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

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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.