More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know

More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know
Continuing our exploration of lesser-known classical composers, we embark on another journey of musical discovery, uncovering hidden gems that enrich the homeschooling curriculum with diverse sounds and stories. While the names of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven (to name a few) resonate throughout history, these composers, though less celebrated, have made significant contributions to the world of classical music. Here are five more composers every homeschooling parent should introduce to their children, expanding their horizons and nurturing their appreciation for the arts. If you're interested in learning more about these composers (including resources for use with your children), check out The Classical Collective Membership!

1. Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Louise Farrenc was a pioneering French composer, virtuoso pianist, and influential music educator whose works showcase a mastery of form, melody, and expression. Despite facing gender-based discrimination in the male-dominated music world of the 19th century, Farrenc's compositions earned her acclaim and respect among her peers. Farrenc's chamber music, symphonies, and piano works highlight her innovative use of classical forms and her bold harmonic language. Explore Farrenc's advocacy for gender equality in music education and her lasting impact as a composer and pedagogue.

2. William Grant Still (1895-1978)
William Grant Still was a pioneering African-American composer whose music defied racial barriers and stereotypes to embrace a diverse range of styles and influences. Often referred to as the "Dean of African-American composers," Still's compositions blend elements of jazz, blues, spirituals, and classical tradition, creating a rich and vibrant musical tapestry. Introduce your children to Still's orchestral suites, operas, and chamber works, exploring themes of identity, heritage, and social justice. Discuss Still's groundbreaking achievements as the first African-American composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra and his enduring legacy as a trailblazer for diversity in classical music.

3. Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Ethel Smyth was a pioneering English composer, suffragist, and writer whose music and activism left an indelible mark on British cultural history. Smyth's compositions encompass a wide range of genres, from operas and chamber music to choral works and symphonies. Introduce your homeschoolers to Smyth's operas, including "The Wreckers" and "Der Wald," which showcase her dramatic flair, lyrical melodies, and feminist themes. Explore Smyth's role as a leading figure in the suffragette movement, using her music as a vehicle for social change and women's rights.

4. Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
Joaquín Rodrigo was a Spanish composer whose music captured the spirit and beauty of his native land, blending Spanish folk melodies with classical forms and techniques. Despite losing his sight at an early age, Rodrigo's compositions are marked by their vibrant colors, evocative harmonies, and lyrical melodies. Introduce your children to Rodrigo's guitar concertos, such as the famous "Concierto de Aranjuez," which showcase his mastery of the instrument and his deep connection to Spanish musical traditions. Learn about Rodrigo's life story, his collaborations with renowned guitarists, and his enduring legacy as one of the most beloved composers of the 20th century.

5. Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Rebecca Clarke was a pioneering British composer and violist whose music defied norms and conventions to achieve recognition and acclaim. Clarke's compositions blend elements of Romanticism, Impressionism, and modernism, creating a distinctive and expressive musical language. Introduce your homeschoolers to Clarke's chamber music, including her hauntingly beautiful viola sonata and piano trio, which showcase her lyrical melodies, lush harmonies, and inventive structures. Discuss Clarke's struggles for recognition in a male-dominated field, her contributions to the repertoire for viola, and her lasting impact on 20th-century music.

By introducing your children to these five lesser-known classical composers, you can open the door to a world of musical discovery, cultural enrichment, and artistic inspiration. Embrace the diversity of voices and stories that enrich the tapestry of classical music, fostering curiosity, empathy, and creativity in your homeschoolers. So, embark on a journey of exploration and celebration, uncovering hidden gems that will illuminate your homeschool curriculum and leave a lasting impression on your family for generations to come. If you're interested in learning more about these composers and others, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

6 Expert Tips for Teaching Music at Home with Confidence

6 Expert Tips for Teaching Music at Home with Confidence
In the realm of home education, teaching music can feel like a daunting task, especially for moms who may not consider themselves musically inclined. However, with the right approach, any parent can become an effective music teacher for their kids. If you're a mom who feels like her kids are more musically inclined than you are, fear not!

