. The composers come from the Baroque period through part of the Romantic period. These composers are

  • Bach
  • Handel
  • Haydn
  • Mozart
  • Beethoven
  • Paganini, and
  • Schubert.

complete music appreciation setEach composer’s life, from childhood through death, is covered. Musical training, family life, and some of what is going on in the world makes for a pretty full study of each composer. Add to it the music excerpts included and the lapbook to create and there is a lot of information to cover with each composer. For our study, we received the complete set. This included the biography books for each composer, a student activity book, a set of CDs, and the lapbook CD for printing.

Our family completed the study all together, one student doing the writing in the student activity book where required, taking turns pointing out various items in the biography, and each completing a separate piece of the lapbook. This worked well for us, since some of the activities were of a higher ability level than others. Miss J, age 7, was able to do things within her ability level and Miss E, at age 12, was able to do a lot more and worked pretty hard with the musical notation and theory. Miss L was right in between and enjoyed a number of the writing activities. We were able to use all of the activity suggestions and have multi-leveled discussions. Everyone was included and everyone learned together – something that is a huge bonus for us in curriculum.

Schubert study


The main composer we studied during the review period is Franz Schubert. We read the book Franz Schubert and His Merry Friends out loud. This biography by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher covers the life of Franz Schubert from his birth through most of his adult life. Throughout the biography, there were excerpts of music that related to the story in some way. We listened to those at the end of each chapter, going back and talking about why it related and discussing some of the musical notation that we had covered in the student activity book.

Schubert lapbook

After each chapter, we worked in the student activity book for a bit. We always immediately covered the comprehension questions for the chapter. Then, we would talk about the character qualities from the activity book.  Each one related to a specific occurrence in the biography and had page numbers so we were able to revisit that specific event if we needed. These were really good discussions because both the questions and the character qualities made the girls think.

The activities for each chapter varied quite extensively. One activity was looking a map Austria and then researching more information on the country. Another had us learning about the hackbrett. (This actually led to additional study on this instrument and other closely related instruments. We even pulled out our hammered dulcimer and we learned a bit about playing it.) We studied about the Vienna Boys Choir, though back them it was called The Convict, and talked about a concert we had gone to a couple of years ago when we were able to hear the Vienna Boys Choir notation

One of the largest parts of the study in the Schubert portion of the Music Appreciation book was music theory. This study was done a little bit at a time, covering a bit more with each chapter read. From notation to solfege to dynamics and more, there was a whole lot of musical notation covered. It was done fairly well, in my opinion, with a decent explanation for each part. Notation is hard to cover without the application of it to actual performance. While this didn’t include the performance of it by the students, there was a very good job done of referencing specific examples of the musical excerpts in the book. The girls learned quite a bit through this study. As best I can tell, this is the only composer study in the book that includes musical notation.



In the middle of this study, we were given an opportunity to go hear a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. This opera was given locally but it gave us the opportunity to opera lapbook piecesuse another portion of this curriculum, as well. We did not read the Mozart biography but we did use the Activity book to learn a little bit about him, referencing the character qualities and other tidbits that are there. We also used the lapbook to learn about opera.

There is a small portion of the lapbook for Mozart that discusses opera. We printed out those pieces and, working together, the girls completed those. We talked about the types of opera and some of the terminology that is specific to opera. We also discussed some of Mozart’s most famous operas. This gave us a preliminary introduction to opera and Mozart’s The Magic Flute.


One thing that I would love to see changed is the quality of the recordings. There is a nice variety of samples and excerpts included. However, most if not all of the excerpts that we listened to were done on an electronic device of some sort. While it shows the dynamics and melody, it isn’t very true to form for showing the depth of sound for a symphony or the extensiveness of expression with a piano. More often than not, I found a separate recording of the piece that was being showcased or played it myself on the piano. The music of these composers is so rich, so deep, so emotional that it is a shame to minimize it with electronic recordings that don’t do it justice. Perhaps in the future better recordings can be used. Until then, I will continue to find recordings to supplement our study.

Overall, this is a very good and engaging curriculum to use for music appreciation. Zeezok Publishing LLC has created a product that is able to be used by families and to include multiple age levels with the same study. Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades has allowed us to take a different approach to study Schubert and we plan to study additional composers during the summer months, where we won’t work a diligently on core subjects every single day but still want to continue to feed our brains.

At Home.


If you would like to find out more about other composers in this curriculum or to find out what other homeschooling families thought about Zeezok, please click on the banner below.

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

Crew Disclaimer


5 Days of Tips: Follow that Rabbit Trail

Follow That Rabbit TrailDo you follow rabbit trails easily? Do you know what I mean by rabbit trails? What I mean is when something you are studying creates a secondary area of interest to you or your children. Do you follow that interest and learn more about that?

Yea. We do. And that is why it takes us so long to complete studies sometimes. We have been following a rabbit trail for a couple of days now related to a music study we are doing. We have been studying Schubert from the Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades by Zeezok. (Review is now up. – 5/9/16) It mentioned that he enjoyed playing the hackbrett, or piano. But in our workbook, it was noted that a hackbrett is not actually a piano but a hammered string instrument, similar to a hammered dulcimer.

hammered dulcimer played

We own a hammered dulcimer so the girls asked if we could get it out. So, out it came. We have played a few songs. The girls have played some on it. We have sung along to it and talked about how the notes are produced on it.

hammered dulcimerWe have also done a bit of online research about the hackbrett, finding out how it is different from a hammered dulcimer. What we have found is really interesting.

  • It is a traditional Austrian instrument.
  • Each pitch has 3 or 4 strings.
  • The strings are struck with a small mallet, called a hammer.
  • It is nothing like a piano, except for the fact that a hammer hits a string.

Add in a few random tips like Austria is the country where the Sound Of Music takes place, where it is in relation to Germany and the Netherlands, and other composers who lived there and we had a lot of information flying around as we ran down that rabbit trail.

We have also looked up some links in YouTube of folks playing the hackbrett. These two have been my favorite.

Video 1 – man giving demonstration of hackbrett; lots of technique in his playing

Video 2 – girl playing hackbrett; gives great view of strings and bridges at the beginning

This has been a fun rabbit trail and taught us things we didn’t know.

Don’t be afraid to follow those rabbit trails that present themselves. You might learn something you didn’t know and your children will learn that it is okay to follow those ideas when they pop up. That is how some of the most amazing inventions come about – someone followed an idea.

Here’s to the rabbit trails that come up in your education!

At Home.


Past posts in this series:
Change is Good?
Make Time
Structure vs Flexibility


5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Looking for more great ideas and tips? Check out other Review Crew members who are sharing tips all week long. Today, I encourage you to go visit these friends:
Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Katie @ Katie’s Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom




%d bloggers like this: