I didn’t think we were a particularly musical family until I started writing this review and realised there’s actually quite a lot of music in our lives. While there’s no concert pianists among us, the twins adore singing in their school choir, dance twice a week and there was a recorder on their book list this year, so I gather that’s getting a workout in class.
This book then, is just right for them. And I’m sure it would also be appreciated by those from more musical families too. It’s structured to be just like a school, with teacher characters who pass on their passion for music and their knowledge in particular areas. And there’s loads packed in, with 40 lessons split over three chapters, or school terms.
The first term is about listening – learning about the many different kinds of music, what type of instruments are used and how they have evolved. There’s a fantastic filing cabinet illustration listing so many styles of music I had never heard of – Dubstep, Grime, Wangga – alongside the more popular styles, and encouraging readers to extend themselves by looking them up online.
Term 2 looks at musical language; how it’s written, the importance of rhythm, timing and melody. And chapter 3 is the fun stuff – how readers can make music, be it in a kitchen orchestra, singing, or learning a traditional instrument. And for parents forking out for music lessons, there’s a double-page spread on the importance of practising, including some tips.
This is a really informative book, presented in a fun, engaging way, with big, bold illustrations on every page. It’s a must-have for school libraries and home schoolers, and would be fun for parents to work through with kids who are interested in music.
The book comes with a QR code to download music samples, or you can look them up at www.schoolofmusic.online. This is actually pretty cool, because kids can hear what different instruments sound like, including some more unusual instruments. There’s also clips of different voices to show readers the difference between, for example, a soprano and a tenor.
The School of Music is written by Meurig and Rachel Bowen and illustrated by Daniel Frost, published by Wide Eyed Editions, March 2017, $29.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781847808608.