The books are written with an eye for bringing out the composers' human stories and are also peppered with a sizeable number of references to notable musical works. The photographs and illustrations in multiple styles bring great depth and an extra dash of fun to the storytelling. this series will add fuel to a young reader's fire for music.
I have been a professional violinist and teacher for over 30 years. I perform in the Washington-Idaho Symphony and specialize in the Suzuki method. My studio at the University of Idaho Preparatory Division includes violin and viola students ages 5-18. My career as an author began when I searched the shelves at my local library for books for my students to read. Only a few books about classical music graced the shelves. So I decided to try to do something about the void I noticed. My second book, about a trailblazing woman composer erased in history because of her gender, is forthcoming from Bushel & Peck Books.I wrote...In One Ear and Out the Other: Antonia Brico and her Amazingly Musical LifeByDiane Worthey, Morgana Wallace (illustrator),
The Books are divided into three categories: 1) Books about Composers and/or Compositions, 2) Books about Performers, and 3) Books that Offer a General Introduction to Music and/or Musical Genres. Use the links in the top navigation bar to see the books and reviews.
"This effort is what great picture books are all about. Guthrie's familiar song is teamed with Jakobsen's oil paintings that evoke the 1920s and `30s, yet are still relevant today as, unfortunately, soup kitchens, burned-out lots, and homeless families are still very much a part of the American scene..."
From School Library Journal: (Grade K-6) This effort is what great picture books are all about. Guthrie's familiar song is teamed with Jakobsen's oil paintings that evoke the 1920s and `30s, yet are still relevant today as, unfortunately, soup kitchens, burned-out lots, and homeless families are still very much a part of the American scene. Double-page landscapes reflect the verses of the song and show the varied terrain of the United States. Interspersed between them are labeled vignettes that include song lyrics or quotes from Guthrie in the corners of each page. Children and adults can spend hours poring over these pages and enjoying the sights and shores, cities and towns, urban areas and the unsettled West that bring the song to life. The book ends with a short biography of the songwriter, photos and drawings of him and other folk singers of the era, a tribute by Pete Seeger, and the musical score. This is not just a celebration of Guthrie and his music. It will serve as a vehicle for classroom discussion on the Dust Bowl and the Depression and can also be used as a lead-in to a study of our country and its symbols. A book that's destined to become a favorite in libraries from coast to coast. -Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City
From School Library Journal: (Grade 3-5) Bustard describes Holly's early life, his family's fascination with music, and his path to becoming a recording star. Information on his musical influences, his early bands, and the creation of the Crickets and their success is included. This lively work is written in a folksy vernacular, with plenty of yeehaws, whoo-de-doos, and yeeee-doggies thrown in with colloquial expressions like "knee-high to an armadillo" and "Buddy stuck to that guitar like white on rice." While the enthusiastic text is very casual, a factual afterword presents more details about Holly's life and career. Attractive watercolors contribute to the down-home atmosphere. Well done, but of limited interest to most kids. -Jeffrey A. French, Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, Willowick, OH
From School Library Journal: (Grades 4-8) Orchestra Bob guides readers through a delightful musical journey. The book is divided into two major parts: composers from Vivaldi to Bernstein and their associated musical periods, and the instruments of the orchestra. There are interesting and sometimes humorous bits of information about the men, their music, and corresponding historical events. The last two pages introduce the conductor. Quotations, boxed definitions, and the captions that accompany the colorful photos and spot cartoon drawings enhance the instructive text. In some places, however, the drawings are in stark contrast to the photos and take away from the overall appearance of a page. An accompanying CD provides musical selections for readers to listen to at specific places in the text. These selections are short enough to keep young listeners' attention. Although some well-known figures, such as Handel, Schubert, and Strauss, are missing, this is a fun way to travel through the world of music. -Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE
