Music Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Eva Varga

January 13, 20162

One of the first curricula I purchased when we began our homeschool journey was Themes To Remember. It is designed to help anyone (particularly children) to recognize 40 classical music themes, to know the name of the composer of each theme, and to be knowledgeable about and love classical music.

These past two weeks I have been donning a new hat as I substitute for an elementary music teacher. I will see each class four times and thus this book is perfect – one lesson each for the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, & Modern periods of music. All of the classes – kinder to fifth have really enjoyed it!! 

The History of Classical Music

“Don’t only practice your art,
but force your way into its secrets,
for it and knowledge can
raise men to the divine.”
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Over the weekend I was inspired to create a foldable for each of the musical eras we have covered: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. I am delighted to now share these FREEBIES with YOU!! Read on to get the download links.

I have also created an outline to summarize some of the material I covered in each lesson.  I only had time to cover three-four composers from each era, Themes To Remember covers much more. I highly recommend the book if you desire to integrate classical music into your curriculum.

The History of Classical Music: The Baroque Era @EvaVarga.netThe Baroque Era

1600-1750 – Composers wrote predominantly for church and royal family

The music was very ornate with lots of trills and grace notes.

Antonio Vivaldi

  1. Born in 1678 in Italy
  2. Initially a priest and then teacher at all-girls orphanage
  3. Developed concerto form of music (composition for orchestra featuring a solo, often violin)
  4. Spring from The Four Seasons
  5. The Piano Guys – Winter from The Four Seasons + Let it Go from Frozen

Johann Sebastian Bach

  1. Born in 1685 in Germany
  2. 20 children, all accomplished musicians
  3. Organ was his predominant instrument and thus composed for church
  4. Toccata en Fugue in D minor (two segments)

George Frideric Handel

  1. Born in 1685 in Germany
  2. Initially studied to be lawyer before turning to music
  3. Traveled to Italy  to study  with Vivaldi where he learned opera style
  4. Traveled to England
    1. Queen Ann hired him to write Italian Operas, which she loved
    2. King George I employed him to write Water Music
    3. King George II employed him to write Royal Fireworks Music

Download the free Baroque Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Classical Era @EvaVarga.netThe Classical Era

1750-1820 – Composers wrote mostly for the rich upper classes, the aristocracy

The music stressed control of form and emotions

Franz Joseph Haydn

  1. Born in 1732 in Austria
  2. “Father of the Symphony”
  3. Poor as a child
  4. Symphony No 94 – movement 2

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  1. Born in 1756 in Austria
  2. Greatest composer ever
  3. Symphony No. 40 – movement 1
  4. The Piano Guys – Michael Meets Mozart

Ludwig van Beethoven

  1. Born in 1770 in Germany
  2. Moody & hot tempered, made his own rules
  3. Deaf at 31
  4. Sonata 14 (Moonlight)
  5. The Piano Guys – Beethoven’s Five Secrets

Download the free Classical Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Romantic Era @EvaVarga.netThe Romantic Era

1820-1900 – Composers wrote for the rising middle class, much of the music was composed to accompany fairy tales

he music stressed the dignity and freedom of man, nature, the hero-warrior, and emotion

Gioachino Antonio Rossini

  1. Born in 1792 in Italy
  2. William Tell Overture

Frédéric François Chopin

  1. Born in 1810 in Poland
  2. Left Russian-occupied Poland at twenty, making France his home
  3. Used sounds of many Polish national dances in his music
  4. Grande valse brillante

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  1. Born in 1840 in Russia
  2. His ballets especially captivating for children – Sleeping Beauty & Nutcracker Suite
  3. Swan Lake

Edvard Hagerup Grieg

  1. Born in 1843 in Norway
  2. Short in stature
  3. Like other composers of his time, proud of his country
  4. Peer Gynt Suite
    1. Solveig’s Song
    2. Hall of the Mountain King

The Piano Guys – One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful

Download the free Romantic Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Modern Era @EvaVarga.netThe Modern Era

1900-present – Composers began to experiment with new forms, harmonies, and rhythms more than ever before.

New styles of music were developed including jazz, electronic, pop, and reggae.

