Posts filed under Composer Study

Learn About Beethoven

“Music is a higher revelation than philosophy.” ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

The music of Beethoven has spoken to listeners for nearly 250 years. His symphonies, sonatas, concertos, chamber music, and MORE have gained him the reputation as one of the most important composers in history - if not THE most important composer in history.

Giving our children a knowledge of the life, times, and music of Beethoven is a gift they will carry their entire lives. It will build an appreciation and love for music that will stay with them forever.

Learn About Ludwig van Beethoven - resources and ideas to teach children of all ages

Children’s Books About Beethoven

Children learn so much through stories. Quality stories of the composers give us a glimpse into the life and times behind the music.

Beethoven certainly had a colorful life (to say the least), and stories about him are engaging, funny, and often sad. It is good for our children to see the many facets of the composer, and to understand what drove him to write so many beautiful masterpieces.

Learn About Beethoven - simple resources for children

Movies About Beethoven

Download and print this picture of Beethoven to include your SQUILT binder - or just to put up in your schoolroom as you are learning about Beethoven!

Favorite Beethoven Recordings

One of the easiest ways to expose our children to the music of Beethoven is just to play the music everywhere and often! Use these recordings to help:

And of course, the best way to learn about a composer’s music is to LISTEN. This video should give you enough to listen to for a while!

Learn About Beethoven in SQUILT LIVE!

In October we are celebrating the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Join us for the month and receive TWO live lessons (taught by Mary, a degreed music specialist), a 31 day Beethoven listening calendar, and access to our ENTIRE archives, which includes over 25 video lessons and printable lesson packets.

A SQUILT LIVE! membership is perfect for children preschool - middle school. Our lessons appeal to all ages learning together.

Posted on September 26, 2018 and filed under Composer Study, books, how to teach music apprec, music appreciation.

John Philip Duck & The Washington Post March

Music and literature can be paired together beautifully.

As we teach our children to appreciate good music, we can engage them with quality literature as well. 

This post is the first in a series of music and book pairings.

These quick, easy (and 100% FREE) lessons will expose your children to a piece of music, a composer, and a story.

Of course, we're always here with music appreciation volumes and our SQUILT LIVE! program to help you give your children MORE, as well.


Music and a Story: John Philip Duck & The Washington Post March

Read the Story - John Philip Duck


This is a delightful story that immediately makes you want to turn on that march music. What a perfect way to learn about The March King, John Philip Sousa.

"Edward loves his pet duck more than anything. He raised it from a baby, and now it follows him everywhere - even to the big fancy hotel in Memphis where he works with his father. Everyone at the Peabody loves to watch that little duck do tricks; why, it can even waddle up and down in time to a John Philip Sousa march, which is why Edward decides to name it John Philip.

But one day the hotel owner finds John Philip in his lobby fountain and he is NOT amused. Until Edward has an idea. What if he can train a bevy of ducks to march along behind him, swim in the fountain all day, and then march out every evening? If Edward can do that, the owner tells him, he and John Philip will have a permanent place at the Peabody. But can it really be done?"

(via Amazon)


Learn More About The Washington Post March

Watch the following video with your children - it uses the first section of the music to give some interesting facts about the march.


Watch this United States Air Force Band perform the entire march. 

Can you move around the room to the beat?

Maybe you have drums or other rhythm instruments to use to respond to the beat?

This isn't "sit still and listen" music - it's is MOVEMENT music!


Draw What You Hear

Give your children this Draw What You Hear Sheet. Have them listen to the music and draw whatever comes to their minds.


Learn More About John Philip Sousa

Use the following links to learn more about the composer, John Philip Sousa:




The Washington Post March will be one of pieces I teach about LIVE this summer in the SQUILT LIVE! membership.

We'll spend 45 minutes learning about the piece - the instrumentation, rhythm, mood, tempo, dynamics, and more!

It's going to be a wonderful summer of learning about patriotic music. Don't miss it!

Learn About Chopin's Minute Waltz

One of the most approachable and memorable piano works for children is the "Minute" Waltz, by Frederic Chopin.

