Composer Studies for High School Students

Oct 17, 2013

Tips, ideas and resources for conducting composer studies with your high school homeschool student.

Today is Day #4 of my 10-day series, Composer Studies for Young Scholars

We've covered composer studies for young children and older children. It's time to discuss high school kids. How do we do composer studies with them?

With exceptions of course, high school students work more independently. Composer studies are more a matter of what you require from the student than what you do with the student. 

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Ideas for Composer Studies for High School Students

If you've been doing composer studies all along, the high school student has gathered the familiarity with classical music and the knowledge of the composers. At this point, the direction can be changed up.

9th grade year

Opera for Everyone - This is a program which includes CDs and a teacher's manual. It's free to download. The program covers four periods of opera and introduces the student to the combination of music, drama, dance and visual arts. The stories are told in words and then music. This is key to helping the student understand opera. 


Have the student...
  • Write essays about the operas.
  • Compare the positive virtues and negative traits of the characters in the plays.
  • Write reports/narratives of the plays.
  • Continue notebooking.
  • Create notes, summaries, outlines

10th, 11th and 12th grades
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music (Fifth Edition) (Vol. Concise Version) is perfect for upper high school years. Although it's a bit of an investment at first, it does cover 3 years of high school. These CDs cover several musical eras and will familiarize the student with composers not studied in younger years. 

Music of the Great Composers - This is an interesting book. Rather than focus on composers, it focuses on helping the reader deepen his appreciation and enjoyment of classical music. The author helps the student customize his music library to his own tastes and preferences. The book gives insights into instruments, history, compositions musical terms and more. It's written in a style that's easy to read and enjoy. 

The Gift of Music (Expanded and Revised, 3rd Edition): Great Composers and Their Influence - This book consists of 36 biographies of composers. It reads like a novel rather than a book of essays and leaves out much of the jargon included in many books of this nature. It's an easy read for students. Although there is the occasional reference to a composers spiritual beliefs influencing their music, it is not a book about the spiritual lives of the composers. It's a great addition to any homeschool library. The focus is the gift of music these composers left behind for our enjoyment. 

Have the student...

  • Take notes, make outlines, create timelines and write summaries of what he is learning. 
  • Write narratives or essays on the materials read and/or the music listened to that week.
  • Continue creating timelines
  • Create a display of a composer's life and music

Review the Student's Work
At the end of the week, be sure to go over what the student has been doing. Look at his notes, summaries, outlines and other written materials. Did he put together a display of materials? A timeline? Go over it. Discuss it. Have the child express what they're feeling about certain compositions. Ask the child to share their musical collection with you as it's developed. Decide new ideas for projects or hands on activities together. 

What ideas do you have for continuing composer studies into the high school years? 

This series is brought to you in conjunction with iHomeschool Network.
Please visit the other great bloggers who have their own 10-day series to share with you at the Autumn Hopscotch 2013
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Happy Homeschooling!

1 comment

  1. Thanks for your recommendations. I bought Music of the Great Composers and The Gift of Music to use for my high school music class. Wow! I was so impressed with the Music of the Great Composers, it has such great information in it. I picked 7 composers for my daughter to study along with that book for background info. She is so excited about this class! Thanks.


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