Claude-Achille Debussy

  1. Born in 1862 in France
  2. Said to have begun the Modern Period with his impressionist style
  3. Wrote much of his music for piano
  4. Created new chords and new scales – much to the irritation of his teachers
  5. Clair de lune (Moonlight) 

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff

  1. Born in 1873 in Russia
  2. Left Russia with his wife and two daughters during the Russian Revolution of 1917, never to return
  3. Virtuoso pianist and specialized in the music of Chopin as well as his own
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 Mvt 3

John Philip Sousa

  1. Born in 1854 in the United States
  2. America’s best remembered and favorite bandmaster
  3. Wrote more than 100 marches and is thus known as the “March King”
  4. Toured Europe four times with his concert band and there introduced Europeans to America’s ragtime music
  5. Upon return, on tour in the states, he introduced America to the music of Tchaikovsky, Rossini, and others
  6. Semper Fidelis
  7. The Stars and Stripes Forever

Download the free Modern Era printable.

~ ~ ~

I have had a fabulous time teaching this mini-unit. It is so fun to share with kids the joys of classical music. Several kiddos have come up to me at recess to share that they googled The Piano Guys when they got home. Others have given me high fives and hugs in the hallway. A mother (and teacher in the building) told me her child (in kinder) came home and exclaimed, “Did you know Vivaldi and Bach were composers?” So very cool.

March 16, 20152

My son has been interested in music for a long time. When he was four years old he exclaimed, “I want to be like Bach!” At the time, I thought it may be a passing phase. Little did I know how much music would be a part of our lifestyle.

We’ve always tried to cultivate their passions. It has now been nearly 7 years and my kids have taken music lessons every week (my son piano and my daughter violin). My son’s passion for piano has never wavered. In fact, this past year he begged to increase his lesson time from 30 minutes to an hour. My daughter expressed interest in auditioning for youth symphony earlier this year.

musictheoryMusic Theory

It has been fascinating to watch my children progress in their music education. Each approaches their lessons in dramatically different ways, staying true to their unique personalities.  We are fortunate to have a music teacher who is adept at teaching each of the kids according to their unique styles.

Even so, I have known for sometime that we needed something more, particularly for my son. We needed an instructional guide to music theory that was not overwhelming (he is only 10 after all) and not too “babyish” as my son would say. When I found The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory from DK Publishing, I knew this was exactly what we needed – not only for my son but for myself as well.  {Many thanks to DK Publishing for providing the book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

This book breaks down a difficult subject in a simple way – with clear, concise language, it explains everything from bass clef basics to circle of fifths. I feel that this is a solid guide for children interested in music composition as well as people either new to music or who are returning to playing an instrument, like me.

Contents at a Glance:

  • Tones
  • Rhythms
  • Tunes
  • Accompanying
  • Embellishing
  • Arranging

musiccompositionMusic Composition

As a result of my daughter’s interest in symphony, we have begun to attend regular performances both locally and regionally. A few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a DVD at our local library, Copying Beethoven and I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to our recent experiences.

My daughter didn’t care too much for the movie but my son watched from start to finish. I should not have been surprised to observe him a few days later listening to a performance on YouTube of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. He had the iPad propped up on his piano with the sheet music laid out on top. With a pencil in his right hand, he proceeded to conduct the musicians through the piece. He was as intense as the conductors we’ve observed perform.

He then shared with me the symphony that he is writing. Though his work is rudimentary, I was amazed to see that he had correctly transcribed the notes he played.

We have just begun to work through the chapters in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music TheoryAlready, I can see an improvement in his performance as well as his music composition. I look forward to the doors his experiences will open.

February 25, 2015

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Finishing Strong. We are a link up that supports families as they homeschool their middle & high school children.

Finishing Strong ~ Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years #44

Make sure to visit our co-hosts: Aspired Living, Blog, She Wrote, Education Possible, Eva Varga, & Starts at Eight

As our kids grow, we are given unique insight in to their passions and potential future goals. Recently, a number of bloggers shared their personal experiences raising children with distinct paths and interests.

Not only were they fun to read, but they were also some of our most popular links from last week.

How to Grow a Reader from Blog, She Wrote

Growing an Introverted Warrior from Education Possible

Growing a Musician from Eva Varga

Homeschooling a Horse Lover from Our Journey Westward

4 Tips for Raising a Crafty Kid from The Sunny Patch

What makes your child one-of-a-kind? What endeavors are you fostering while homeschooling your teen?

We would love to hear about your family’s experience teaching middle & high schoolers at home, so link up with us below.

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February 16, 20155

Music instruction has  always been a major part of our homeschool. A music-rich experience for children – singing, listening and moving – provides a huge benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning.

Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways.

Though not all students will pursue a career in music, providing music education can be both a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

growingamusicianGrowing a Musician

While attending a symphony performance last month, the conductor spoke directly to the youth in the audience. He stated that to become a musician one needed to do only a few things: take lessons with a great teacher, listen to great artists, and practice. He then explained that lessons should include the study of music theory and composition, not just how to play. He also stated that performance is an important part of the practice piece – becoming comfortable playing for others and receiving accolades for your hard work.

Take Lessons with a Great Teacher

My son first expressed interest in learning piano when he was about four years old. In the beginning, we had a little trouble finding an instructor who was willing to work with a child so young.

His first instructor was a gem. She related very well to young children and my daughter began taking piano lessons with her as well. When he was a little fidgety, she would incorporate other instruments to keep him interested and engaged.

The earth has music for those who listen. ~ Shakespeare

As he has gotten older, his interest in piano has only grown. My daughter, on the other hand, chose to continue her music studies with the violin. This was partially prompted by our move to California. We were initially partnered with a charter school that provided the option of violin or guitar lessons as part of their enrichment.

Though we didn’t stick with the umbrella school, my daughter continued instruction in violin. We are fortunate to have a private tutor who adjusts her teaching methods to the learning style of each child. Additionally, she works with each of the kids on music theory and composition.

I started playing clarinet when I was in fifth grade. While I enjoyed Symphonic Band when I was in high school, even participating in district honor band each year, theory and composition wasn’t taught. With 60+ students, my band teacher just didn’t have the time. My children are thereby much more knowledgeable than I.

fall recitalListen to Great Artists

We have many CDs of classical masters in our home library. We enjoy listening to them while we read or do chores. The kids also spend hours watching videos of their favorite artists on YouTube and then trying to emulate them.

Whenever possible, we also attend the concerts of professional musicians. In addition to the North State Symphony performances, we have also seen The Piano Guys, Alpin Hong, and Lindsey Stirling perform live. We all know that attending concerts is fun but there are hidden benefits as well.

Music can change the world because it can change people. ~ Bono

Listening to music elevates you mood. This is attributed to the fact that a live performance brings a more memorable experience when compared to a video taped clip. Additionally, there is more joy to listening to live music, as a performing artist gets to share his or her sentiments with the audience. He or she can freely express emotions and it helps in passing across a certain idea to the audience.

In live concerts, artists involve the crowd in singing along, clapping and even dancing. For this reason, live music can be used to bring people from different backgrounds together.

Where words fail, music speaks. ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Additionally, most performers will offer an opening act or two to get the crowd excited and on their feet. These acts may be bands or individuals you have never heard of and attending a concert gives you a chance to experience their music live. You may discover new sounds that you didn’t know you liked.

You don’t have to go to a large venue to experience the fun of a live concert: many communities offer live music as a way for people to socialize and visit in a safe setting. Local bands may play live in parks or venues, and attending these shows gives you a chance to get out, meet new people, and get involved in your community.


Your ability to play well is fostered primarily by the amount of time you spend playing well. Practice lets us execute a task while using less and less active brain processing. It makes things automatic. When performers master one aspect of their work, they free their minds to think about another aspect.

Practicing regularly goes way beyond music — it’s a skill that has hugely positive ramifications for personal fulfillment and lifetime success. The trick, though, is that self-motivated discipline isn’t exactly first nature for most kids, so it’s up to families to help create positive, engaging and fun ways to practice as a path towards self-motivation.

Great accomplishments do not come easy. Practice can be grueling at times, but improvement in any instrument or at any activity requires hard work. Every student (and teacher!) has days where they don’t feel like practicing, but we all do things we don’t want to do when we are working towards something valuable. Getting your children to practice, even when they don’t want to, is just one part of the process when your child is learning an instrument.

I often think in music. I live my dreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. ~ Albert Einstein

My son has never needed reminders or incentives to practice. He will sit down at the piano multiple times throughout the day to practice – both pieces he is learning with his instructor as well as pieces he is composing himself. We have come to discover that he does best when his practice time is divided up throughout the day rather than all in one siting. 

My daughter, on the other hand, has not had the same level of enthusiasm. In the fall of this past year, however, upon encouragement she auditioned for youth symphony. She worked hard with her instructor and was over-joyed to be selected for second chair. This opportunity has provided her with the inspiration to practice more often – a little competition goes a long way.

