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Homeschooling

Music Together: A TOS Review Crew Review

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For the last few weeks, my family has been enjoying Music Together’s Family Favorites Songbook as part of our homeschool day.

Music Together says that “Music Together classes are based on the recognition that all children are musical. All children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat, and participate with confidence in the music of our culture, provided that their early environment supports such learning.” I’ve seen my children grow in the last few weeks, and really have gained confidence in their musical abilities as they have learned to keep a beat, make music instead of just noise, and sing along with the songs.

What you get- About the CD and the Songbook
PhotobucketWe received the Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers, as well as the companion CD. This songbook contains 19 of the most popular songs from Music Together’s collection. Each song featured has a section in the songbook full of ideas and activities for the teacher to use to develop rhythm, movement skills, singing and listening skills, and to encourage a love of music through play. This CD and songbook is award winning, and it doesn’t take long to see why.

When I first opened this package, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the products. The songbook printed on high quality, thick, glossy paper in full color. It is beautifully laid out, with pictures, graphics and easy to read fonts. That isn’t important to some people, but to me, the presentation is a big deal, and this book feels nice in your hands, and is easy on the eyes.

I popped the CD into my computer and was again impressed. The music recording is very high quality. All the voices on the CD are pleasant to listen to, and there is a lot of variation in the types of instruments, tempo and themes of the songs.

How we used Music Together-

I started by playing the CD in the car, over and over for the first week or so. I wanted the kids to get familiar with all the songs before I started “music time” during our school day. The kids love listening to the CD and picked up the songs pretty quickly. There is a good mix of adults and children singing on the CD, so it really didn’t take much coaching to get the boys singing along. They aren’t normally kids who sing along (which doesn’t make sense to me, because I sing along to everything all the time) but this CD really got them interested.

Little Man has always loved music- His guitar became an important part of our Music Together time. He can strum along with a beat now!

While they were learning the songs, I took some time to read over the suggestions in the songbook for activities to do with each song. For example, one of our favorite songs in the book is “Biddy Biddy” which is a rendition of a Jamaican folk song.  The songbook discusses how this is a “classic egg shaker” song and gives many suggestions for how to tap egg shakers, and different movements that can be done with them. In the same lesson, there are suggestions for singing with different vowel and consonant sounds, animal sounds, naming body parts, large movements, small movements, and ideas for helping the kids have a wonderful “musical experience”.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it really helped me find ways to incorporate all the kids into music time. Each song has suggestions on how to include infants, and activities that are appropriate to do with them. Miss Em has loved banging on a “drum”, shaking shakers, bouncing on my lap, and dancing to the music in this program. I’ve loved to have her be a part of our school day.

Miss Em even looks girly banging on her drum. She loved participating during our Music Together time.

This book is written to be used in many different settings. It has suggestions for being used with a large group, but is very easy to be adapted to use within a family. I was concerned at first because I can’t play guitar or piano, and was worried it would be difficult to “lead” these lessons without them. You could just sing all the songs and do the activities along with the CD, but the lessons suggest modifying the songs, or doing different movements, which really requires singing the songs repeatedly.

I quickly realized this really wasn’t an issue, because the kids learned the songs so well in the car that they are able to sing along with me, and we just use our homemade “instruments” for background music. We are really able to sing the songs and play the games anywhere.

Homemade shakers out of baby food jars.

Music Together does suggest having certain instruments for the kids to use, like tambourines, rhythm sticks, shakers, and so on. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated or expensive. I was able to gather a bunch of homemade rhythm instruments to go with this program- we used a bucket and a spoon for a drum, baby food jars with things in them for shakers, silverware for rhythm sticks, wooden blocks to knock together…. Really the options are limitless for things you can make music with in your own home.

Something else you should know-

My husband, who has banned more than one kid’s music CD and audiobook because of their “annoying level” approves of this CD. The songs are well done and pleasant to listen to (listen to a sample to see for yourself!), and don’t drive Daddy up the wall. We are still working on him being willing to let us bang our “drums” while he is in the room…. But for now, I’ll stick with him being willing to listen to the CD while he is in the car. One step at a time.

Each lesson also includes ideas and recommendations for using the song book with children with special needs. This doesn’t apply to my situation, but I appreciate how this curriculum covers all the angles and includes children of all ages and situations.

In a Nutshell-

Music has become a consistent and well-loved part of our homeschool. The kids and I have been singing these songs, and having a fantastic time with the Family Songbook. Everyone, Baby and Daddy included have been able to participate, and having the whole family together for lessons has been a wonderful experience.

You can learn more about Music Together at their website. Currently, The Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo is available for a special price of $39.95 (a discount of $5). You can also use the coupon code “Schoolhouse” at checkout and save an additional $2.

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Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Read what other crew members thought of Music Together.

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