Monday, November 22, 2010

TOS Review: A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

Bright Ideas Press may be best known for the Mystery of History books (which we use and love) or the Illuminations course.  We got a chance to try out A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers, which is a full 32-week course exploring the different composers and different eras of music.

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers is available as either a CD-Rom book for $29.95 or as a Printed Book for $34.95.

Here's what the Bright Ideas Press website has to say about the course:
Why take the time to “Crack the Code” of Classical Music?
  • Music is from the Lord. He created it, and He created us with the ability to both make and appreciate music.
  • Classical music is uniquely part of our Western civilization.
  • Research suggests that both listening to and playing classical music aids brain development.
  • Even rudimentary exposure increases one’s level of enjoyment and understanding.
This course provides a close-up look at famous composers, their music, and their times, with special attention to character traits and Christian testimony (or lack thereof). Even the musically challenged will enjoy this course! It’s perfect for grades 4-8 but is easily adaptable for younger and older students. Minimal teacher prep will return maximum enjoyment!

Here is what is included:
  • 32 Weekly Lessons
  • 26 Bios of Famous Composers
  • 6 Eras of Music Explained
  • Easy-to-Use Comparative Timeline
  • Easy-to-Use Maps
  • Composer Info-Cards & Game Directions
  • Note-taking Pages
  • Quizzes
  • Answer Keys
  • Listening Suggestions
  • Intricate Coloring Pages
  • Resource Books
What we thought:

I grew up with a very strong classical music background.  Both of my parents have a Master's Degree in music, and by the time we could read and write, all five of my siblings and myself could play an instrument.  I suppose you could say we grew up in a classical music immersion program.

Given that, the 32-week study seemed sparse to me.  While the website says "this course provides a close-up look..." I'd say that this course provides an overview.  I was surprised that much of the personal spiritual lives of the composers was neglected in the stories provided.  What was mentioned was very dry (in comparison to many of the books on composers we had growing up) - just the basic history of each composer including their spiritual beliefs.  Additionally, I was surprised that for a full course, it was up to the teacher to find the music that went with each lesson (though many suggestions and links were provided in the appendix).

Overall, this course is a good introduction to classical music for the 4th-8th grader who has had no previous musical education.  It's a good starting point for doing an in-depth study of music, and with some time and effort on the part of the teacher to research further, it could be expanded to a more comprehensive study.

Want to know what other Crew members had to say about this and other Bright Ideas Press curriculum?  Check out their reviews here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary CD-Rom version of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.


  1. I agree. It is a good overview book. I reviewed this last year and find myself using it again this year. I really like how it's short and sweet and gives enough information to make the child familiar with the composer. It allows you to then dig deeper as one can. Overall this is a favorite of mine.

  2. Sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing.