Make Learning About Music and Musicians Fun With Zeezok Publishing (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I will confess that I am greatly lacking in knowledge of music and art. Other than being in choir as a high school student and taking brief art and music appreciation classes in college, I really have very little knowledge of either. I’ve tried to remedy this with my own children, and I’ve used a variety of resources to introduce them to composers and different musical styles as well as artists and works of art.

When I saw that we had the opportunity to review a music appreciation curriculum with the Crew, I was thrilled. We received Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing LLC. This set, which covers seven composers and is intended for kindergarten- sixth grade included a student workbook, seven composer biographies, a CD set for listening and a CD Rom with a printable lapbook. The student book is consumable and includes exercise for the student to complete as well as a brief lesson plan at the beginning of each composer’s section. We chose to begin our study by learning about Paganini.

Homeschool music program

About Zeezok Publishing

Zeezok Publishing LLC is a company I was not even aware of before this review. I was excited to learn more about them, however, because they offer a variety of resources for homeschool families. Besides this music curriculum, they offer ebooks, regular books, literature guides, and audio books. One of the really cool things I saw on the site is that they offer movie guide to go along with historically based movies so that you can use them for educational viewing. I also noticed that they offer the composer biographies from this music appreciation program separately as regular books, ebooks, and audio books. This would be great if you wanted to read about the composers but weren’t looking for an entire music appreciation course.

Zeezok Publishing seems to be a small company that is growing and adding content to their site. After you’ve looked at this great music curriculum, check out what else they offer.

Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades

The music appreciation course that we had the opportunity to review is based on seven great composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, and Schubert. The course is intended for grades kindergarten- sixth grade. I used the course with Ashlyne- 6th grade- and Rachel- 5th grade. We chose to focus primarily on Paganini during the review. The course came with several resources.

Music appreciation

~The student workbook is a hole punched, paperback, consumable book. It begins with an introduction as well as a scope and sequence to tell you how the program works. There is also a listing of all of the music you can find on the included CDs.

The book is divided into seven sections- one for each composer. At the beginning of each composer’s section, there is a weekly lesson plan that details what to cover each day. The composers each have four weeks of study. There are symbols in the lesson plans that let the parent know what materials are going to be used in that day’s activities.

Homeschool music appreciation curriculum

Each week’s activities begin with reading from the composer biography. The reason I chose Paganini for our review was that he was a composer I knew almost nothing about, so reading his biography was really interesting. After the reading for the week, there are comprehension questions. Then there are a variety of activities to complete during the week.
You could choose to do all of the activities at once, one time each week. That would be a large block of time. I chose to do the week’s reading one day and then do the activities another day. Some of the activities we did for Paganini included discussing his character qualities; reading “Tidbits of Interest” about Paganini, his family, and where he lived; coloring in a map of Italy; discussing personal music preferences; finding out more about a violin; and learning about Napoleon. At the end of the unit, there is a quiz. I just asked the questions orally because I don’t keep a grade for fine arts.
~ The CD set contains five discs of music, including music for each composer. There were sections in the weekly lesson plan to tell us when to listen to different tracks of Paganini’s music. I wished there was an option for downloading the music because we don’t have a regular CD player anymore, and only one of our computers plays CDs. I did like, however, that there was a variety of music and that the lesson plan specified when to listen.
~The composer biographies are part of the Great Musicians series. Most were paperback books, although one came as a hardback. For each week, we read one or two chapters of the book. The book’s reading level was pretty simple, and the girls could have read it independently, but we enjoyed reading aloud and being able to discuss the biography. 
We love biographies, and this part of the course is one we were really excited about. We were a little disappointed because of the way the biography jumped ahead. We would be reading about a period in Paganini’s life and then discover a page or so later that he was much older. Or an event would be referenced that we hadn’t even read about. It made the biography a little hard to follow. I looked up some information about Paganini. He had quite a few negative elements to his life, and perhaps things sometimes seemed choppy because these were left out. Because my girls are older we discussed this and filled in some of the gaps.
~ The set also contained a CD with a printable lapbook. We really had difficulty with this CD because  only one of our computers has a CD ROM drive, and that computer doesn’t work with our printer. I again wished that this component could come as a download. To solve my problem, I took the whole CD to the office supply store where I often have printing done. They also didn’t have too many options, but they did have one machine that could print from CD! Because I was getting it printed there, I couldn’t specify to only print the Paganini pages (because I couldn’t open the CD and see which pages). I ended up having two copies of the whole lapbook printed. Each of the composers has a lapbook element, so I knew we could use them as we went along.

Music lapbook

I love lapbooks, and this ended up being my favorite part of the course. The student book gave us the information to create the lapbook components. The girls both like lapbooking as well, so this was a fun part of the program for us. We made components such as a “What Is So Special About a Violin?” book, a “Variations on a Theme” booklet that helped explain how Paganini wrote variations on a piece of music, and “Learn Italian Flashcards.”

Paganini lapbook

Music lapbook

More Thoughts…

One thing I really liked about the course was that it was adaptable for the wide age range it is intended for. I love multi-age curriculum. Currently my fifth and sixth grader are fairly close in ability, but when my older kids were younger, there were times that I could use a great multi-age curriculum for all four. None of the activities were too “young” for the girls. And there were some discussion activities specifically for older kids. This would be a good curriculum choice for a whole family music curriculum for a family with middle schoolers or younger.

Paganini lapbook

Other Review Crew members used this course, focusing on a variety of composers. You can read what they thought by clicking below.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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