From School Library Journal: (Pre-School-Grade 3) After singing the praises of an orchestra in Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (S & S, 1995) and a band in Our Marching Band (Putnam, 2001), Moss now extols the joys of music itself. In rhyming text, he explains that music is important because it appears in all aspects of our lives, from the mundane "music in the elevator,/sometimes music on the phone" to the exciting "Brass or strings, when played with brio,/lift my spirits to the sky." Many different forms are mentioned, including orchestral and opera, and several of the terms and names will need some adult explanation. ("Verdi, Humperdinck, Puccini;/opera is such a thrill./Those by Bizet and Rossini please me,/and they always will.") However, the author's passion for his subject is clearly felt and expressed. The illustrations, with their elongated, cartoonlike figures and shapes, are dominated by slightly muted shades of blue, red, green, and peach. The placement of the text on the page often reinforces the mood of the message or words. The names of opera composers appear slightly larger, as if sung loudly toward an audience, and the words describing dance seem to skip along the bottom of the page with the dancing feet. This is a great read-aloud that can be paired with Moss's earlier books or with Karla Kuskin's The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (HarperCollins, 1982). -Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY
There are lot of beautiful books about composers available but I have yet to read or purchase them, so I cannot give an accurate review. But if you are just beginning to fill up your library, I suggest you consider as well some of these titles that are also on my wishlist:
The Story Orchestra series ~ This series of books is a magical way to introduce kids to composers! Each book has a button to push to listen to the music (including opera in some cases) and read the story behind it. It also includes a short biography of each composer. A discussion of the instruments, musical techniques, and glossary of musical terms add to the learning! There are six books in the series:
Little Stories of Great Composers series ~ This book series by Ana Gerhard is a fun way to learn the stories behind the composers. Kids will like the mouse narrator, Minim, and the full color, detailed illustrations in these books. The series includes these books, plus two other music appreciation books by Ana Gerhard:
Orchestra Bob introduces kids to the most powerful works from the greatest composers throughout history. He tells wacky stories about deaf composers and quirky musicians, and explores the inspirations behind monumental pieces. Kids will also learn about each instrument of the orchestra from the cello to the timpani, as well as different musical styles from Baroque to Modern.
"In 2009, a couple bought an old house outside of Chicago. in the attic, they found boxes filled with yellowed sheets of music. Every piece was written by the same woman, Florence Price. 'Who is Florence Price?' they wondered... Florence's mind was filled with music, but she had a big question. She was a girl and her skin was a different color than so many of the composers she knew about. Could she grow up to be a famous composer, too? When Florence was only 11, her first piece was published. Was it possible that Florence's music could change things?"
"We talk about representation in literature all the time," Potts observes. "For kids to be able to become authors and activists in a way, to disrupt the story of the way that classical music is being told. They no longer, as a diverse population, become victims of a largely white society. They control the narrative. They can rewrite it. And this project, in the way it's been received, really shows them that when they speak up, the world is ready to hear them."
Sometimes history can seem dry, especially for younger children. However, all kids love music. And usually stories as well. By using the stories of composers and listening to their music, you can draw children into history easily.
Learning about composers for kids is relatively easy to start! There are 2 main areas to learn about. Their life story and history, and their music itself. The most interesting and comprehensive approach is to combine both areas.
Movies and films bring composers off the page. They are easy to digest, fun learning about composers for kids. These are suggestions on where to start, but always preview before showing to your kids. You know best what is appropriate for them.
Carolyn Waters Broe is an American conductor, author, and professional violist. She has performed with many celebrities. Carolyn Broe is the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Four Seasons Orchestra of Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also the Principal Violist of the Scottsdale Philharmonic. She earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts at Arizona State University. Carolyn has written many successful grants in order to perform educational programs for both young and adult audiences. She has a passion for teaching music at all levels. Carolyn also loves to tell stories about the composers and share her love of classical music. She likes cats, books, games, and flowers. Her inspiration for writing Fifty Famous Composers came from teaching music history classes at a Classiclally based grade school in Phoenix, Arizona. The students needed to write a composer book report and give a presentation in class. Carolyn saw that their list only included male composers. So, as an experiment, she added fifteen female composers to the list. Many of the little girls in the class chose female composers to do their reports. All of the children were inspired and gave amazing speeches about their composers. Carolyn Broe has also taught music appreciation classes at the college level and told stories about the composers at her many live concerts. The other musicians encouraged her to write these stories down and share them with other music lovers. 2b1af7f3a8