Sunday, September 30, 2012

Music Together - Bringing Harmony Home!

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I remember when I was in elementary school. I loved the music teacher that would come once a week to do music with us. Miss Owens was awesome. She would sit in front of the room playing a little portable keyboard and we would sit at our seats with our music books. I really liked those music books. They had songs in them of all different musical forms. There were songs from our music heritage. There were songs from other countries. There were songs with different rhythms and beats. That firm musical foundation from those early years in school were what drove me to excel in music in high school and college. Music opened many doors for me and allowed me to do many things (including tour Europe) which I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise and I owe it all to the great musical training that began with Miss Owens.

I am very blessed to have had a great musical background and I have used it with my kids. I have tried to introduce my kids to music from the day they were born, and even before that while they were still in the womb. I would sing songs to them when they were just babies and would tap out the beat softly on their backs to sooth them to sleep. As they grew older, I would make up songs about them and I still, heaven forbid, sing songs from back in my day. I try to sing and make up songs from different genres and with different beats in order to give them a good musical background.

I was blessed with a good musical background to pass on and give my children, prayerfully, a good musical background as well. But, what happens when you homeschool and you don't consider yourself musically inclined? How do you teach your younger children to have a love for music? Older children can take private music lessons or sing in the youth choir at church but what about that firm foundation of music that I was talking about above?

It is true that many churches have wonderful music programs and many homeschool co-ops also have music groups. What if you don't have access to those type things, though. Even if you do have access, what if you want to go beyond the traditional church music that is often taught. I'm not talking about wild unwholesome music, I'm talking about music of different (wholesome) styles or from other countries. How do you teach that to your children?

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I think I've found the solution to your problems. It's called "Music Together Family Favorites" from the company Music Together. The byline for Music Together is "Bringing Harmony Home" and they do just that. It is a simple but fabulous program that I think anyone can use and teach.

So, why do I think that this program is fabulous? Well aside of the fact that this program was written by some excellent musical professionals from different backgrounds, and that the Music Together headquarters are in Princeton, New Jersey, it's the wonderful and all inclusive approach that they have. Well, I guess the Princeton part is a bit prejudiced. But, my sister lives near Princeton and I've been to Princeton many times and I've found very few things in Princeton that aren't done well, if any. I suppose there are some, but Music Together isn't one of them.

I almost used the word "different" instead of wonderful in the above paragraph because this  approach is different than what I've seen in many music programs in the past 20 or so years. It isn't very different, however, from the way Miss Owens taught music when I was in school, though, so I chose the word "wonderful" instead. It is wonderful to find a music program like this one.

It's wonderful that it includes songs with different beats and of different styles. It has traditional songs, then it has songs, like "Biddy Biddy", the one I just listened to, that is a traditional song from Jamaica and the upbeat "Stick Tune" where everyone is encouraged to use sticks (or hands and feet) to keep the rhythm.

Which brings me to the next reason why it this program is wonderful. It encourages the use of all of your body, all of your senses, and different methods to learn and experience different types of music. One song may encourage creative dance, while another might have you using dramatic play to act out the song. Still another song may suggest using artwork  to work on a theme and then sing about that artwork. Those are just a few of the neat activities that you'll find yourself using with "Music Together Family Favorites".

It's all inclusive because it it includes suggestions for infants, preschoolers, older children and even parents. You might find yourself holding your child in your lap while they experience the thrill of "Ridin' in the Car". Or, you might find yourself "Playin' in the Kitchen" with your child using different kitchen "instruments".

To be quite truthful, the thing that really impresses me about how all inclusive this program is is that each song has a complete section on how to use that song with children with special needs. Since I have two children that are on the autism spectrum, I was very interested in this section and am very impressed with the many suggestions. From using deep pressure with each song to using a song to teach speech and communication, to using physical activities to enhance the experience, there are many many ways that "Music Together Family Favorites" uses to include the special needs child.

I could go on and on about how wonderful and all inclusive "Music Together Family Favorites" is, but then this post would be too long and most people wouldn't want to read it. You'll just have to purchase the curriculum to see everything that is in it. There are too many great things that I just can't include them all. But, don't worry, all of the suggestions and directions are very well written, explained and easy to follow - even for the not so musically inclined.

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention the fantastic CD that is included in the songbook/CD set. Although the songbook can be used as a stand alone item, with all of the music and guitar cords written out for you, I would suggest buying the set that includes the CD as well. All of the songs are included on the CD and are wonderfully arranged and performed. For those of you who can't read music, the CD is invaluable. I love it because I can just pop in into the car CD player to play the music while traveling. My kids love the music and so do I.

So, how much does all of this cost? You will be surprised to find that the award winning, information packed "Music Together Family Favorites" songbook is just $29.95 when purchased by itself. The songbook/CD combo is only $39.95 and an educators kit that includes a pair of egg shakers and a pair of rhythm sticks is just $47.00. We love this curriculum and I'm sure you will as well. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above for more information.

As usual many of the other TOS Review Crew members reviewed Music Together and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Home Schooling!



 As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was sent the songbook/CD set of Music Together Family Favorites in order to use and give my honest review on this blog.

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