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Discovering Music: 300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture Books, CDs, DVDs Review by Brandy Brockhausen

Carol Reynolds, Ph. D.
Silver Age Music, Inc.
P.O. Box 1684
Bowie, TX 76230

Teaching electives in high school is something that I struggle with. I am not particularly artistic, nor do I have a wealth of knowledge on all sorts of subjects. So, I typically look for programs that can assist me with this task. Discovering Music: 300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture, is a music history program that you could use to fulfill a fine arts credit for high school. Aimed at grades 8-12, the program includes DVDs with 13 hours of material, an accompanying workbook, and a music CD. It comes with everything you need to complete a music program with your child. The hardcopy set costs $179.00, and you can also use the program as an online course for $15.00 per month.

The main meat of the program are the DVDs. They contain lectures presented by the program’s author, Carol Reynolds. She takes you through the history of music, beginning with early music, moving through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, into World War I. The length of each lecture varies from about a half-hour to an hour depending on the lesson. For kids with short attention spans, you can break the longer lectures into two parts, which is what we did. The 17 units take about a week each if you do music every day. The workbook includes activities for each unit, beginning with names of important people and places in the lesson, vocabulary, a list of important dates, and a listening guide which directs you to songs on the CD that go with that unit.

In addition, a list of websites is offered that allow you to explore the topics in the lesson in further depth. The viewing guide section allows your child to take notes as they watch the video, and there are several suggestions for activities and questions you can use for essays. Quizzes for each unit are also included, and the back of the book has an answer key for both the quizzes and the viewing guide. The three CD set that comes with the program has over 50 songs that are a good mix of classical and popular music from the time period being studied.

I was at first a little concerned that the lecture format might be a little too much for my 10th grade son, who is not exactly an auditory learner. However, Ms. Reynolds is very good at presenting the material. She is enthusiastic and animated, speaking in a pleasant tone that is easy to follow. The lectures also include some video interviews with different artists. We did break the longer lectures into two parts, because I know my son would not be able to sit for a 45 minute or longer video, but that worked out fine. I decided to break each unit into two weeks’ worth of lessons, because we do music about three days per week. Generally, we started each unit with him researching the important people and places, discussing the vocabulary, and adding the dates to a timeline we created. Day 2 was spent visiting some of the websites to get more background information. Now, there are a lot of websites included, and it would take way too long to visit all of them, so I usually previewed the sites and choose a handful to use.

My son would complete the viewing guide on his own when he watched the videos, and then I usually chose one or two items from the Putting it Together section for him to research and write an essay on. Finally, at the end of two weeks, he took the quiz. Doing it this way, we will have a full year music program.

Overall, I think my son is really enjoying Discovering Music. He loves music anyway, and while classical may not be his first choice to listen to, he is finding the connections between history and music fascinating. This program does a really good job of tying music to history seamlessly. It is very user-friendly, making it good for a busy homeschool mom. The essay questions are extremely well thought-out, giving your child a good chance to build their research and writing skills. The content is perfect for older students and I feel comfortable giving my son a credit for this course. I would absolutely recommend this if you are looking for a fine arts program for your child.

-Product review by Brandy Brockhausen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016