“Every Mile Mattered” by Nichole Nordeman~enter to win! Ends 8/8/17

Did you know that the amazing Nichole Nordeman has a new CD? FlyBy/Propeller Promotions very kindly sent me her newest, Every Mile Mattered, to review and even better, one to give away to a reader!


I’ve noticed that artists–whether they’re songwriters and musicians, or painters or poets–are able to put our deepest longings and thoughts into forms that we can see and hear.  I’ve always thought that Nichole Nordeman is especially gifted at accomplishing this through her words and compositions.  And Every Mile Mattered doesn’t disappoint; Again, Nordeman has spun songs into being that are full of words and feelings that certainly we’ve all felt, or that existed just beyond our ability to think or touch.

Have you ever looked back on your life and thought, “ugh! I wish I hadn’t made that choice!” or, “what was I thinking??”  Then you’ll be especially blessed by the title track, Every Mile Mattered.  You’ll be touched by Nichole’s and (I think this must be her daughter) Pepper’s redux of Slow Down, from her previous CD The Unmaking (which I highly, highly recommend).  Need an encouragement to still and rebuke those unkind thoughts that tell us we can’t do it?  Listen to Sound of Surviving.  And whether you grew up in Tornado Alley or not, you’ll clearly picture the storms and the victory over them in Anywhere We Are.

And then there’s Dear Me, the ode to younger Nichole (and, if I might be so bold to guess, the younger all of us) from a wiser and older perspective.  And the melodious and beautiful You’re Here, which reminds us that we are NEVER alone; that He is always here with us.

Here are some reasons why you’re going to love this CD:

These words from the title track:

Every road and every bend
Every bruise and bitter end
All you squandered, all you spent
It mattered, it mattered

Or what about these, from You’re Here?

You were at the altar, preacher’s hand upon my head
You were in the water, when I came up clean intead
You’re still in my story, when my tears fall upon the dirt
You’re there in the morning, wrapping grace around what hurts



Some of the sweetest words to my heart were these, from Dear Me:

Dear Me…
You did not learn this in a day or two or three
So ask a lot of questions
But Jesus loves us, this I know
And there are no exceptions

I guess I could say that really, I could write some of Nichole’s beautiful words from every single song on this album, and you would love them.  But these are just a sweet taste for you of what you’ll hear in Every Mile Mattered.


Just like Nichole’s last CD, The Unmaking was for me, I believe that her newest CD is destined to become a new favorite.  I need its reminders!  (Even if I do always want to ugly-cry when I listen to Slow Down.  I mean ugly-sob!  How did my boy get so big so fast?)

I need to remember that in the tapestry of my life, when all I can see are the knots and clumps of color on the back side, that God is making something beautiful out of every stitch on the front side.  That He’s using every step I take, every decision, every word, every thought and action, to create my life that has meaning in His eyes.

And if I can do this while listening to one of my favorite artists and to beautiful music?  Perfect.

And now…the giveaway!

One reader will be blessed to win a CD copy of Every Mile Mattered.  Just click on the pink Enter Here! below and you’ll be able to enter to win via the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Best wishes to you all!

Enter here!


Also, you can visit Nichole on social media:

Official website – http://nicholenordeman.com

Buy links – ITunes http://capcmg.me/emm?IQid=b
Spotify http://capcmg.me/emm.sp
Amazon http://capcmg.me/emm.am)

In addition, Nichole Nordeman’s book Slow Down will be available for purchase in August!  You may pre-order here:

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Your Chance to Win Laura Story’s new CD “Open Hands” (ends 3/22)

Are you a fan of worship music?  If you are, you’ll love Laura Story’s new CD, Open Hands.  Flyby/Propeller Promotions sent me a copy of this lovely new music to review…plus one to give away to a reader!



