It takes about three weeks to finish this CD, and then we begin listening to another CD that has his greatest compositions. We concentrate on one per week only. The children usually draw a narration of what they are feeling while listening to ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,’ or ‘Magnificat’ and others. I simply ask them what comes to their mind while they are listening to a particular piece. Often, they draw scenery, or a beautiful maiden, flowers, etc… Sometimes, just the opposite is felt, such as war and sadness. If they have troubles getting started, I volunteer what I am thinking about… That’s all it takes and then they take off. I enjoy listening to them describe their pictures and they enjoy this form of narration. I keep each lesson very short. I want to always end with their begging for more.
Usually by the end of twelve weeks, the children are very familiar with the composer’s life as well as three or four of his works. We have a rule in our school that only the term’s composer, folksongs or hymns are allowed to be played during morning lessons. This ensures that the children are getting an ample amount of time to listen to and enjoy the music. Eventually, they begin to listen to it on their own, as my daughter says, “just because it's beautiful, mom.”
The CDs are available at our bookshop here.
If you are on a tight budget you can skip the audio biographies. Instead, do an online search and simply read a biography to your children from the computer. You can buy inexpensive ‘Greatest Hits’ CDs of various composers at your local Wal-Mart, as well. Just be sure to focus on ONE composer’s works at a time. This is a basic principal of the Charlotte Mason approach. We don’t want to overload our children with information; we want them to develop an ear for excellent music and the ability to enjoy it for a lifetime. This is the art of ‘gentle learning.’