March is the perfect time for a composer study!
This composer is near and dear to my heart. He is a German Lutheran (just like me) who had an obsession with all things music. He also wrote his music for the glory of God.
J.S. Bach was born March 31, 1685. (Did you know Handel was born in the same year?)
I'm taking part in the iHomeschool Network's Birthday Lessons for March. Many other bloggers are posting birthday lessons for famous figures, so you will want to check them all out!
Why don't you listen to a little Bach while you are reading?
I have to confess: Bach is my favorite composer. His music is the essence of beauty, especially (in my opinion) his music for the pipe organ.
This piece in particular (The Toccata and Fugue in d minor) is a great way to draw young children into the music of Bach. I'm sure they will all recognize it, but might not know who wrote it.
A little about J.S. Bach:
Bach once had to spend a month in jail because he tried to quit his job composing and playing for a duke. During that month in jail, he wrote forty-six pieces of music, many of which are still performed today.
Bach, a dazzling organist and church musician, had to compose all kinds of original pieces for every church service including pieces for choir, organ, harpsichord and orchestra. Since most of his music was written to be performed in a church service only once and then thrown out, very little of his music was published during his lifetime. It was for this reason that Bach composed more music than almost any other composer. However, his musical genius was not recognized until about 100 years after his death.
Bach was famous for his music and for something else - Bach had twenty children! Five were named Johann, two Johanna and four grew up to become famous composers. He may be remembered long after other composers because in 1977, the Voyager spacecraft was launched into space carrying recordings of three pieces by Bach.
(biography courtesy Dallas Symphony Orchestra)
I'd like to point you to several marvelous resources that will help you study Bach with your children.
You don't need to be a musician to learn about a composer. Just listen to the music and read wonderful books - it's that simple.
I detailed a lot of this in the Ultimate Guide to Composer Study.
Please also visit my J.S. Bach Pinterest board, too.
Online Bach Studies
Listening Lesson: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (A SQUILT lesson from yours truly!)
Bach Composer Study Squidoo Lens by Jimmie
Bach's Big Adventure Unit Study from Homeschool Share
Johann Sebastian Bach - A Mini Unit from DIY Homeschooler
J.S. Bach - A Digital 16 Week Unit Composer Study from Living Books Curriculum
Books About Bach
(I believe the best way to learn about a composer is to read about their life. These resources are the best I have found. We have read each of these, so I can personally recommend them.)
Sebastain Bach: The Boy From Thuringia - by Opal Wheeler (STELLAR!)
The Music of J.S. Bach
Bach wrote over 1,000 compositions. In 1950 a special cataloging system was created for Bach's works, the BWV System. (This essentially, when translated, means Bach Works Catalog.) The works are grouped by theme, not by date composed, so a low BWV number doesn't necessarily mean it was written early in Bach's career.
Visit the JS Bach YouTube Channel. Keep this playing the entire time you are studying Bach.
I play the music in the car, while the children are working, basically everwhere. You will be amazed at the effect beautiful music has on children.
Bach's music is so orderly - he wrote everything with patterns of threes (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).
How We Studied Bach
I like to keep things simple when planning a composer study.
We read Sebastian Bach: The Boy From Thuringia and listened to the corresponding music suggested in the book.
I printed JS Bach pages from Notebooking Pages and the children wrote what they could remember about him.
I also made notebooking pages for the harpsichord and pipe organ (very simple to do in Notebooking Publisher, or you could use blank notebooking pages and have your students print their own pictures).
I had Bach playing in the background constantly over the course of two weeks.
The best part about this was that it was a part of our current history studies.
Inserting a famous composer into your history spine is such an easy and meaningful way to study composers.
I am thankful to Zeezok Publishing for providing a copy of Sebastian Bach: Boy From Thuringia for a giveaway. One lucky reader will win this Bach biography by Opal Wheeler. If you aren't familiar with the Opal Wheeler biographies YOU SHOULD BE. Once you read one, you will want to own them all!
It's been fun sharing my love of Bach with you.
I hope you study the composer and his music this month to celebrate his birthday!