Laura Story…

Do you know Laura Story?  Sometimes, you can hear and love songs but have no idea whom they’ve come from.  This is my experience with Laura—until Open Hands, anyway!  You probably know the song “Indescribable,” it was recorded by both Chris Tomlin and Laura Story.  What about “Mighty to Save”–that’s another of my faves.  Her song “Blessings” won song of the year in 2012.  So obviously, Laura is a talented songwriter.  But, that’s not all that she has done!  Laura has led worship at Perimeter Church in Atlanta for 12 years.  She has won a Grammy Award; a Billboard Music Award; several Dove Awards; and even an RIAA Gold certification!  All this since 2008, when she published her first album.  She is even the author of a couple of books, about navigating life through hard moments or seasons while hanging on to God’s hand.

These are her, admittedly, impressive public accomplishments.  In her private life, she’s the wife of Martin Elvington, and they’ve had three kiddos together.  But the struggles they’ve experienced since her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor have provided the inspiration for the songs of her two most recent albums.  How do you live when God doesn’t fix things?  Laura has learned that keeping “open hands” — translated as keeping a loose hold on things & trusting that God’s got it, not holding them tightly and seeking to control them, are just what God may be asking of us.  She says, “I wanted to make an album so that each song I write would be just that seed of hope or that lifeline that someone listens to during that tough moment and thinks, ‘I’m going to choose to trust God, even during this.’”


What you’ll find in the songs

Open Hands contains 11 beautiful, thoughtful songs.  Some of them are familiar hymns with new bridges or choruses added, like “Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)” or “For the Love of My King,” which takes from and adds to the old hymn “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”  Reimagined for a new audience, both of these take the vital truths and compositions of the original words and music and add personal vignettes of praise and struggle.  They’re just as beautiful and worshipful as the originals, and I truly enjoyed the new versions.

Story shares the hopes of motherhood in “Give You Faith.”  What do we wish for our children?  What would we desire most to give them?  That they will have faith, and hope, but most of all the love that God has for them, that will never let them go.

In this most contentious of post-election years, Story’s “Grace Abounds” reminds us that in the darkness, in the trials, when we see hatred or terror in news stories; when it seems that there is no hope at all, that God IS there.

I have several favorites on this album; I love the songs I mentioned above.  But one of my best-loved is the song the CD starts with:  “Death Was Arrested.”  You might not imagine that this song is about the Prodigal Son, but it is…even as it’s about us as well!  I am so moved by these words (and the music is perfectly suited to them):

“Ash was redeemed only beauty remains…
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began…”

You’ll also find these songs:

  • The song from the title, “Open Hands”
  • “You Came Running,” the story of what God does when our dreams crash down around us
  • “Whisper,” where Story talks about how we can wait to hear His voice
  • “Every Word You Breathe:” we’ll cling to Him and His word, not our experiences or things we’re familiar with
  • “Majesty” reminds us all that God really is
  • “Extraordinary,” about God’s extraordinary love for us

My thoughts

Open Hands is a rich, beautiful, worshipful experience.  We’ve listened to it many times as a family; during morning times when we’re preparing for the day and getting breakfast made and eaten.  We’ve played it in the afternoons when school is over; and in the evenings during quiet moments.  I can honestly say that each time we’ve heard it I’ve loved it more.  The music and words are both contemplative; Story’s not trying to write the next top-10 worship hit.  Rather, she’s writing about the God that she sees showing up over and over in her life (and others’ lives); the God whose grace really is big enough; and the worship He deserves from us all.

Open Hands will bless you; encourage you; and help you to see God in all the portions of our lives.  Get a copy of this CD.  Play it during your quiet times; when you take your children to appointments; as you move through your daily life and tasks.  It will really speak to your heart!

And, you can enter this giveaway to win Open Hands below!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has generously provided a CD of Open Hands for one of our readers!  Just click on the pink “Enter here” to go to the Giveaway Tools form to enter.  Giveaway closes on 3/22/17.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

Check out more on Open Hands via social media:

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/OpenHandsiTunes


Video links:
Open Hands (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/AABE–YR1No
Open Hands (Song Devotional) – https://youtu.be/NWWiyFlXdi0

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Kari Jobe’s “The Garden” CD ~ Review & Giveaway (Ends 2/15/17)

Recently my family had the pleasure of enjoying Kari Jobe’s newest worship CD entitled The Garden.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions provided a copy of the CD for us to review, and also one copy to give away to one of you!



