Topic | Music composer study for modern times

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  • Wings2fly

    We are doing module 6 for history with 8 weeks of 2 unit studies from the Prairie Primer. So I am pelanning to listen to the 3 Pa’s Fiddle cds for those 8 weeks. This leaves me with 28 weeks for composers. So far I have selected four as follows:

    1. Edward MacDowell with the Opal Wheeler bio., 9 weeks, 3 cds.

    2. John Philip Sousa with Sousa’s America written by his great-grandson, 6 weeks

    I have only 2 cds for him and some songs are duplicates. I am not sure how much band music I can handle, lol.

    3. Scott Joplin with Raggin’ by Mitchell, 6 weeks, 5 cds.

    4. Aaron Copland with bio. by Mike Venezia, 7 weeks. I still need to purchase cds, but it looks like there are many. Recommendations?

    Do I have these in the right chronological order? Any resources I should add?

    I am not familiar with many composers and am learning and enjoying these along with my children. We did Stephen Foster last term. Would we be lacking if we didn’t cover George Gershwin? If he is a “Don’t miss”, how can I work that in?

    Also for Joplin, would the movie, The Sting (1973) Robert Redford rated PG, be appropriate for a 7 yo and 10 yo?

    Rachel White

    I definitely think Gershwin is a no miss. There is a Venezia book on him, but you gotta hear him to love him.

    I think just listening to him in the house and/or in the car would easily work him in; plus you can then watch Porgy and Bess.

    Here’s some resources:

    PBS has his bio on American MAsters.

    I don’t know about The Sting, sorry.


    Copland wrote some really neat piano music – The Cat and The Mouse is one that I’ve performed – it’s really cute and sounds like a cat and mouse on the keyboard.  My CD is of Eric Parkin playing.  It’d be neat if you could find a performance (live or dvd) of the ballets – Appalachian Spring, Rodeo.

    The dates I have for them:

    Sousa- 1854-1932

    MacDowell – 1861-1908

    Joplin – 1869-1917

    Copland – 1900-1990

    I LOVE Gershwin.  Could you maybe just slip Rhapsody in Blue in there somewhere? It’s one of his better known pieces (it’s for piano & orchestra).  Porgy & Bess would be a little much, I’d think for a 7yo & 10yo.  But maybe not. It’s opera. Sort of – it’s in English.  Oh, and An American in Paris has a neat “tin lizzie” type horn sound in it.  That would be fun to listen for.  Gershwin’s dates are 1898-1937.  

    As much as I love Sousa, I had a hard time listening to all the same type of music for weeks on end.  Although, there’s a neat cup game you can play with one of the marches — 

    The second link (google docs) is the written out instructions.  I don’t know if the google docs link will work or not.  If it doesn’t, PM me and I’ll try to figure out how to get it to you.

    I don’t know about the movie — too long since I’ve seen it.



    The Sting is not appropriate, IMO.  We tried to watch it a couple of years ago and turned it off after just a few minutes.  I don’t remember exactly why.  I think it was language.

    Rachel White

    Oh yes, Porgy and Bess probably would be too much for children that young (I didn’t realize) unless they are accustomed to musicals. Just remember it for when they are older.

    Go for the linked Rhapsody in Blue book/cd linked above, instead.


    Fanfare for the Common Man, by Copland — excellent, very easy to listen to.  I have this on several CDs, done by several artists.  The way it was written; as done by the Nuclear Whales (a saxophone group); and I think Canadian Brass might have done it, too.




    I also saw Telemann listed for Modern Times. I’ve never heard of him. Since I am going to work Gershwin in, I hope it’s okay to miss him this year. Thanks for the ballet recommendation and Sousa game, Karen. I will look for those. The kids had enjoyed a dvd of a Rossini opera. I plan to use the Rhapsody in Blue book and PBS bio. you recommended, Rachel. I didn’t think to check PBS. We will wait on The Sting and Porgy & Bess. It was a preview sample of Porgy & Bess that made me think of skipping Gershwin. Thanks for your help.


    1. Sousa, 4 weeks (I am thinking this will be plenty of band music.)

    2. MacDowell, 6 weeks

    3. Joplin, 6 weeks

    4. Gershwin, 6 weeks

    5. Copland, 6 weeks (This can be extended to listening on our break at year-end, if desired.)

    Any more resource recommendations from anyone?

    Rachel White

    Telemann? I thought he was Baroque.

    Sonya Shafer

    I just looked through this music appreciation course, and it has some modern composers listed, along with links to their works on YouTube. The whole course looks like a good potential resource if used in a CM way (with a little tweaking). It’s free on Educents for one more day, I believe. The course is called Beethoven Who?


    Thanks for the resource Sonya!

    Rachel, I was looking at the old curriculum guide where Telemann is recommended for year 6 with history module 6. I see now that the new curriculum guide has him at 1600-1700.

    I feel better about my plans now. Thanks.


    Sonya, THANK YOU SO MUCH! The book is indeed free (for only 17 more hours) and it is a WONDERFUL resource.  This will add greatly to our music study program along with the “Stories of…” cds!Smile

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