School during breakfast, Part 4: Classical music

To review, here's what we do as part of our school time over breakfast:

Mon | Hymn practice
Tues | Art: Picture Study
Wed | Poetry
Thurs | Habits/Manners
Fri | Classical music
Sat | Silly songs/camp songs/choruses

I'm going to wrap up the final two today.

On Friday we have Classical music. This is new to us this year, and this is what we've done.

I purchased Stories of the Great Composers, which is a book/cd set, and- over twelve (short) units, covers twelve composers. Each unit has a picture of the composer with a short biography, a story based on fact about an event in the composer's life, a list of three of that composer's important compositions, and a word search or matching game to review the information learned in that unit.

As we move to our after-breakfast chores, I pop in the CD and we listen to one track while we clean up. We make comments about it as we listen, and then when that track is done, I tell them who we just listened to, and what the name of that particular composition is. I often write the name of the composer on the board and we practice saying it a few times together. Sometimes I read the short bio.

The following week we review the previous weeks composer by listening to a snippet of his work. And then I introduce the next composer.

We're about halfway through the book, now- so for the past few weeks I began by playing snippets of compositions we've previously heard and quizzing the kids: "Who can tell me who this is?"

I admit that I was surprised at how much our children love listening to classical music. They genuinely look forward to it, and enjoy listening, and they really have developed an ear for each composer's sound. They all have their favorites, and it has been really fun for all of us.

My favorite memory of our study so far is this one:

One of the things we learned about Franz Joseph Haydn in regards to his Symphony No. 94 in G Major, "The Surprise":

Hadyn had noticed that the London audiences "slept peacefully during the slow movements" of his symphonies. To correct this situation Hadyn wrote this symphony, which became very popular. There is a quiet section of the slow movement, and then, suddenly, the full orchestra with all the big drums plays a very loud chord. All those who were sleeping awakened with a jerk! Surprise!

[Excerpted from the book Stories of the Great Composers]

We had a grand time imagining all these proper gentlemen and ladies sitting in the symphony and nodding off only to be suddenly startled awake! So while we listened to Hadyn's composition I had the kids break from their chores and lie down on the kitchen floor, pretending to be asleep. Then when the music got louder they all pretended to wake suddenly, then doze off again as the music quieted down. We had such fun listening to "The Surprise" and Hadyn happens to be one of our favorites because of it. (Don't you agree he had a fine sense of humor?)

I'm not really sure where to go from here in our "study" of classical music- once we've finished the book, I mean. I think I'll start purchasing songs or CDs [or, more likely: checking them out at the library] of the artists we've already studied and become familiar with more of their compositions. I'd like all of us to develop an ear for each composer, based on a larger body of their work, as opposed to the one song we're getting in the CD that accompanies the book.

I'd love to hear ideas others of you have on this topic. What have you done?

On Saturdays I let the kids choose what they'd like to sing. Usually they're songs with motions and lots of laughter.

And that's it for breakfast at the table.

In looking back over the last several posts, it seems like we do a lot at the table. But remember: we don't do all of these things every day. We do them only once a week. Daily we do Bible reading and memory verses. And then we rotate in our other memory work each day along with the things I've been posting about.

So, our at-the-breakfast-table work looks like this for the week:

Mon | Bible, Memory verses, Old Testament books of the Bible, Hymn Practice
Tues | Bible, Memory verses, Ten Commandments, Picture Study
Wed | Bible, Memory verses, New Testament books of the Bible, Poetry
Thurs | Bible, Memory verses, Landmark cards, Habits/manners
Fri | Bible, Memory verses, President cards, Classical music
Sat | Bible, Memory verses, Rules/Manners for Gentlemen/Ladies, Silly songs

See? Really doable!

There's still lots to cover once we move away from the breakfast table. If you're not all positively bored by now, I'll post more about our other subjects as time allows over the next couple of weeks.


  1. I have enjoyed following along, you have given me some great ideas. Thanks!

  2. I've REALLY enjoyed this series- particularly your post on Picture Studies. I've wanted to do this since reading Charlotte Mason but haven't been quite sure how to incorporate it- you've given me some great ideas!

  3. Nope not bored :o)

    I enjoy reading what others do...sparks ideas. I might get the Compser book. Journey takes Music for Yound Children and gets some of thst but it would be good for Ike too.
    Just today we put on classical music, (it's one of my favorites, I often blog and write to really loud classical)and moved to the music. I asked questions about how it made them feel, how did their body want to move to the music etc. It was fun and we all did different stuff. Well, Eli bounced and clapped for everything but hey give him time.

    The Nutcracker is great music for something like this.

  4. i haven't nodded off even once!!!

    (that's my silly way of telling you that this is FAR from boring!)

    do.keep.sharing. :)

  5. Hi Stacy, what a fun music curriculum! I'm a friend of Rebecca (and Bob), and I play the violin. Beethoven's "Spring" sonata, Op. 24 has a fun movement that is written so that the violin is always trying to catch up to the piano. It's a just a beat or two behind and I used to giggle while trying to rehearse it for a recital. :) If you want to listen, it's the 3rd movement (Scherzo).

    I've been 'lurking' for a while, enjoying your stories of adoption and home life! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Another "not at all bored" here, Stacy! You're helping me to put meat on the bones of some vague notions I've had... some of the things you are doing are still a year or two in the future for us, but I'll be returning to these posts then! Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Count me NOT positively bored. ;) I'd love to hear more! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you for assuring me that I'm not boring you! :)

    Sandi- Wow. Sounds like you're way ahead of us in this subject!

    Stacey- (((thank you))) :)

    Ells- Yay! Good to "meet" you, Ells! I'm glad you delurked. And thank you so much for sharing your musical expertise. I can't wait to track down the piece you suggested! :)

    Blessings to each of you...


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.