Here are six expert tips to help you navigate the world of music education at home with confidence (from a music teacher mama):

  1. Embrace Your Role as a Guide: Your musical journey with your children begins by understanding that you don't need to be a virtuoso. Think of yourself as a guide, introducing your children to the world of music, helping them explore different genres and exposing them to new songs, providing support and encouragement and showing them you are learning along the way with them.
  2. Start with the Basics: Begin by laying a solid foundation in music theory, covering essential elements such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. Engage your children with interactive games, fun songs, and hands-on activities to make learning enjoyable and effective. Don't know where to begin with that? Check out the Classical Collective Membership for resources.
  3. Make Use of Resources: Leverage the wealth of resources available online to support music education at home. From interactive tutorials and educational apps to lessons and community music groups, there's something for every age and skill level. These resources can enrich your children's learning experience and provide valuable support for you as a parent-teacher.
  4. Encourage Creativity: Nurture your children's creative expression through music by encouraging them to compose their own songs, experiment with different instruments, and even craft homemade musical instruments from household items. Emphasize the joy of exploration and self-expression, fostering a love for music that goes beyond rote learning.
  5. Lead by Example: Set a positive example for your children by actively engaging with music in your daily life, showing them you are also a lifelong learner! Listen to a variety of musical genres together, sing and dance, read them songtales, attend live performances, and demonstrate that music is something to be enjoyed and celebrated as a family together.
  6. Be Patient and Persistent: Above all, remember that learning music is a journey that requires patience and persistence. Celebrate your children's progress, no matter how small, and encourage them to persevere through challenges. By fostering a supportive and nurturing environment, you can inspire a lifelong passion for music in your children.

    Teaching music at home can be a rewarding experience for both you and your children, regardless of your musical background. By embracing your role as a guide, starting with the basics, utilizing resources, encouraging creativity, leading by example, and maintaining patience and persistence, you can instill a lifelong love of music in your children and grow your own skill and confidence along the way. So, don't hesitate to start this musical adventure together and discover the joy of making music at home!

Exploring Hidden Gems: 5 Lesser-Known Composers Every Homeschooling Parent Should Know

Exploring Hidden Gems: 5 Lesser-Known Composers Every Homeschooling Parent Should Know
As homeschooling parents, one of the joys of educating our children is the opportunity to explore lesser-known facets of history, culture, and the arts. While the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Strauss (to name a few famous composers) are undeniably influential, there exists a treasure trove of lesser-known classical composers whose contributions are equally deserving of recognition. Here, we touch briefly on the lives and music of five hidden gems that every homeschooling parent should discover, enriching their children's educational journey with diverse sounds and stories. If you're interested in learning more about these composers and others, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

1. Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Clara Schumann was not only a virtuoso pianist but also a gifted composer whose works are celebrated for their emotional depth and technical brilliance. As one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, Clara's compositions offer a window into her inner world, marked by passion, longing, and resilience. Introduce your children to Clara's piano music, including her charming character pieces and poignant lieder compositions. Explore Clara's remarkable life as a pioneering female artist, navigating the challenges of love, motherhood, and artistic fulfillment in a male-dominated world.

2. Florence Price (1887-1953)
Florence Price was a trailblazing African-American composer whose music defied racial barriers and prejudice to leave an indelible mark on American classical music. Price's compositions blend elements of African-American spirituals, jazz, and European classical tradition, creating a unique and vibrant musical tapestry. Price's symphonies, piano concertos, and chamber music explore themes of identity, heritage, and social justice. Discuss Price's groundbreaking achievements as the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra, inspiring future generations of composers and performers.

3. Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)
Fanny Mendelssohn, the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn, was a remarkably talented composer whose gifts were overshadowed by the societal constraints placed on women in the 19th century. Despite facing obstacles to her musical career, Fanny left behind a wealth of exquisite compositions that deserve recognition and appreciation. Introduce your homeschoolers to Fanny's piano music, chamber works, and choral compositions, revealing her lyrical melodies, harmonic richness, and emotional depth. Explore Fanny's complex relationship with her family, her struggles for recognition as a composer, and her enduring legacy as a pioneer for women in music.

4. Amy Beach (1867-1944)
Amy Beach was a pioneering American composer whose music reflects the spirit of her time while breaking new ground in form and expression. As one of the first American women to achieve widespread recognition as a composer, Beach's works encompass a wide range of genres, from symphonic tone poems to intimate chamber music. Introduce your children to Beach's piano music, songs, and orchestral compositions, immersing them in her lush harmonies, evocative melodies, and inventive structures. Discuss Beach's role as a trailblazer for women in music and her contributions to the American classical tradition, inspiring future generations of composers and performers.

5. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer whose vivid orchestration, exotic harmonies, and evocative storytelling captivated audiences around the world. While Rimsky-Korsakov is known for his orchestral showpieces like "Scheherazade" and "Capriccio Espagnol," his contributions to Russian opera are equally noteworthy. Rimsky-Korsakov's operas highlight tales of magic, adventure, and folklore that showcase his mastery of melody and orchestral color. Discuss Rimsky-Korsakov's role in the Russian nationalist movement and his influence on subsequent generations of composers, shaping the course of future Russian classical music.

