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Music Appreciation Book I Set Review by Pam Havens

Student Book and Audio Companion CD Set
Patrick Fata
Memoria Press
10901 Shelbyville Road
Louisville, KY 40243

To understand and appreciate classical music is a wonderful gift to give any student, especially those who are being trained with formal lessons. Music Appreciation Book I Set, for $23.90, by Memoria Press is a fantastic supplemental resource to add into any student’s curricula choices. This set includes one music book and two CD’s that accompany each of the twenty-six chapters. Each chapter is written in such a manner as to explain the formalities of music and its evolution over time. No prior musical knowledge is needed, as each concept is introduced when appropriate to the lesson. However, reading music will make the lessons that much easier and the student may be able to play the examples. If the student is unable to read music the musical scores are available on audio files for a listening experience instead. The musical pieces selected for this book are in chronological order, which formulate a better developmental understanding. There are seven test reviews, with answer keys, for comprehension. Each test covers four chapters, with the exception of test seven which covers only two chapters. Each chapter has six or seven sections beginning with listen, a little history, musical concept, about the piece, music history, facts to remember and listen again. This course aims to teach the student notation, rhythm, pitch, form, and melody while building a fuller understanding of the inner workings of the pieces and of music in general.

This product is wonderful to use with single or multiple students in a school or home education setting and will provide various discussions and interactive listening. The goal is to provide the student with an appreciation for music in general, as well as its origins. Recommended for grades three and above, or ages eight and older, this is a classical book that is best used with students who are interested in music already, have some musical understanding, or have a higher order of thinking skills. The audio and visual learner will flourish using this course.

Although it is a great introduction for students who are uncertain of music, I do not recommend this course with students who have very little interest in music or no musical ability at all because this book is highly detailed with musical theory information. The length of time spent on each chapter varies depending on the student.             

This is a very technical book that is infiltrated with historical details. However even my student who lacks some detail orientated skills found this product quite interesting, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the CD’s.

Even though the book and CD are complete in itself, there are two components in my opinion that could be modified. Each chapter is very wordy in length and I believe it would be easier to follow if shortened to a simpler wording. Some students, including my own, have a hard time following text that becomes overly technical with dates, references, and timelines. Adding a more bullet type format would be more beneficial, as it would highlight the importance of that text.

The other component that needs to be adapted is the CD. It is extremely difficult to follow along, as there are no stopping points other than a pause. It does not tell you chapter one along with what section, which made it hard for my student to know exactly which song went with each section.

If you’re looking for a course to introduce your student to a more musical appreciation or understanding than this book set is designed for you, and I do recommend incorporating this product into any classical students’ curriculum.  

-Product review by Pam Havens, Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2018