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Harmony Fine Arts Review by Jessica DeFore

Barbara McCoy
Art and Music Appreciation

As a homeschool parent, I want to expose my children to the wonders of God's world and leave them thirsty for more. Introducing them to art and music seems to be a huge task. What is appropriate for my children throughout their ages and stages? How do I teach multiple ages? I need more instruction to study art and music the way Charlotte Mason proposes. What books do I use? Every book I see seems to be great but that is costly. How can art be integrated into studies effortlessly but still highlight the time period we are studying in history? What about teaching my child to draw? What is the benefit of teaching art and music?

The list goes on and the insecurities abound, especially for a parent that wasn't exposed to music and art in their own educational experience for any standard length of time. I felt these insecurities as I looked through the programs offered for art and music, I had music in middle school and participated in band for a short while but I haven't retained a single thing. I've read Charlotte Mason's thoughts on picture study and composer study but still felt helpless to implement them. Harmony Fine Arts makes it so simple to use Charlotte Mason's ideas and organize it in a classical education style.

Barbara McCoy, an experienced homeschooler, has created a 32 week plan for studying art and music for each grade level from first grade to eighth grade. In the future ninth grade through twelfth will be available as well. Why only 32 weeks? So that you can take a break, have a one-week review period every quarter or start art and music four weeks after you've started all your other subjects. Barbara has created this especially for homeschoolers, and it is a perfect fit for Charlotte Mason or classical homeschoolers. Harmony Fine Arts would be useful in a co-op or classroom setting as well.

Harmony Fine Arts consists of multiple schedules for the study of art and music provided on letter size pages ready to be placed into sheet protectors for ease of use for the parent. Any books, CDs and other items mentioned in the schedule are up to your discretion to buy. Most of the suggested materials can be obtained through libraries. I suggest purchasing books that will be used for more than four weeks due to the fact the library usually checks books out for two weeks and allows at least one renewal.

Harmony Fine Arts includes information for free resources whenever possible and Barbara has a blog ( where she shares what her children are doing and further insights of how to approach nature study, art and music. She is a rare gem among homeschoolers as she not only has done the groundwork with her children but she shares the fruits of their experience in a way that will equip other homeschoolers to reach their goals in art and music.

Grammar and logic years are set up a little different but here's some information about each.

Art in the Grammar stage:
There are three approaches you can chose from for art in the grammar years.

  1. Picture Study - pieces have been chosen that are appropriate and introduce many of history's major artists, there are a total of 32 artists in the Grammar years grades 1-4.
  2. Art Appreciation with great books: "We have chosen the best of the best from the vast world of children's art appreciation books. The plan schedules the pages to be viewed with questions to prompt discussion with your child. There are also short follow-up activities for your student. If you use this option, your student can view great art and have a hands-on activity to connect new ideas to his imagination."
  3. Art appreciation with picture study and coloring books: "This combines picture study and coloring activities for a quick and inexpensive art appreciation course."

Music in the Grammar Stage:
23 Composers are introduced in the grammar years (grades 1-4). There are book suggestions and a listening schedule.

All the options are available in the schedule so you can change tactics at any time, which makes this one of the best art programs out there. It is a tool to align art and history, to expose your children to age appropriate art and information about artists. You can choose to do as much or as little as you desire, the whole program can be used or just bits and pieces. There are 32 weeks planned in each schedule.

Art in the Logic Stage:
Just as in the grammar stage there are three options for art and each has 32 weeks of study.

  1. Picture study, same info as above but art objects and architecture instead of specific artists. 24 artists are introduced in the logic stage (grades 5-8).
  2. Art Appreciation with great books and Dover coloring books: "This option uses art appreciation books with paintings or art objects to view each week with historical coloring books to tie art to the historical time periods for each grade. The 7th grade plan also includes art skills in water coloring and sculpting.
  3. Artistic Pursuits: "This option gives a plan for using Artistic Pursuits books for art appreciation and art activities.

Music Logic Stage: 25 composers with book suggestions, instruments of the orchestra with a listening schedule.

Suggested weekly time:
Grammar- 1 hour per week doing picture study, art appreciation and/or an art activity, 45 minutes per week listening to a composer and/or reading about the composer.

Logic- 1-2 hours/per week doing picture study, art appreciation and/or an art activity depending on the options you choose. One period per week for approximately 45 minutes listening to a composer and/or reading about the composer. You can choose how much or how little you'd like to use in your homeschool or change gears without changing curriculum whenever you prefer!

To me, this makes Harmony Fine Arts well worth the price of the schedules and Im grateful for Barbara McCoys insight to create something that would fit the needs of so many or even those that like to switch approaches in their homeschool for certain subjects without having to endure the cost of that decision.

Product review by Jessica DeFore, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2007