By introducing your children to these five lesser-known classical composers, you open the door to a world of musical discovery, cultural enrichment, and artistic inspiration. Embrace the diversity of voices and stories that enrich the tapestry of classical music, fostering curiosity, empathy, and creativity where otherwise you may not have heard of these fascinating musicians. And if you're interested in learning more about these composers and other lesser-known musicians, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

Playful Learning in Music Education: Unleashing Creativity with Unconventional Tools

Playful Learning in Music Education: Unleashing Creativity with Unconventional Tools
Playful Learning in Music Education: Unleashing Creativity with Unconventional Tools 🎶
In the world of music education, embracing a bit of playfulness can be the key to unlocking creativity and engagement. Step into my classroom, where the usual suspects of musical instruction take a back seat to some unexpected stars – googly eye rings, rubber chickens, and whirly toys. Let's dive into how these 3 unconventional tools infuse our lessons with excitement and bring out the best in our students:

1. Googly Eyes: The Improvisation Catalyst
When it comes to teaching improvisation, googly eye rings take center stage in my lessons and rehearsals. Improvisation can be intimidating, but these wiggly-eyed companions make it feel like a game. Students wear the googly eyes and take turns improvising, adding a lighthearted element to the process. It's amazing how a touch of whimsy can boost confidence and creativity in musical expression, allowing students to feel safe "behind" a puppet or guise of sorts as they try something more vulnerable like creating new tunes with their voice.
2. Rubber Chickens: Shaping Vowels for Beautiful Harmony
Creating a harmonious choral sound involves mastering vowel shapes. Enter the rubber chicken, our surprising ally in this endeavor. As students sing higher notes, we talk about vowel shapes and use our rubber chicken (affectionately named Drumstick by my middle schoolers!) as a visual reminder. Sometimes he participates in games as well... the sky is the limit!
3. Whirly Toys: Elevating Range and Tone Dynamics
Whirly helicopter toys take vocal exercises to a whole new level, literally! As students take turns during warm-ups making the whirly toy go high into the air, they follow it with their voice in a glissando. This helps students explore their vocal range and tone in a playful way so they aren't thinking about how high they are going, or shouting when they go higher. The visual element keeps them engaged!

Play in Learning: Where Hard Work is a Form of Play
Beyond the specific lessons, these unconventional tools contribute to an environment where play is embraced as a powerful learning tool. In our musical journey, hard work becomes play and play helps us achieve hard work. Each challenge transforms into an opportunity for discovery and growth. The unexpected elements brought by these tools encourage students to explore, take risks, and find joy in the process of making music.

What creative methods do you use to make music lessons engaging and fun for your students?

What is "Mystery Musician" and How I Implement it in my Choir Rehearsals

What is "Mystery Musician" and How I Implement it in my Choir Rehearsals
"Mystery Musician" is a term I came up for a way to implement a small piece of my classroom management system.

Can I just call out something I HATE about the modern educational movement? I HATE prize boxes and reward systems. There, I said it. BUT, that said, I do utilize one in a very rudimentary way that focuses on developing habits in my choir singers that I want to develop. In my experience, this has worked best for grades 3rd-7th, but you could likely adapt it for older or younger singers.

Read to the end for some winner items I've included in my "Mystery Musician" box that my students love, is NOT edible, and doesn't break the bank.

But first. What is the "Mystery Musican" and how do I use it?
A "Mystery Musician" is someone who...
  • Is organized. They have their materials (music folder and pencil) and come prepared to rehearsal if they were given a practice assignment.
  • Works hard. They use our time well during rehearsal.
  • Stays focused. He or she does not distract others during class but pays attention to what page we are on.
  • Helps others. If their neighbor doesn't know what page we are on or where I am at, they help them find their spot without causing others to get distracted.
  • Tells the story of the piece of music. They express emotions when they sing, making the audience feel happy, sad, or excited based on what we are singing. They use a smile or engaged face to draw the audience in!
  • Follow the leader. They follow their conductor's directions really well. It's important for everyone to listen and work together as a team!
  • Are curious! Mystery musicians are always learning. Their goal is to become even better singers! There is always something new to learn or discover.
There you have it! I reinforce these characteristics with my students during class by saying things like, "Wow, I see the mystery musician is sitting tall with eyes on the conductor, ready to see when she will start the piece." or maybe, "Thank you, mystery musician, for remembering to bring your music folder with you before class started! If you forgot yours, no biggie, go grab it from your bag after warm-ups are done."

This allows me to teach these habits to my singers without singling anyone out in either a positive or negative way -- and it keeps my students focused on what they are doing rather than what someone else did or didn't do. Many students may be demonstrating mystery musician traits that day, but I try to think of who that singer is as soon as they walk in the door. If that person doesn't really demonstrate these traits that day, I just pick someone else at the end of class who was and circle back around to that student another day.