Where do you go for help, for relief, when you’re in a time of struggle or suffering?  Of course, we know that we need to go to God.  You can look at the Bible’s book of Psalms and know that crying out to God is one of the first things that David and the other psalmists did.  (They’re also extremely honest about what they’re feeling, but I think that’s another post!)

Sometimes, though, the struggle or the suffering goes on after, sometimes long after, we have cried out.  How do we hang onto God when the loss is still there, when our circumstances are still challenging our hearts and lives, when the hope we’d like to feel isn’t really there?


Those psalmists amaze me.  How many times do they cry out to God about the struggle, but then they end with, “But I will worship the Lord.”  “I will wait patiently for Him.”  What an encouragement that can be–that He is still God even as we are trying to hang onto Him in troubles.

I’ve found that worship music can be another incredible encouragement to me; not only in times of struggle, but in times of joy, happiness, or just normal life.  Kari Jobe’s new CD The Garden is a beautiful and meditative collection of songs (written or co-written by and all sung by Kari) about reaching out to God.  About desiring Him, about our cry for hope and His love in the midst of sorrow, about His presence.  The Garden contains 14 songs that will encourage your soul; comfort your heart; and help you focus on the Lord.


the-garden-1The Songs

Kari Jobe’s family underwent a great loss.  When Kari and her sister were both pregnant, her sister’s pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of her baby girl, James Ivy.  In the grieving and heartache Kari and her family went through, she learned that God is there.  That He never left.  That His love is with us always.  And these songs were born out of the pain and the struggle they walked.  In the home Kari and her husband (and son) bought and moved into, the garden was overgrown and they’d been advised to just let it grow for a year.  And one day she walked outside and looked at the messy growth.  And she saw ivy; full, lush, fresh growth.  She remembered immediately her precious niece, James Ivy.  Kari said, “Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”

The Garden contains 14 beautiful songs, including:

  • “The Garden”
  • “Let Your Glory Fall”
  • “Lover of My Soul”
  • “Closer To Your Heart”
  • “The Cause of Christ”
  • “Here As In Heaven”
  • and more

How our family enjoyed this

We’ve enjoyed Kari Jobe’s singing and her worship songs for some time.  We were so excited to hear this new album!  My husband has listened to it in his car, and we’ve played the CD in our home during family worship and just on our regular homeschool days, at mealtimes or when we’ve finished school.  We’ve all enjoyed it so much.

There is so much in the lyrics that speaks to our hearts.  Kari’s singing is both peaceful and beautiful, as are the musical arrangements.  It is a wonderful reminder that God is there.  That He is loving us, shepherding us through our troubles and sorrows; but also through the good times.  That He is faithful.  And that He is worthy.

Here’s one particular portion of the first song, The Garden, that is so sweet and meaningful to me:

“Then I saw the garden, hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realized You never left
And for this moment You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green…”

Because we’ve all been there, haven’t we?  In the times of suffering and sorrow.  Wondering if God was there; if He heard us; if He was listening.  We just can’t always see it…but He’s never left us to face things alone.



There’s much more beauty and encouragement in the rest of this album.

I so recommend it.  If you’d like a beautiful new worship CD; if you need the reminder that God loves you and is there; if you need comfort in your struggles.  You can click through the social media links below to purchase it.

And, you can enter my giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of The Garden!  Just enter below at the pink link, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry page.  Giveaway ends February 15, 2017.  Blessings!


Enter here!


The Garden on social media:

Enjoy!  –Wren
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

“25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation” ~ A Review & Giveaway

Keep reading and enter to win below!

**Affiliate links included.**

Last fall, I had the privilege of reviewing Gena Mayo’s wonderful curriculum, 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation Course.  My son and I thoroughly enjoyed the course.  And this year, Gena has published another fantastic course, this time teaching about music from two other continents:  25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation.  I’m excited to share this course, and our experiences, with you.  And Gena is even providing one lucky reader with his or her very own copy of this curriculum…plus a discount code for you to use if you don’t win!


What is 25 Lesson20th-cent-eurosa-banners in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation?

Gena Mayo is a trained musician who’s also the homeschooling mother of eight children.  She teaches her own children as well as others in homeschool coop classes.  Gena and I “met” while serving on the TOS Review Crew, when I discovered that not only did Gena review homeschool curricula well, she also wrote delightful and user-friendly music appreciation curricula!  Her latest, 25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation, provides homeschoolers (whether they’re musically-trained…or especially, if they’re not) with a wonderful resource to teach about the dramatic and fascinating musical movements and changes of the 20th century.

With this curriculum, you and your children will learn about, and hear the music of, 25 musical greats of the 20th century, ranging from the more-familiar:

  • Giacomo Puccini, from Italy
  • Maurice Ravel, from France
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff and and Sergei Prokofiev, from Russia
  • Bela Bartok, of Hungary
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, of England

to the less well-known (to the American palate, anyway), such as:

  • Aram Khachaturian from Soviet Armenia
  • Alberto Ginastera, of Argentina
  • Heitor Villa Lobos of Brazil
  • Manuel De Falla, from Spain
  • and even the British invasion!

How does this curriculum work…do I need to be a musician to teach it?

Now, perhaps that list seems intimidating.  How would you even know what to teach about these composers; what is important about them; and how would you go about finding examples of their best works and compositions?

Gena Mayo has taken care of all of that for you!  You absolutely do not have to be a musician, or even musical, to teach this.  25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation is an online course which can be printed.  (In fact, that’s what we did; I printed a copy for a folder that I used in lesson planning, while we kept the digital copy saved on the computer to access the musical links.)  In it, she has devoted a section to each of the 25 composers included here.  For each one, she shares defining details of his life, famous compositions, important dates, and how the composer impacted the era he lived in and composed for.  Best of all, she has included online links to YouTube performances of some of the composers’ best works.  (Gena does recommend that parents preview each performance prior to showing it to their students.  We all know that the Internet can change quickly!)

25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation could easily be used in either a coop class or at home with just a few students.  It can be used for all ages, and can provide 1/2 credit when taught to high school students.  The curriculum even includes an excellent appendix, full of links to great music sites, additional books or other music resources, a list of further composers to study, and excellent notebooking pages for music observation.  Gena even includes short descriptions of various music theory here and there!


eurosa-pic-1How we enjoyed it

I love the questions that the author answers–and asks–with this curriculum.  What is impressionistic music–and how does it connect with the art movement of impressionism?  How did national identity influence a composer?  Did a composer write both music and words to an opera—and why, or why not?  Because of her extensive musical training, Gena knows and shares information that the average (unmusical) person might not think to ask.

We began with Puccini, whose contributions were primarily in the world of opera.  Two of the three Puccini performances Gena linked to were incredibly familiar to me (and I didn’t even enjoy opera, until recently!); however, if I’d had to tell you their names I’d have failed utterly.  The performances were—and I’m really not exaggerating here—sublime.

I wasn’t personally looking forward to hearing Gustav Mahler’s work; I really hadn’t enjoyed much of what I’d heard of his over the years.  Was I ever surprised to discover that he did actually compose some beautiful, uplifting music!

And then, there was Debussy.  And Sibelius; a hymn you might never have known he composed.  And then, a lovely section on musical theater, featuring the compositions of Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, and others.  And, so much more!  The links feature everything from historical presentations, to symphonies, to single arias…even a Google Doodle.  The range of talent and type, even above the musical performances themselves, keep a student’s interest level and enjoyment high.

My son and I had very different reactions to the various musicians presented in this course; while we both just loved hearing the presentations and learning about the musicians, we preferred different types of music.  And Gena included so many!  I have a choral background; Jackson has never been interested in choir but has played piano for years and enjoys orchestral and piano music primarily.  So I adored the vocal performances (I’d never have imagined that I’d come to appreciate opera), while he thoroughly enjoys the symphonic and orchestral.  Yet regardless of our preferences, we were exposed to the wide range of musical styles and movements of the 20th century, from European and South American artists.

Music Appreciation Curriculum: 25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music

If you’ve been looking for a genuinely wonderful music appreciation course–that you yourself can teach–look no further!

Where can you purchase this?

Simply visit the I Choose Joy store!  You can purchase 25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation there (as well as Gena’s other wonderful music curricula).  The regular price is $39, but Gena is having a sale through next Friday (9/30/16), and you can purchase it for only $29!  It is worth every penny.  🙂

Music Appreciation Curriculum: 25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music

And now…the giveaway!

Gena Mayo has provided one copy of 25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation, that one reader will be blessed with!  Simply enter the Giveaway Tools entry form below for your chance to win.  Giveaway closes on Friday, September 30, 2016.


Enjoy–and best wishes!  –Wren
Disclaimer:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Giveaway & Review: PASSION Salvation’s Tide Is Rising Album

I’ve got another wonderful #FlyBy Promotions giveaway for you today!

PASSION Salvation's Tide BannerHave you heard of The Passion Movement?

The Passion Movement, birthed by Louis Giglio of Atlanta’s Passion City Church, exists to bring students together in the worship of God.  These meetings of students aged 18-25 occur, often in arenas, along with worship leaders and musicians.  And out of these meetings have come amazing albums of worship and praise (you’ve probably heard “Holy Is the Lord” and “How Great Is Our God,” both from Passion).

The newest Passion album

My family and I just received their newest worship album: Passion: Salvation’s Tide Is Turning.  This CD was recorded in studio (they’re normally recorded at the student arena events); while that gives it a slightly different sound, fans of Passion and the modern worship music movement will appreciate it.

Songs include:

  • Salvation’s Tide
  • My Victory 
  • God and God Alone
  • I Turn to Christ
  • Surrender
  • Good Good Father
  • and more!

Each of these songs features worship recording artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill, Crowder, Christy Nockels, Melodie Malone and Brett Younker.

How we used this album

Our family enjoys having favorite worship CDs playing in the background as we move about our days.  This CD seems very meditative in nature; it’s something that would be great to listen to while journaling, painting or drawing, or just sitting quietly.

We also really liked listening to it in the car.  You know, sometimes the roads you drive aren’t that peaceful or beautiful; but I loved the calm and gentle worship songs playing as I drove.

I really enjoyed My Victory, Remember, and I Turn to Christ.  But probably my top fave is Chris Tomlin’s God and God Alone!  I actually thought when I saw the title that it was another song, pre-2000, but this one is brand-new.

The worship music here is pure, directed at God, and truly expresses so many things we might feel.  There ARE times we’re in the desert.  But God promises to be there, even if we can’t see Him or feel Him at every moment.  He is good—and this CD will help draw you into His presence and remind you of that!

I also wanted to mention that Passion: Salvation’s Tide Is Turning debuted on this month  at #1 on the iTunes Christian Albums chart, like many of its Passion predecessors before it!  And you can win your very own CD of this awesome album!

Just enter below on the Rafflecopter.  This giveaway ends 1/21/16.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


Maestro Classics’ “Peter and the Wolf” ~ A TOS Review

Have you found some excellent resources to teach classical music to your children, or in your homeschool?

Maestro Classics Banner

Recently, my family and I received Maestro ClassicsPeter and the Wolf to review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  This CD created especially for children is a gentle and lovely introduction to the world of classical music…and much more!

What is Maestro Classics?

