Category Archives: Music

A Trip to the Orchestra

This week we headed off to the Brisbane Powerhouse.

It was our first visit to the Powerhouse and the fantastic New Farm Park right next door.  I even got there without any navigational issues so I’m sure we’ll be back again before long.

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The purpose for our visit was an orchestra performance.

Once or twice a year I take the boys (and several friends) to the orchestra.   We love it.

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The performance we attended was “Maximus Musicus” and the kids have voted it amongst their favourites.  It was delightful!

Prior to our visit I purchased the book and CD for us to enjoy.  It also makes a lovely memento of our visit.  Apparently there are two more books in the works.  I dearly hope they turn them into future performances.

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Before any visit to the orchestra we always read through a selection of our growing collection of orchestra focused books.

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This was a new-to-us title and it was great.  It led us to focus on the different families of the orchestra.

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As we explored each family, we popped over and met each individual member in the book, Meet the Orchestra.

You should have seen us, we had all of our books open at once and were jumping from one to the other to create a new whole.

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It wasn’t just books that we were simultaneously exploring.  We had a new music app open as well so we could hear each instrument and a musical piece featuring the instrument.

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I highly recommend the “Meet the Orchestra” app.  It’s one of the best music apps I’ve seen and I’ve downloaded a few recently and deleted the rest.

There is a ‘Learn’ and ‘Quiz’ component to the app.

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In the ‘Learn’ section you choose the instrument family you want to explore and you can hear its sound, its name, specific information about the instrument and music featuring the instrument.  It’s wonderful.

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In the ‘Quiz’ section you have four different activities, each with multiple levels.

The boys and I both enjoyed these games and they do get quite challenging as you progress, particularly the ‘Define Order’ quiz.  Or maybe we’re just musically challenged, which isn’t too far from the truth.

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Neither of my boys are learning to play an instrument (unless you count CD players), but, as I tell a musically inclined friend, I’m training up an audience for all those children who do learn to play instruments.  That’s a worthy goal, right?  And at present I’m right on target with my goal and we’re already counting down the sleeps until our next orchestra audience training session.  🙂


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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Music


The Composer is Dead

How many times did you go to the orchestra with your class at school?  I remember going once in my twelve years of school.  As a result I never really had an interest in or appreciation of a real live orchestra.  I reckon I was jipped.


But thank goodness for homeschooling.  Every year for the past 8 years I’ve been to at least one (sometimes two) orchestral performances a year.  Oh yes, I let my little men come with me too.  Hehehe.


Today we went to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer is Dead”.  This was the second time we’ve seen this performance and we loved it just as much if not more than the last time.


With an extra year of maturity my boys better understood the numerous puns.

Their favourite:

“The composer is dead.  This is called decomposing.”

My boys laughed out loud at this.  Okay, so did I.  Hey, it’s funny.


If you are looking for a performance that will introduce you to the orchestra then this is the one.  It’s not solely a murder mystery (which I won’t spoil for you), the detective also introduces you to each  instrument of the orchestra and their role as he hears their alibi.


Of course if you can’t get to a real life orchestral performance of “The Composer is Dead” then your second best option is to purchase or borrow the book with accompanying cd.

We bought the book and cd AND went to the live gig.  You can’t get too much of a good thing.



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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Music


How I Teach Music…a little background first

Music is an area where I have NO skill…sorry, yes I can turn on the cd player but that is about my limit.  I always wanted to learn to play the piano and at Christmas or birthdays my parents would oblige by buying me musical cash registers or calculators to feed my creative urge.  Later my Nana gave me an old keyboard and some sheet music and I dabbled around with those and taught myself a handful of tunes.  But that’s where my musical talent lies.

When it came to teaching music to my boys I was in a true panic.  I rushed to the teacher supply store and searched their shelves (yes a book store is an early port of call in all emergencies).  I came home with a series called Music Express.  It came with a book telling you exactly what to do and also came with a cd of all the music you needed.  It seemed like a lifesaver at the time and we did use some of the lessons but I found that we avoided music and the lessons were fizzlers, really more suited to a classroom environment.  The product was good but it was not suited to our family.

Then we went down the music teacher route.  I didn’t want to teach an instrument as the boys had shown no interest in such a thing.  My goal was to find a class where they could participate in singing and learn basic music concepts while having fun.  I did find two such classes that we attended for a while last year but one was overpriced and a long distance to drive and the other was poorly managed by a lady who had no musical training.  Both groups were also ideally suited to preschoolers and younger and each class had only been tweaked to accommodate older homeschoolers.  It just wasn’t working for the expense and driving time.  Ethan also wasn’t terribly interested.

I tried to fill our void with trips to hear the orchestra, classical music cds and a large assortment of music instruments.  All these things were great but I knew that we were skipping a huge chunk of the music syllabus that our state requires us to cover.

Then one day at the library we discovered a children’s educational music cd rom.  I snapped it up and scoured the library catalogue for more.  I found one more and went home a happy mumma with two possible solutions to our music situation.  The cd roms were good and did teach a little music theory but they weren’t gutsy enough to carry us through several years of music.  But I realised that cd roms were the perfect solution to our music problem.  They took the music teaching away from me (Hip-hip-hooray!!) and both boys learn easily on the computer.   This was particularly important for Ethan as music isn’t something he’s terribly interested in but he does love the computer.

So I went hunting for music teaching software.  Surely it existed somewhere.  After a long hunt I found it and it’s fantastic!  Here it is – Children’s Music Journey:

The answer to my music woes.  It does it all – teaches musical concepts, how to read notes and rhythm, introduces them to classical composers, teaches them how to play tunes on the keyboard and all while they are having fun but being guided by someone who actually knows what they are doing.

The boys love it.  They each have a login and I can control all the settings.  I can set the software so the boys must complete the learning component before they have free reign to dabble, improvise and explore.Let me give you a quick tour around the program.  First there’s the lesson room:

Here a classical composer shares a little bit of one of his pieces with you before moving on to review past content and present the new concept.

Then there’s the practise room:

Here your teacher gives you tasks to review and practise the new and old content.  She also listens to a snippet of classical music at the beginning of her lesson and tells you a little about it.

Then you have the games room:

More and more games are made accessible as you progress through the lessons.  The games that are available in the first lessons increase in requirements as you learn more content.

Then there’s the improvisation room:

My boys love this room.  It allows them to dabble on the keyboard and record their compositions.  They can also save their compositions in the library to listen to at a later date.Finally there’s the library room:

Here you can find all sorts of information.  You can listen to your compositions, listen to the music of various composers or find specific lessons to go back to from the software.

This is a description of only the first cd rom.  There are two other cd roms in the series.  I don’t own these yet but will definitely be purchasing them later in the year to make sure they are on my shelves ready to go when the time comes.

The software itself isn’t cheap to purchase and we did have to purchase a midi keyboard (a computer plug in keyboard) in order to use the software but just these two things were less expensive than a term of music lessons or a bunch of curriculum I rarely used.   I truly think it’s well worth the money.   It has been a sanity saver in our home and my boys both love it.


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Posted by on February 4, 2009 in Music