How do I "do" composer studies and folk songs?



A question I see often in Charlotte Mason groups is "how do I do it?" when it comes to the approach of composer study and other branches of music.  I found this text from a book used in the PNEU schools to be very helpful!


I thought as a music educator I would walk you through each step with a specific musical example!

1.  This is all about the concept "FORM."  In modern education, we refer to form as AB or ABA instead of the Roman numerals listed above.  I am so glad that Scholes (the author) emphasized this important musical concept.  In our Charlotte Mason co-op we regularly spend time training our ears to listen for the main theme (or A section) of a piece of music.  In classical instrumental music or in singing folk songs, it is important to understand the form of the song.
Folk song: AB (Jim Along Josie) or Irish Washerwoman
Folk song: ABA (This Train) or Trepak from Nutcracker

2. There are many Charlotte Mason curriculae that help guide you in a set of folk song lists to teach your children!  I suggest the Smithsonian Folkways recordings!

3. The recording I linked above also fulfills this example!  You can find many more CDs of various countries and cultures at Smithsonian Folkways!

4. This is my passion!!! My favorite folk dance resource is the New England Dancing Masters!  You can also watch videos of various folk dances on YouTube!

5. Last year, our co-op did the "Outlandish Knight" as a folk song and had a blast retelling the story to our friends!  For more "folk tales" I love the John Feierabend books here or you can also get a song book of many folk song stories here.

6. The benefit we have now is recorded music is so readily available!  I love that he suggests students play "domestic orchestral instruments!" Anything can be used as a drum and finding different sounds (called "timbre" in music) can make for a really fun activity!  "Unpitched" would be rhythm types of sounds like things used as drums or sticks.  "Pitched" would be the idea of combs (kazoos) or water glasses.  A folk song that comes to mind for a great tune is "Chimes of Dunkirk" which is an AB form song!

7. The internet is so full of wonderful resources to continue learning folk songs!!!  If you have any questions I am happy to help you find more resources to use in your home or co-op!

For more music appreciation activities, you can search my blog for "composer" and I give suggestions for each listening example that will include things like movement and form to help train a child's listening ear!  I hope these ideas helped you today!

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