Tag Archives: music

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

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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 perform.music 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




The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics -a TOS review

The Nutcracker titleWhat is November and December without The Nutcracker? We have yet another addition to our collection of Nutcracker stories with this new release by Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics brings classical music and stories together in a unique blending of arts. Recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Stephen Simon, we are given a beautiful production of the story of The Nutcracker. Narrated by Jim Weiss, it is just as much fun as his other narration works. We were sent the CD for the purpose of this review but you can also download this production.

This product comes with the CD in a trifold case that has a pocket for the pamphlet that comes with it. The pamphlet contains the scenes of the ballet. There is a short history of ballet and a short history of the harp included. You will find a copy of the musical theme from the overture. With a history of Tchaikovsky and a couple of games, the pamphlet provides enough for a short unit study.CD, inside cover, pamphlet

The music is beautiful and very well performed. It follows the story the way we are used to for the most part, though as with most Nutcracker stories there are some variations. The variations are part of what makes these stories and the ballet music such fun. The narration happens over the music, which I personally did not care for but it does help students to follow along with the story. It also helps the listener to hear some of the musical themes if they are not familiar with The Nutcracker.

This disc is quite different from the others in the Stories In Music series by Maestro Classics. All of the other discs we have enjoyed tell the story and some educational materials are included. It might be a history of the music or the composer. It might be information on the musical themes. Sometimes it is background information on how a story came about. We have loved these parts of the discs. In fact, these are what makes Maestro Classics unique.

The Nutcracker diverges from this format in a major way; all that is on this disc is the music of the ballet. It is only performed once and there is no instruction on music themes or story lines with an opportunity to list. There is no discussion of the composer, the background, or the history. This is really quite disappointing and not at all what we have come to expect from Maestro Classics. I realize that the music for this ballet covers a whole lot more time than some of their others works, but it is a missed opportunity since there are so many rich musical themes in this work.CD cover

The music is beautiful and if you are not familiar with the story of the Nutcracker or the ballet, this disc does help it be a bit more accessible. Perhaps if your family is not in the habit of studying classical music or ballet music, this will help your students. Personally, though, while the disc is very well done, I feel that the other titles in the Maestro Classics Stories in Music line would be better choices. This is disc is missing the educational piece which I have come to expect from Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics is a fantastic company with wonderful products. I wholeheartedly suggest checking out their titles and using them to help bring the stories and music to your children. And don’t forget to visit their website. They have created curriculum guides to go along with most, if not all, of their titles. They have the one for The Nutcracker up. It has links to video, audio, and other articles and games. It includes ballet, history, geography, math, science, and language arts. This curriculum guide is going to make for a wonderful unit when we study The Nutcracker as a unit in a few weeks.

At Home.


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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaestroClassics
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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/maestroclassics/
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Read more reviews on The Nutcracker and on Peter and The Wolf from the Review Crew.

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Will You Not Tell It Today?

Will You Not Tell It TodayToday’s sermon by Bobby Wheat brought this song to mind. Am I doing everything I can to share the good news? Have I shared my hope? Have I shared the way to share salvation with those around me? Made me think about a quote from the book Through the Eyes of a Lion – “If you have breath in your lungs, you have a microphone in your hands.” Have I been using my microphone?

Jesus give me hope and help every single day. We have faced much uncertainty in our lives but we know that God has a plan much bigger than we can ever imagine. We pray each day that our circumstances, abilities, and resources will be used by God to share His love with others.

I want everyone to have the same salvation that I do. This is what God tells us we need to know and do. It is found in the Bible. We need to hear His word (Romans 10:17); believe in Him and believe that Jesus is His son who came to earth to die on the cross, taking our sins with him, was buried, rose again on the third day, and ascended to heaven (Matthew 16:16, John 8:24, Mark 16:16); repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31, Luke 24:47); confess our sins before others (Matthew 10:32-33, Romans 10:8-10); and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of our sins (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16).

So, this song has been in my head for a couple of hours now. It is one I grew up with and like a lot. The challenge in it is straightforward.

If The Name of the Savior (Will You Not Tell It Today?)

Words: Jessie Brown Pounts (1887)
Music: James H. Fillmore (1887)

1. If the name of the Savior is precious to you,
If His care has been constant and tender and true,
If the light of His presence has brightened your way,
O will you not tell of your gladness today?

O will you not tell it today?
(O will you not, will you not tell it today?)
Will you not tell it today?
(Will you not, will you not tell it today?)
If the light of His presence has brightened your way,
O will you not tell it today?

2. If your faith in the Savior has bro’t its reward,
If a strength you have found in the strength of your Lord,
If the hope of a rest in His palace is sweet,
O will you not, brother, the story repeat?

3. If the souls all around you are living in sin,
If the Master has told you to bid them come in,
If the sweet invitation they never have heard,
O will you not tell them the cheer-bringing word?


At Home.

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