Homeschool Product Review Music History: An Introduction and Overview

July 14, 2017
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The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program is offering a new online class – Music History: An Introduction and Overview. It’s a great overview of music history – perfect for learning the styles, genres, composers and their masterworks that helped shape the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras. It’s also an exceptional fit for homeschoolers (especially for kids ages 12 – 17).

Music History: An Introduction and Overview is very thorough. Specifically, it provides-

  • More than 150 learning activities
  • 30+ interactive listening activities
  • More than 100 practice questions to test knowledge and confirm understanding
  • 185+ embedded audio examples from the Naxos Music library

Plus, the course meets a variety of learning styles (Yah!), and features enjoyable, interactive elements.

After completing the course, students will have a thorough knowledge and understanding of:

  • 15 prominent composers including their biographical details, musical careers, and musical styles and contributions
  • The structure, genre, plot, and historical context of 15 masterworks
  • More than 100 musical terms with examples as they apply to representative compositions
  • The historical events and musical milestones that helped shape the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras

What do I like about this course –  Music History: An Introduction and Overview?

1.You learn a lot! FYI – this is the Table of Contents for the Baroque portion of the course:

  • Baroque
  • Introduction
  • Polyphony
  • Definition: Baroque, homophonic texture, polyphonic texture
  • Basso continuo and figured bass notation
  • Basso continuo and figured bass notation (2)
  • Definition: figured bass and basso continuo
  • Ornamentation in art
  • Ornamentation in music
  • Definition: ornamentation
  • Terraced dynamics
  • Definition: terraced dynamics
  • Major-minor tonal system
  • Definition: major-minor tonal system
  • The Affections
  • Definition: the Affections
  • Time travel (Optional)

While learning about the Baroque period, you learn about the following musicians – Vivaldi, Bach and Handel. Specifically, here’s what you learn about Handel :

  • Discovery Listening
    • Oratorio
    • “Overture”
    • “There were shepherds” and “Glory to God”
  • Composer’s Life and Work
    • Early years
    • Hamburg and Italy
    • French overture
    • Rinaldo
    • Patronage
    • Water music
    • Royal Academy of Music
    • Giulio Cesare
    • From opera seria to English oratorio
    • Later life and death
    • Musical sampler
  • Detailed Listening
    • “Overture”
    • Definition: French overture
    • “There were shepherds” and “Glory to God”
    • Definitions: recitativo secco/accompagnato, word painting, libretto
    • “Rejoice Greatly”
    • Word painting versus programmatic writing
    • Definition: oratorio, melisma, aria
    • “Hallelujah”
  • Summary
    • Musical style
    • Mission

WOW! And that’s just one period and one composer from that particular period!

  1. The course has a good flow to it. It’s easy to follow. It makes sense.
  2. As you can see, audio files are embedded in the course.
  3. The timeline is a plus. Learning about the composers while learning about how and where they lived, makes the course interesting. For instance, did you know that Handel was a financially successful composer and musician; Mozart was not, and was buried in an unmarked grave? Or that Bach wrote parts of his Little Organ Book while in jail?
  4. The course is interactive – the time travel scenarios are a plus.
  5. You can earn badges – I’m a sucker for badges!
  6. I’m glad the modern era is covered. I especially like that Leonard Bernstein and West Side Story are included.
  7. I also like that Alexina Louie (yah, finally a female composer!) is included. Many of the featured composers came from musical families, and several had sisters that were accomplished musicians. I think this should definitely be discussed in your homeschool program – how the times one lives in may limit a person/why so many of the great composers are men.
  8. The glossary has audio pronunciations – very helpful.
  9. Since this is an online course, you can learn independently and at your convenience – something I (and most homeschoolers) appreciate.

In Closing

If you’re interested, you can try out some of the interactive activities and learn more about the course here. To learn more about the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program click here. And, FYI – their online bookstore offers teaching and learning resources for students of all ages and instruments – you might want to check it out as well.