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory. ~ Oscar Wilde

We have also learned that my son practices in this way because the piano is easily accessible to him. He can hardly walk past it without sitting down to play a short piece. Taking this into consideration, rather than packing up the violin after each day’s practice, we now leave the instrument and bow out all the time. Now, as our daughter goes about her day, she can pick it up and play whenever she likes as well.


In addition to improving creativity, learning and performing music cultivates many skills that will continue to be useful to your child throughout their lives. The act of learning and playing an instrument, the encouragement of a teacher and the enthusiasm of a proud parent, will build in a child a sense of pride and confidence. Additionally, assigning pieces for a performance helps to teach students about setting goals and obtaining them within a specified time frame.

Much to the delight of parents, our music teacher provides her students with an opportunity to perform at a recital twice a year – once in the fall and again in the spring. In addition to providing the kids a venue to share what they have learned, they come away inspired by others and often hear pieces that they would like to learn themselves.

Here’s a peak at their spring recital a year ago, Spring Recital: Japan & Norway edition.

I mentioned earlier that my kids enjoy watching their favorite artists on YouTube. Inspired by The Piano Guys’ Charlie Brown Medley, my son recently began volunteering to play the piano at a local retirement home. He performs twice each month and has a growing fan base.

*     *     *

I certainly have no idea where the interests of my children will lead them in the future or what career path they may choose. In a related post, I outlined 5 Steps to Cultivating Passions in Children.  Regardless, I know that a foundation in music education will help to encourage self-discipline and build skills in cooperation, creativity, and communication.

GrowingaSuccessDiscover more posts in the series by visiting iHomeschool Network’s Growing a Success.

November 24, 20141

Passion is something that is cultivated. True passion arises after you’ve put in the long hours to really become a craftsman in your field and can then leverage this value to really have an impact, to gain autonomy and respect, and ultimately, to control your occupational destiny.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs’ famous Stanford Commencement address: You’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle.


Attending a Piano Guys concert this past summer.

I certainly have no idea where the interests of my children will lead them in the future. My role, as their parent, is to provide them with the tools (academic knowledge and skills) and resources (knowing how to find answers to their questions and the ability to work with others) they will need for success as an adult.

Our homeschooling style has evolved over the years; we go with the flow and our approach changes with the tides. At our core, however, is interest-based or child-led learning. Today, I share a simple five step approach to cultivating passions in children.

Interest-based, child-led learning emanates from within the child outward.  As parents, we can be careful observers who translate what we see into additional resources that can feed the flame of passion within the child.

Our wisdom and experience as parents is absolutely needed.  It is what we are exposing our children to within our home and outside those walls in the greater world or through the great, intellectual resources of computers and technology that can help our children stumble upon an intriguing interest.  It is also taking what they become passionate about and feeding the flame from within outward.


Meeting the incredible pianist, Alpin Hong, after an evening performance.

5 Steps to Cultivating Passions

1. Gather Sparks of Curiosity

Allow the whims and interests of your children guide you. Those little sparks of interest can lead you to great places. Follow the bunny trail. Trust your intuition and use it to make small investments in things that are potentially interesting. Read different books, take on different activities, and don’t be afraid to meet different people.

2. Fan the Flames of Interest

Build upon the little sparks of interest and opportunities that come by your life. If your child reads a book about sailing and likes the subject, sign him up for a sailing class. If your child enjoys playing with Lego, consider buying iStop Motion and playing around with making your own animated short films together.

There have been many rabbit trails along our homeschool journey. Here are a few whose initial sparks have ignited flames:


Volunteering at a local retirement home, a weekly service he initiated on his own.

3. Cut Out Distractions

Cultivating whims and exploring new passions requires time. If their interests are genuine and worth exploring, it shouldn’t be too difficult to eliminate the non-essentials. Distractions such as television, excess internet usage, and video games only take a bit of conditioning to let go. Like many modern families, this is an area we are still working to balance, little by little.

When the kids are passionate about something, however, you will find they truly want to spend time honing their skill.  Jeffrey, for example, is a very active boy of nearly 10 years. Like most boys his age, it is difficult to get him to sit still for very long. However, he spends hours watching videos of Alpin Hong or The Piano Guys on YouTube and then trying to emulate them himself. Inspired by The Piano Guys’ Charlie Brown Medley, he recently began volunteering to play the piano at a local retirement home.

