Wednesday, September 26, 2012

REVIEW: Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and CD Combo by Music Together

My family has been trying out the Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and CD Combo by Music Together.


Music Together® Family Favorites

 Music Together Family FavoritesSongbook for Teachers

Family Favorites Songbook
for Teachers


This companion songbook to the award-winning "Family Favorites" CD is designed especially for all those who work musically with children, whether in preschools, homeschool settings, early elementary classes, church groups, or clinical settings.

This songbook will show you how to create a musically rich environment where children learn to move rhythmically, to sing, and to develop listening and improvisation skills through playful, developmentally appropriate activities.

Each song is followed by “teacher pages” that outline suggested activities for a variety of settings. All song activities and teaching tips are based on the Music Together teaching practices which have been perfected over two decades by thousands of teachers, parents, caregivers, and children all around the world.

Music Together Family Favorites CDMusic Together Family Favorites CD

Music Together Family Favorites features nineteen (19) of the best-loved songs from the nine (9) Music Together song collections. This CD has won eleven awards including a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor award and includes a 32-page booklet with fun music-making activity suggestions for every song for use at home, in the car, or in the preschool classroom.

Listen to song samples

Download Individual Songs (MP3)

*  Buy CD with booklet - $14.95

*  Download Album (MP3) and booklet - $9.99
Music Together Family FavoritesCD and Songbook ComboMusic Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo

(Save $5 when you purchase the CD & songbook together!)  

You can save an additional $2 with code “SCHOOLHOUSE” at checkout.  

Let me start by saying that this combo pack is just plain fun!  I am using this with my 8 year old daughter, Haylee, and my 4.5 year old son, Holden.  I, too, am joining in on the fun of this with them!  Smile  This set really gets us moving and letting the music flow through us.  That being said, let’s look more closely at what exactly this is.

The Songbook for Teachers is broken down into 3 main sections.  The first section explains the Music Together approach…their philosophy, an explanation of the kinds of songs and activities included, tips on how to work with instruments and props, and suggested adaptations for children with special needs. 

The second section contains the sheet music for the 19 songs contained on the CD.  With each song sheet, there is an explanation of the song’s background along with suggested activities to work on with various ages. 

The third section is a reference section that gives information about the various Music Together programs offered for different age groups using licensed materials.

The Family Favorites CD itself comes in a tri-fold case and contains 19 fun songs for your children to enjoy.  Affixed in the center section of the case is a sturdy booklet that devotes a page to each song with detailed suggestions for activities and ways that kids can play along to the music with a variety of noise-making accompaniments.  The styles of music vary greatly, giving a broad exposure to different sounds.  The one common thread in most of the songs, though, is a distinctive rhythm that is easy for kids to pick up on.  This is the key, as this set is intended to be used with basic rhythm instruments.  Those can be actual instruments or homemade noise-makers, and either one works just fine with this.  Children are encouraged to listen for the rhythm and explore different ways to play along to the beat.  You can also use props such as scarves and parachutes as a means of moving to the music. 

Now for the fun part!  My kids simply adored this music.  We began each session with the “Hello” song where you insert your children’s names into the song as a way to welcome them into the session.  Then we’d select a couple of songs to listen to and pass out various rhythm instruments we happened to have lying around, such as maracas, rhythm sticks, triangle, tone block, sandpaper blocks, shakers, and jingle sticks (like tambourines).  We also happened to have colorful scarves from a music set I had around for the kids when they were toddlers.  We all got up and danced together and used our instruments to explore the beat of the music.  We ended each session with the “Goodbye” song, and we found this predictable method of beginning and ending each session was a great way to transition in and out of the lessons.  Otherwise, the kids could have danced and played all day! 

The suggested ways to dance and play along in the booklet contained in the CD were really great.  The instructions are clear and easy to follow.  My daughter, especially, loved to sing along to the songs using the sheet music contained in the teacher’s songbook.

I think what I liked best about this set is that the lessons (which I prefer to call sessions) are so largely unstructured.  Sometimes too much structure to this sort of thing saps out the fun that is naturally found in the music itself.  I love that it allowed my children to explore the sounds, sing, dance, and play along as they so desired without a right or wrong way to do it.  This made it less like the music classes I remember in public school and more like the fun we like to have at home in the free nature of our homeschool. 

I think the fact that they offer the music and accompanying booklet as a download for $9.95 is a great value.  Your family would have hours upon hours of enjoyment from just that item alone, and with the additional $2 discount using the code SCHOOLHOUSE, it’s a value that most everyone can afford. 

If you can afford to spring for the complete hard copy combo set, you won’t be disappointed.  You save $5 by purchasing the combo set over purchasing the items separately, plus the additional $2 discount I mentioned above. 

The bottom line is that this product is the “good stuff” that kids really enjoy and look forward to having as part of their school day.  We have been doing these sessions first thing in the morning after breakfast so the kids can get their wiggles out before we sit down to our schoolwork.  It’s a great way to start the day on a fun and positive note!

(Be forewarned if you have may notice lots of fluff on the carpet in the first few photos, along with my dog in the corner of one shot.  This is because my yellow lab went nuts barking and ripping stuffing out of her toy while we danced and played our instruments.  She did this every time we played!  I don't know if it was our lack of musical talent or the fact that we were dancing around like crazy people, but she sure joined in on the fun, too!  LOL)

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I received the combo set free of charge for review purposes, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the products.