So, do you do something similar in your classroom? If so, how is it similar or different to how I do it!

Oh! And bonus: 4 Winner Items I add to my box that students LOVE:
1) TINY duckies! I don't know why, but my students are OBSESSED with these cute little guys.
2) Cute erasers -- these are always a hit! I look for different ones each time I need a restock to change things up.
3) Music stickers -- can't get these anywhere else they know of (not in bulk!)
4) Jumping frog toys -- so simple, and so fun!

These have lasted my box YEARS, and I just add a new item or replenish a favorite item around once per year to change things up and keep it fresh. Cheap and fun!

Navigating Concert Week Chaos: A Music Teacher's Survival Kit

Navigating Concert Week Chaos: A Music Teacher's Survival Kit
Navigating Concert Week Chaos: A Music Teacher's Survival Kit

Concert week—the grand finale that puts on display our and our students' hard work! Yet, the journey to that moment can be a bit tumultuous at times. Fear not! Here's your shortcut to concert week success without losing your cool (and all your sleep that week).

Embrace Early Planning: Start early, plan wisely. Craft a roadmap with rehearsals, sectionals, and practice goals. I use this notebook to keep myself organized! Share the plan with students and parents for smooth preparation. Try to have deadlines in place earlier than you actually need those things completed in case you experience delays.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Ditch the solo act and delegate tasks to students or parent volunteers (this can feel so hard but be so rewarding! Students thrive when given responsibility appropriately). Whether it's setting up the venue, managing costumes, or handling backstage logistics, there's strength in numbers. A shared load eases the burden.

Organizational Magic: Master the art of organization. Utilize tools like spreadsheets and calendars to tame rehearsals, attendance, and communication chaos. I love using Attractwell for contacts, keeping organized, and sending info to students' families since I am self-employed. And don't try to remember it all on your own! Timers and to-do lists are my best friend.

Spread Positivity: In the midst of tension, sprinkle positivity -- laughter helps so much. Celebrate small victories and reassure students that their hard work is paying off. One of my greatest mentors' motto was, "Cheerful and flexible. If you can't be cheerful, be flexible. If you can't be flexible, be cheerful! And if you can be both... GREAT! Do that."

Strategic Rehearsals: Conduct smart rehearsals. Identify and prioritize challenging sections early in the week for a smoother performance. Talk less and sing/play more.

Create a Supportive Environment:
Amidst chaos, cultivate a supportive atmosphere. Encourage, uplift, and acknowledge the ensemble's hard work.

Self-Care is Essential: Don't forget yourself! Get rest, stay hydrated (without the caffeine that can hurt your voice -- this is my favorite go-to for non-caffinated energy), and take short breaks. Your well-being is crucial.

Master Communication: Keep everyone informed about schedule changes and expectations through emails, newsletters, and social media.

With early planning, teamwork, positivity, and self-care, you're not just surviving concert week; you're thriving. Embrace the excitement, enjoy the music, and make this week a crescendo of success. Cheers to the magical symphony you're about to create! 🎵

5 Music Teacher Tools that Will Blow Your Mind

5 Music Teacher Tools that Will Blow Your Mind
Here are 5 tools I use weekly as a Music Teacher that will blow your mind!

1) Hoberman Sphere! A fun toy that I use to work on deep breathing for singing (and works well to have a calm moment with a rowdy class if needed too!). I like to have students takes turns leading the group in how fast or slow we will take those breaths and pick someone breathing silently to go next.

2) A microphone! I like felt ones personally but have also used this sparkly one that my students love as well. Great for turn taking, a talking piece for classes that interrupt one another a lot, or solo moments. I use the Feierabend First Steps in Music with my younger classes, so there are lots of opportunities for solo singing!

3) Claves or another instrument that you can use to keep a steady beat. A great alternative to your voice, a metronome, or clapping! My middle schoolers love playing a game called Pass the Beat Around the Room while I keep the beat with the claves.

4) A new song resource, like this global music resource, for teaching new songs! I have SO many favorites -- should I do a blog post just of those?

5) Pitch Pipe! Very useful for anywhere you don't have a piano, to get a pitch quickly and accurately. My students think it sounds funny, but function over funny is my motto with this one. ;)

There you have it! I have so many toys and tools that I use all the time, should I do another post of more? What tools do you use all the time in your teaching? I'd love to hear!


Feel like you could use some direction in how to set up classes, how to price classes for your area and market them, or what to teach when? These topics and so much more we cover in 1-1 music leadership coaching! You can learn more about that here.