Maestro Classics is a company which is devoted to exceptional music education for children; especially classical music.  Company creators Stephen and Bonnie Simon, a conductor and a music educator, respectively, noticed a number of years ago that there just wasn’t much on the market for children that presented classical music in a kid-friendly way…while still  maintaining the excellence of world-class orchestras.

So, they created Maestro Classics, and since the company’s founding, they’ve produced many different symphonies as well as musical accompaniments to classic children’s literature.  The CDs include the symphonies themselves, friendly narrations along with the symphonies’ stories, extra musical performances, and biographies of the composers.


Maestro Pic 2What is Peter and the Wolf?

I suspect that you’ve heard of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and his famous children’s symphony, Peter and the Wolf.  Written in 1936, it is the story of a young boy who wanders outside the garden gate, leaving it open.  The family’s duck wanders out, and, despite his grandfather’s admonition to stay at home, Peter heads to the woods.  There, he meets a wolf.  The story also involves a bird, a cat, some hunters, and a zoo.  The symphony tells the story of Peter and what happens to him, and all the other characters!


Maestro pic 1What’s included in this Maestro Classics CD?

This CD contains a wonderful musical productions, all centered around Peter and the Wolf. But that’s not all!  You’ll also find recordings of:

  • A Peter and the Wolf production, accompanied by a narrator who tells what’s happening in the story
  • A biography of Sergei Prokofiev
  • An instrumental-only production of the symphony, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Russian compositions, performed by the Russian Trio Voronezh
  • and more!

In addition, there is a beautifully-illustrated 24-pgae booklet which has activities for children, more about Prokofiev, descriptions of Russian traditional musical instruments, and other musical information that’s quite interesting.  And, it has absolutely charming art scattered throughout, like the photograph of the folk art creations above!


Maestro Pet curricA special curriculum download PDF is also available.  It is a well-crafted unit study that contains lessons on history, science, music, art, and language arts.  We especially enjoyed working with the Russian alphabet, reading about Prokofiev’s history and the times he lived in, and the art activities.  For anyone who’d like a short unit to go along with this music CD, it’s interesting and well-done.


Maestro Pic 5How we used these products:

My son and I both enjoy classical music.  He is a piano student, and yet somehow we’d never listened to Peter and the Wolf together!  We listened to half of the CD one afternoon, then another afternoon we listened to the entire CD again while we worked on some of the activities in the PDF download.  We also read a bit about the life of Prokofiev.


Maestro pic 8

What we thought about Maestro Classics’ Peter and the Wolf

All of the productions on the CD (which also is available in an mp3) are both fun and interesting.  The London Philharmonic Orchestra does an incredible job with this symphony.  I liked the narration that explained the story of Peter (and the wolf).  We also  really enjoyed the additional performances by Trio Voronezh.

The PDF curriculum is fantastic.  Both homeschooling families, as well as those who don’t homeschool, will find it usable.  One of our favorite parts was listening to the music while painting a picture in the style of Kandinsky (one of the recommended activities in the PDF).

I think this production will be enjoyed greatly by all children; and parents will love it too!

In conclusion:

You may purchase Peter and the Wolf at Maestro Classics, along with many other wonderful symphonies, made just for children.  I recommend these highly for any family who’s looking to add music to their home!

Visit Maestro Classics at their social media sites, for more information!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaestroClassics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaestroClassics
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/maestroclassics/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/maestroclassics


Maestro Classics Review Crew Disclaimer

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation Course ~ A Review

*Affiliate links are included in this post.*

What do you use in your homeschool to teach music appreciation?

Are you a trained musician, who finds it simple to teach about musical eras, composers, and styles?  (I am not, by the way!)

21 Lessons for 20th Century American Music Appreciation

I have to admit that I love music. And, that I spent years in choir, both at school and at church.

But I have never felt that I was particularly equipped to teach about music.  So you can imagine how happy I was to review 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation!  I received a free copy of this wonderful curriculum from Gena Mayo to review.  What a lovely experience it has been!