While Geneva has had music lessons for several years (first in piano and now with violin), seeing The Piano Guys in concert sparked a desire to improve and invest more time in cultivating her own skills. Shortly after our return home, she expressed interest in auditioning for Youth Symphony. She worked hard with her instructor and was over-joyed to be selected for second chair.


Upon auditioning for Youth Symphony

4. Create Value

Down the road, if you or your child have a skill that creates social value and can fill human needs, you can also consider a process for gaining income. This certainly isn’t necessary for all interests and monetizing a passion takes skill, as any entrepreneur can tell you. Some passions are easy to translate. An interest in fly tying could allow you to design and sell your own flies. Other passions are more difficult.

My daughter loves hand tying her own flies for fly fishing and at Fish Camp last year received acclaim for a design of her own. She recently set up a booth at a local craft faire and sold her entire inventory!


Volunteering to tie flies at a local fly fishing workshop 

5. Repeat

The process of following whims, cultivating passions, turning them into valuable skills, and then finally earning revenue (if interested) is a lifelong pursuit. Just as you should not expect that all their passions will lead to a job they love, do not obsess over failed attempts or that their interests change as they grow.

The sensation of excitement about a particular idea is often a different sensation than the type of deep passion that drives people into a fulfilling career. Excitement comes and goes.

If you desire to allow your children’s whims and interests to guide their learning and wish to cultivate their passions, you may be interested in reading my earlier post,  7 Steps to Successful Project Based Learning.

August 22, 20144

The summer has flown by! I can’t believe that we have only one week of August remaining on the calendar! We have taken advantage of many wonderful opportunities this summer – some I have yet to share with you, but I will … I promise.

Literature Circle

In the spring, we started a homeschool Literature Circle that has been a great success. Literature circles are a collaborative and student-centered approach to the study of literature. They are a students’ equivalent of an adult book club, but with greater structure, expectation, and rigor. The aim is to encourage thoughtful discussion and a love of reading and writing in young people.

Our Literature Circle group has two components: Writer’s Workshop and Book Club. I shared a little previously about how we got started with Writer’s Workshop.  Today, I am excited to give you a sneak peak into Book Club


“The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.” ~ JK Rowling

Given a specific genre, students begin by selecting books they desire to read together. We generally plan ahead about 6 months.  Thus far, I have modeled how to lead a book discussion.

We will soon begin to transition to more student led discussions.  They will rotate through five roles: Discussion Director, Literary Luminary, Creative Connector, Word Wizard, and Stupendous Summarizer.


This month, our book selection was Ranger’s Apprentice (The Ruins of Gorlan, Book One) by John Flanagan. This is the first book in a delightful new fantasy series. Most of the story focuses on the learning process that Will, the main character, goes through as an apprentice. One of the skills he comes to master is archery. It was fitting, therefore, to introduce the kids to one of our favorite sports.

Reading the Ranger’s Apprentice also renewed our own enthusiasm for the sport. We thereby signed up for 4H and have selected Archery as our first project. We are all looking forward to bringing archery back into our routines.

lakedaysLake Days

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to spend a day with our dear friends back home in Central Oregon. It was a very casual weekend without any big plans – we just enjoyed one another’s company, catching up with one another.

We’ve also spent a few weekdays at the lake with our homeschool friends. Lake Days are a much anticipated break from our regular studies. We are blessed in NorCal to have warm temperatures even through October so we plan on continuing these unstructured days for a few weeks more.


Youth Symphony

A few weeks ago, I had asked the kids to write an essay describing their goals and aspirations. What hobbies were they passionate about? What new skills did they hope to develop? As expected, my described in depth his interest in piano and aeronautics. My daughter, on the other hand, surprised me a little.

As a result of this assignment, she expressed an interest in Youth Symphony whose mission is to provide young music students the opportunity to participate in a performing ensemble. I think this will be the perfect motivation for her – she tends to be a little less inclined to practice than her brother.  I thereby contacted the director and set up an audition time. Assuming she passes, we will be adding symphony to our weekly routine.

 Homeschool Omnibus

The Homeschool Omnibus is on sale until Sunday.

With so many incredible resources, this is an incredible bargain. Less than 25¢ per eBook! This year’s e-Books are also formatted for Kindle for the same low price!

Plus, you can purchase an optional DVD so you don’t have to store all the files on your computer. You’ll also have a chance to win 1 of 3 Kindles!


Many thanks to these kind blog hop hostesses: