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Busy Kids do Music History Review by Hannah Vaughan

Busy Kids do Piano

Busy Kids do Music History is an online course at Busy Kids do Piano. The course consists of seven units that cover western music all the way from antiquity to modern-day. Within each unit are several video lessons, guided listening activities and projects, and end-of-unit quizzes. There is a downloadable student workbook which includes multiple activities and review cards for each unit. The course costs a one-time fee of $47.00, and you have lifetime access to the course. If you are unable to print out the student workbook, you can buy a workbook through Book Patch for $15.00. There are quite a few various craft supplies that need to be either on hand or purchased prior to the course activities to take full advantage of the course, including some smaller musical instruments like tambourines, triangles, or drums. The workbook provides a list of required supplies for each unit lesson so that you can choose whether to incorporate them into the lessons or not and can buy them prior to starting each unit. There is also a parent guide and two bonus lessons, and you have access to a private, members-only Facebook group, along with unlimited support from the course creator, Carly.

I had originally thought that Busy Kids do Music History might make a good elective credit for my son’s high school courses, but the course is geared towards a younger learner. It is intended for elementary and middle school grades and would especially make a fun course for younger ages. It was designed for homeschoolers and is used for online learners and homeschoolers. The parent oversees the progress and grading and decides which activities they want to implement for each child. There is just one account for families to use together. An example question from the Classical Music period is: Describe the “style” of classical music. One of the activities in the student workbook asks the student to listen to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” As they listen, they are supposed to color a picture of how the music makes them feel or what it makes them think about.

Some of the benefits for Busy Kids do Music History are the fact that it offers lifetime access and downloadable workbooks, which makes it perfect for families with multiple children. You can print out each completed unit quiz for a grade or choose to grade activities yourself and keep track of grades. Because there is just one account for families, you can allow each child to complete the activities and watch the videos, then assign grades accordingly—or just use it as a fun weekly activity to complement piano or other instrumental lessons. There are a lot of fun activities for smaller children, like coloring pictures of musical instruments and completing mazes and word searches, which makes it an excellent choice for beginning learners to have a chance to learn musical terms and get excited about different styles of music. Each unit lesson video is short, with most being only a few minutes apiece, so is exactly right for young learners’ attention spans.

I had hoped there would be an automatic grading system for the course, along with complete online tests and quizzes. Most of the progress and grading is left up to the parents, and as a busy homeschooling and working mom, there were too many guided activities to complete outside of the online course, such as hosting a Roman feast or creating a white, powdered wig out of toilet paper rolls. Also, the course material, while nice for a younger, beginning student, is not comprehensive enough for advanced learners or older grades. A lot of the information also seemed to be more about the history of the time period or places instead of the actual “music” history, and much of the information was provided through links to outside sites.

I think this would be a fun course for younger children, but I would not recommend it for advanced learners or older grade levels, and if you are contemplating a course for a high school elective, this will not meet the requirements. However, for parents wanting to provide a fun, online experience that touches on the history of music and the different time periods, or just to use as an accompaniment for a budding musician, Busy Kids do Music History might just be the perfect choice for your family. 

-Product review by Hannah Vaughan, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2019