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Meet the Composers Review by Ruth Hoskins

Madonna Woods
Davidson Music Inc.
6727 Metcalf
Shawnee Mission, KS 66204

This is a very simple book with an accompanying CD that gently introduces your student to 16 great composers. The book itself seems to be put together with copier paper for the interior pages and color cardstock paper for the cover. Although this is a simply constructed book, the information provided is wonderful.

The introduction page of Meet the Composers explains how classical music is divided into periods. The Baroque, Classical, Bridge, and Romantic periods are briefly explained, and a few composers that fall into each category are highlighted.

Through the pages of Meet the Composers, Ms. Woods examines each composer individually and provides a one-paragraph biographical sketch. After each bio, she includes a short musical piece written by the composer that she has arranged in a very easy five-finger piano position. Someone who has just begun learning musical notes could pick up this book and begin playing the music of some the great composers right away.

Ms. Woods also includes a vocabulary builder page that explains 18 common musical terms--words like Requiem, Sonata, Dirge, Minuet, and Ballad. The very last page has a Certificate of Achievement award that can be filled in once this course is completed.

What really makes Meet the Composers complete is the accompanying CD. The CD is to be used with the book page by page. Here Ms. Woods talks about the composers, plays a very little bit of their work in full arrangement, and then introduces the piece that the student will play. She plays the piece with the student and counts out the beat for them. It's like having a piano teacher in your house.

Although the sound quality of the CD is not great (almost as if she has a tape recorder right next to her as she plays on her piano), her voice is pleasant and excited as she speaks about these composers of old. She tells how many of them wrote music to express their praise to God, and that we should learn to play music so that we too can praise God with it.

Don't expect the CD to give you great music. It will not. Ms. Woods plays just enough to make you want to hear the entire performance. The simple pieces that your child will play are just that, simple. In the end, you and your child should come away from this book more knowledgeable about the composers and their work.

Product review by: Ruth Hoskins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008