Symposium Review

Because I couldn’t think of more boring title for my favorite subject in school.

And that boom box is rad. Yes, as in radical. Like the 80s were.

Symposium has been THE BEST addition to our homeschool this last year. You can look here for a little back history if you want. But if you are like me and you don’t like to click things, the simple explanation goes like this: every morning we spent 20 minutes together listening to one or two pieces of classical music (once or twice, depending on how long they were) while we drew, colored, wrote, or just relaxed. By the end of the week the kids were humming along and singing classical music to themselves during the day. I focused on one composer for about 3 weeks at a time so we could get a feel for his music (no lady composers this time.)

Why has this been so amazing for us? I don’t know. Maybe classical music is just amazing and enhances and enriches your life? You know, maybe all those good, lovely, beautiful, praiseworthy, and soul fulfilling things are indeed, actually beneficial – even for children.

It made us happier. And it helped us calm down.

But it also woke us up and put us in a good mood and ready to take on the day!

(Except for when the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute sang, “The vengeance of hell boils in my heart.” Although a lovely piece of opera, by the end of the week, we were all kind of in a bad mood.)

Ok, but besides boiling vengeance and whatnot,  symposium was a blissful experience.

(Except for during Camille Saint Saens’ “Carnival of at the Animals.” It was just too hard not to get up and MOVE! I suppose it all started with Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” but after Saint Saens, I kind of felt like I lost control of the kids for awhile. Then it wasn’t so blissful.)

But “Hoe Down” (Aaron Copeland) isn’t meant to be blissful, so we didn’t even try on that one.

So… let’s just get the bad review part out of the way. In a world where I had perfect control of my kids all the time, and they could read my mind AND obey every thought with joy and thanksgiving, they would have quietly sat, soaked in the music, analyzed the different instrumental parts in their cute little minds, and created artistic masterpieces in their notebooks depicting life, love, joy, peace, charity, and their perfect love and appreciate for their mother.

I would just hang those little drawing all over my house!

But instead, like I mentioned, sometimes they got a little crazy. And sometimes they seriously annoyed me.

Seriously. Annoyed. Me.

So for next year I am going to apply two different techniques to make a wonderful experience (despite my being annoyed and them being crazy) even better.

  1. I’m going to buy them special symposium notebooks and markers, pencils, and pens. We just used crayons and college ruled spiral bound notebooks this time. Sometimes if the kids have something they know is “special,” they treat it special. Which means with a little bit more respect. And behave accordingly.
  2. I’m going to stop being annoyed at children behaving like children and let them enjoy the music the way children enjoy music. They move. They dance. They make noise. And there is nothing wrong with that. And I just need to remind myself of that. Life would not be nearly as beautiful if my little scenario mentioned above (the mind control and perfect obedience thing) were actually real life.

(Yeah, I’m just going to keep telling myself that.)


I’m just kidding!! I love those little kiddos, and being their mom, even on their rough days and my rough days, is awesome because they are little people and I am a big person and we are all just doing our best together – not because we have it all figured out, already.

Or because I have perfected any mind control techniques.

Moving on…

Next year we are going to do things a little differently, and it may look a little confusing at first, so bear with me for a minute. My 5th grader keeps asking me when we are going to add art pieces into our symposium line up, but I am having so much fun with the music that it is hard to just drop it. I know some people go six weeks with music, 6 weeks with art, but I’m reluctant to do that at this point. So, this is my compromise.

Week 1: Listen to a piece of music every day for 20 minutes (like normal) but ALSO have 6 or so fine are pieces hung up strategically around the house (a.k.a. fridge and bathroom) for the kids to organically soak in. (I’ve heard that is a real thing.)

Week 2: Have the kids pick one of the pieces of fine art and work through a variety of activities found here (sorry, you’re gonna have to click on that one) to help them become more familiar with it WHILE we listen to week 1’s classical music in the background. Same drill, 20 minutes each morning.

Week 3: Start again with the week 1 routine, but with new music and new pieces of fine art hung up around the house… and just keep the pattern rolling from there.

Ok, so maybe that wasn’t so complicated after all.

I’m getting all my fine art pieces from and my music just comes from amazon prime music.

A few music themes I’m working on in my head (meaning I’ve just thought about it and done nothing else yet) are movie scores (the kids are requesting Batman and Scooby Do. What?), music from around the world (3 weeks latin America, 3 weeks Chinese traditional, 3 weeks African traditional, etc.), choral music, music highlighting various instruments (3 weeks piano, 3 weeks flute, 3 weeks guitar, etc.) music from different ages (romance, baroque, whatever else there is – I don’t even know what I’m talking about at this point), and holiday themed music (mostly I just want Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor for Halloween! and some seriously amazing German Christmas music.) Throw me some other ideas! I know there are music lovers out there who can come up with some really wonderful stuff for us.

Speaking of wonderful stuff, here is what we have been listening to the last 4 months. Although the kids really loved many of these pieces, the most frequently requested piece in our house (by name, in fact) is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (the Ode to Joy one, but my kids just shout out “Freude!”), and in second place is Aaron Copland’s “Hoe Down.” On the last day of school we listening to all 4 hours (about) of music in the background while we tied up loose strings in the other subjects and I seriously didn’t even recognize a few of those Debussy pieces, so obviously not every piece had the same mesmerizing effect on all of us.

  1. Grieg, Piano Concerto in A minor
  2. Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King
  3. Grieg, Peer Gynt Suite 1: 1, Morning Mood
  4. Grieg, Peer Gynt Suite 1: 2, The Death of Aase
  5. Greig, Peer Gynt Suite 1: 3, Anitra’s Dance
  6. Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D minor: Choral IV, Presto
  7. Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C minor
  8. Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata
  9. Beethoven, Fur Elise
  10. Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (all 4 movements)
  11. Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro Overture
  12. Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro Duettino Sull ‘Aria
  13. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte (the Magic Flute) Overture
  14. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, Der Vogelfanger bin ich, ja!
  15. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, Der Holle Rache Kocht in meinem Herze
  16. Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
  17. Copland, Hoe-Down
  18. Copland, Appalachian Spring: Allegro
  19. Copland, Appalachian Spring: Doppio Movimento
  20. Saint Saens, Carnival of the Animals (all 14 movements)
  21. Debussy, Reverie
  22. Debussy, Clair de Lune
  23. Debussy, Arabesque No 1 in E major
  24. Debussy, Pour Le Piano (all three movements)
  25. Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
  26. Gershwin, Cuban Overture
  27. Gershwin, An American in Paris
  28. Gershwin, Porgy and Bess
  29. Gershwin, Summertime performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

How’s that for eclectic. That must have been my theme for last semester. Either that or “Stuff I just pretty much love and remembered at random.)

I don’t know if that last one is “classical” as much as it is a classic, but I thought it was fitting for the last week of school.