Gena has solved my difficulty in teaching about music completely….and has created a music appreciation curriculum that is both a joy and a delight to use!  21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation is a beautiful tool for homeschoolers (or even music or homeschool coop teachers) everywhere who’d like to add a course on the musical fine arts to their learning times with children.  It’s designed to be used for students all the way from K-12.

What is 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation?

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation is a fascinating, user-friendly curriculum which covers American music in the twentieth century.  In each of the 21 chapters, Gena introduces students to a particular composer or music style.  She tells us a little about the composer (or the musical style), and what was happening in America during his time.  And then, the most exciting part; Gena has linked to YouTube performances of the composers’ famous works….and podcasts about them as well!  (Gena does recommend that parents always check the YouTube and Internet links before playing them for children; as we all know, links can change without notice.)  She also includes snippets of what was going on historically in America, so that students can understand how musical themes and history influenced each other.

Here is just a short list of the wonderful composers and works you’ll be studying with 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation:

  • Scott Joplin and Fats Waller
  • The Blues
  • Marches
  • Folk Opera and Classical Opera
  • Big Band
  • Aaron Copland
  • Musical Theater
  • and so much more!

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation

How we used 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation:

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation is arranged chronologically, so that you start at the end of the 19th century and move chapter by chapter to post-1965 musical theater.  And Gena really has made this curriculum so simple and easy to use.  I printed a copy of the curriculum for myself, to keep in a folder so that I could see at a glance what we’d be covering in a given week.  But this was really just a reference tool for me.  The course itself is an ebook, so once it’s purchased you can save it on your computer.  This is what you really want to do, because of the multiple links in each chapter that take you to the YouTube performances of each musical piece.  (You can utilize this curriculum on both your computer or iPad.)

So, we started with Gena’s first chapter, which is about John Philip Sousa.  Of course, most of us will probably associate Sousa with bands and marches.  But Gena included more fascinating information about him that I’d never known.  And the musical performances!  I was astonished.  Several of them were compositions which were familiar to me, but I’d never known that Sousa was the composer!

I read aloud to my son the information about the composer, and then we followed the links to each of the compositions/performances included with the composer.  We listened to the music together.  The entire chapter took about 20 minutes from start to finish.  And it was so enjoyable–as well as informative!

In addition, Gena has included notebooking pages for students in the curriculum, so that they can record facts about both the composer and the musical pieces themselves.

Our conclusions:

My son Jackson is in the 8th grade, and he has taken piano since he was in kindergarten.  And he is definitely a music lover.  But honestly, he’d never learned about any of the music we’ve found in 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation.  When we listened to the compositions together, we were just delighted with the music–our feet were really tapping!  And it’s not just the compositions themselves that are fantastic.  The YouTube videos of top-notch musicians performing these pieces are just a pleasure to watch.

Here’s what Jackson had to say about it:

“I liked it very much!  And I loved hearing that music for the first time.  It is very good!”

As for myself, I couldn’t have selected a simpler or more enjoyable music appreciation curriculum.  It truly is one of the easiest curricula I’ve ever taught—even without having a strong musical history background.  The compositions Gena chose to go with this curriculum (the ones you’ll link to in each chapter) are so vibrant, beautiful, and professionally done.  You really sense as you move through the curriculum that Gena has not only a deep love for music, but for teaching young people about music.  I love her gentle manner of teaching.  It makes the entire experience truly wonderful.

So…where can you find this wonderful music appreciation program?

Gena Mayo, the author of 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation, has priced this curriculum at $25.  (It’s a simple download, so you won’t have to pay for shipping.)

But for the month of August, she’s offering the 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation at 50% off, or only $12.50!  You can simply click on the banner below to go to the purchase page.  Just use the code August50 to get 50% off!

Both Jackson and I happily recommend 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation.  It is a joy and a delight….especially for the busy homeschool mom who already has many subjects to teach!

Be sure to visit Gena at her amazing blog, I Choose Joy.  You’ll be encouraged!

Enjoy!  –Wren

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