As we seek to spread a feast of beautiful music before our children, we must not neglect the piano music of Chopin. 

Known as the Poet of the Piano, Chopin was one of the defining composers of the Romantic Era.

Learning about the Waltz in D flat minor, Opus 64, no. 1 (otherwise known as the "Minute" Waltz) is the perfect entry point. The piece is short, evokes a vivid mental image, and has quite the clever story to accompany it. 

The Minute Waltz is the perfect piece to add to your child's growing music appreciation repertoire.


Learn About Chopin's Minute Waltz

The Minute Waltz

Written in 1847 by Frederic Chopin, this waltz was first known as The Waltz of the Little Dog, because Chopin watched a little dog - named Marquis - chasing its tail while he was composing the music! The dog was a friend of Chopin's and Chopin actually wrote about him in several of his letters.


Children can learn all about Frederic Chopin through reading the beautiful biographies,

Son of Poland (Early Years) and Son of Poland (Later Years). 


This piece is now commonly referred to as the "Minute" Waltz. (and yes - pronouncing it like the unit of time - one minute)

As your children listen to this piece, point out to them that the TEMPO (speed of the beat) is Molto Vivace, which is Italian for very lively.

But here's the thing...

The piece takes LONGER than one minute to play.

It is actually called the "Minute" Waltz because it is a small (miniature) waltz.   (How about a lesson in homonyms?)

If you listen carefully, you will hear that the waltz has two distinctly different sections - an A and a B section. The overall FORM of the waltz is ternary (3 parts) - or ABA.

Chopin's Minute Waltz


Enjoy this video all about the Minute Waltz - including a challenge for your children at the end!

This piece is one of many we learn about in our live music appreciation lessons - SQUILT LIVE! To access our ENTIRE ARCHIVES of recorded lessons, lesson packets, teaching videos, and more, simply join our monthly music appreciation membership! 

Designed to make music appreciation easy, enjoyable, and approachable, the lessons are engaging and fun. If you cannot attend the live lessons, we make recordings available.

AND, a subscription to SQUILT LIVE! also comes with monthly listening calendars, product discounts, teaching tips, and a special members-only SQUILT volume - SQUILT Goes to the Movies.

Come learn about beautiful music today in SQUILT LIVE!


Posted on March 16, 2018 and filed under Composer Study, Homeschool Curriculum, music appreciation.

Composer Study in the Homeschool

Composer study is an essential part of a full and rich home education for children. 

Whether it is exposing children to the ornate organ works of JS Bach, the tempestuous repertoire of Beethoven, the sweeping symphonies of Gustav Mahler, or even the iconic movie music of John Williams, learning about one composer IN DEPTH is of great value. 

Consider Charlotte Mason's instruction to parents on the subject:

Let the young people hear good music as often as possible, and that under instruction. It is a pity we like our music, as our pictures and our poetry, mixed, so that there are few opportunities of going through, as a listener, a course of the works of a single composer. But this is to be aimed at for the young people; let them study occasionally the works of a single great master until they have received some of his teaching, and know his style.
— Charlotte Mason (Vol. 5, p. 235)

How then do we go about teaching our children about composers? And, how do we do that if we, the parents, have little or no musical knowledge?

Giving our children the gift of a composer's music is so simple.

Choose a Composer! 

The first step is choosing a composer to study. 

Here are a few ways to go about doing that:

  • Choose a composer based on the historical time period you are studying. 
  • Choose a composer based on INTEREST (Do you have a favorite composer? Does your child love a certain piece of music? Have you always wanted to know about a composer?  Start there.).
  • Here's a list of 5 composers children will enjoy --- easy! 

Learn About the Composer's Life

Children love to learn PERSONAL details about composers.

And, let's face it: most composers have/had extremely interesting (and sometimes scandalous) lives!

The best way our family has found to learn about a composer's life is through quality biographies.

In Best Books for Music Appreciation we detail many of these books (and a few other resources) that help your children become intrigued with a particular composer.

Explore the Music!

This is the part that becomes a bit daunting for some parents.

How do you teach your children about a composer's music when you don't know about the music yourself? 

  • Use YouTube to find playlists of a composer's music
  • Purchase a "best of" collection  (many of these are available to stream for FREE if you have Amazon Prime)
  • Find a curriculum that guides you through the composer's music

SQUILT Spotlights

After homeschooling for many years and now authoring a music appreciation curriculum, I found a need for quality composer studies.

There are plenty of studies that focus on the composer's life and have a student listen to their works, but not many studies that really DISSECT the works and teach children the finer points of listening.

Wouldn't it be great if your child heard a piece by JS Bach and just KNEW it was by Bach because of the way it sounded?  

SQUILT Spotlights do just that.  

Each Spotlight includes PLENTY of biographical information about the composer, and it also includes three representative works by that composer, complete with listening links, directions for listening (and plenty of scripted teaching instructions for parents!), notebooking pages, and MORE!

The SQUILT listening sheet has helped thousands of parents break music down into its essential elements, and better still - it is training children to recognize those same elements! 

Each Spotlight also includes special access to a password protected resource page on SQUILT Music that provides additional resources for learning. 

By the end of a SQUILT Spotlight your children will know all about a composer as well as what their works SOUND LIKE, and what makes that composer's works unique to THEM.  

Currently, Spotlights are available for Bach, Handel, Mozart & Dvorak - with more coming soon!



Composer study doesn't have to get left out of your child's education.

In fact, it just might become something that sticks with them for the REST of their life. Wouldn't that be a great gift to give your children?


Composer Study in the Homeschool

Do you include composer study in your homeschool?

Take ONE thing off your plate. Let us teach your children music appreciation.

Sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee... Or learn with us. 


Posted on April 30, 2016 and filed under Composer Study.

Best Books for Music Appreciation

The gift of music appreciation lasts a lifetime. 

Through the SQUILT curriculum, learning HOW to appreciate beautiful music is simple and FUN!  

Once our children begin to learn about great music, it naturally leads to a curiosity about the composers of that music, and to a curiosity about instruments, the orchestra, and much more. 

Following is a listing of books that are on our shelves at home - books that have been read to children when I taught elementary music, and books that have been read (and re-read) to my own children. 


Best Books for Music Appreciation

This post contains affiliate links. 


Book Organization


Most of our homeschool books are organized in IKEA Billy Bookcases in our basement. 

I have a section that is simply for Fine Arts, and the music books occupy one shelf.

They are categorized by general books, biographies, and stories in music. 

By keeping the books in easy sight, I can reference them more often, and i can also encourage my children to reference them more often, too.

Of course, sometimes I strew good books around the house, so if we're learning about Beethoven I might put out my favorite Opal Wheeler Beethoven biography on the coffee table in the family room, or just casually leave it on the kitchen table.  

You will find this list to be simple and of the highest quality... less is more when providing resources for children. 

Best Books for Music Appreciation

Composer Biographies

Favorite Composer Biographies

Opal Wheeler Composer Biographies  --- lovely stories about composers as children. My own children relate to these so well and they are EXTREMELY well written. 

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers -- light stories about the composers, but with a lot of information and fun cartoons -- great for all ages. 

Lives of the Musicians (Good Times, Bad Times, and What the Neighbors Thought) -- humorous stories about composers

Famous Children Series -- great for younger children -- simple stories with a lot of basic composer information

Stories in Music

A great way to go DEEPER with a composer is to explore a particular piece of music in depth.  

These stories in music offer our children the opportunity to learn about the history of a piece and its composer. Most of them come with a quality recording of the music, so I highly recommend these for ANY time. 

Peter and the Wolf

The Carnival of the Animals

Rhapsody in Blue

VIvaldi's Four Seasons

The Farewell Symphony

The Magic Flute


Do YOU have a favorite book about the orchestra, composers, or just music in general?  Please share it in the comments below and we can add to the list! 

(And don't forget to check out the SQUILT Music Appreciation series - a simple open and go curriculum designed for parents with no musical knowledge! )

Best Books for Music Appreciation

Take ONE thing off your plate. Let us teach your children music appreciation.

Sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee... Or learn with us. 


Posted on December 29, 2015 and filed under Composer Study, books.