SQUILT: Music Appreciation the Whole Family Can Enjoy {Modern Era Review}

SQUILT modern era guide review

As the children and I prepared to delve deeply into the modern era for our textbook-free history studies, I knew I wanted to include the study of modern music as well.  With 5 kids ranging from preschool to precalculus, however, I realized we needed something customizable and easy-to-use that would still give us a rich overview of the modern era of music.  The SQUILT Modern Era guide was just what we needed.

SQUILT review

{This post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my time in exchange for my honest opinion. Please see disclaimer.}

What is SQUILT?

Are you are completely baffled by musical terminology?  Do you want to grow in your own musical understanding?  Or maybe you do have a musical background, but want something that requires no additional preparation time on your part?

SQUILT lessons provide an accessible, affordable, open-and-go option for including musical appreciation in your homeschool studies, regardless of your experience level.

SQUILT stands for Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time.  The simple lessons equip children to understand and appreciate many essential elements of music like rhythm, form, tempo, dynamics, mood, instrumentation, and more.  As they learn to listen well, they also learn to love beautiful music.

Mary Prather, the author of SQUILT, clearly lays out the course of study in each guide.  She even includes links to free music within the guide so you don’t have to go searching for each piece of music. (My family especially enjoys the extra bonus links that take you on delightful musical rabbit trails as you study a famous piece of music.) 

Mary gives you background on each composer, and provides the teacher with a cheat-sheet to help you guide your children as they learn to listen more carefully. 

There are several options for processing and discussing the music with your children:

  • Sometimes, the children and I just orally discuss the music, especially if it is one of the suggested supplemental pieces
  • The SQUILT listening form provides a clear reminder of the 4 main musical elements we’re being trained to observe (dynamics, rhythm/tempo, instrumentation, and mood).  Some of my children choose to write words in the available spaces, while others prefer to draw picture responses.
  • The Draw What You Hear page is perfect for the artists (or the pre-readers) in the family: a full page to color as you quietly listen to the music.  (Busy hands make it easier to stay quiet, so bonus points!)
  • Other notebooking pages and research suggestions are provided, but we have chosen to skip those at this point.  If you were using a SQUILT guide for a detailed music course, however, these would be ideal for encouraging more depth in your studies. 

SQUILT lessons are not just for children.  Even parents will find themselves learning and listening to music in new and exciting ways!

SQUILT listening forms

Our previous experience with SQUILT

The Modern Era guide is not the first SQUILT product our family has used and enjoyed.  Many years before I even started this blog, I purchased the musical era bundle to add to our morning time resource collection.  That first year, we studied the Baroque Era with the SQUILT guide, and my children still reference certain pieces of music we listened to that year. 

Since then, we have also utilized Meet the Composers and Meet the Instruments as part of our gentle music appreciation studies.

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Even though the guides are technically set up as 10-week courses, with 1 lesson designed to be spread out over the course of 1 week, we have never used them this way.  This summer, for example, we’ve enjoyed a few mornings delving deeply into an entire lesson all at once.  Whatever lessons we don’t complete during summer break, we will enjoy on a loop-schedule during morning time in the fall.

That’s part of what I love about the SQUILT guides: you can use them in whatever way works best for your own family.  While the target age is primarily elementary and middle grades, I have found that the activities are easy to customize for my wide range of ages and abilities. 

Days when we have bigger chunks of time, we can gather together in the living room and follow rabbit trail after rabbit trail.  Days when time is limited, we can break the lesson into smaller, bite-sized pieces without it feeling disjointed.

Modern Era Guide Fun

The SQUILT modern era guide comes with everything you need:

  • Introduction to the musical and historical era
  • Simple definitions and explanations of essential musical terms
  • Printable notebooking pages, Draw What You Hear sheets, and SQUILT listening forms
  • 10 Lessons covering the following composers:
    • Scott Joplin
    • Maurice Ravel
    • Bela Bartok
    • Igor Stravinsky
    • George and Ira Gershwin
    • Aram Khachaturian
    • Aaron Copland
    • Leonard Bernstein
    • John Williams
    • Andrew Lloyd Webber

I find that it’s easiest to print out the listening forms all at once so I don’t interrupt the flow of our lessons.  I also have learned to keep my laptop close by so I can easily click the links within the pdf!

Although I have a musical background, I did not know much about ragtime music before we began studying Joplin’s music.  As we listened to The Entertainer and other famous compositions by Joplin, the children and I learned to listen for the syncopated, or “ragged,” rhythms that give this style its name.  One daughter commented, “this is a very yellow song” while she listened.

My oldest son was thrilled to see that John Williams was included in the study (he has an entire playlist filled with Williams music that he plays ad nauseam on our Echo Dot).  In fact, we skipped some lessons so we could get to Williams sooner.  We did enjoy the Superman March and other music included, but my son found the Star Wars omission unforgivable. 😉  (I, however, was actually relieved to listen to some alternate Williams music.) Fortunately for my son, the Star Wars music is available in the May 2020 SQUILT LIVE! archive. 🤣

I personally can’t wait to have the excuse to play Phantom of the Opera music on repeat when we get to the Andrew Lloyd Webber lesson!  One of my favorite memories is watching Phantom of the Opera with my grandmother and mom in London many years ago. {{swoon}}

Modern Era Review

Give SQUILT a try

Whether you’re looking for a music curriculum, just want an easy way to include a bit of music appreciation in morning time, or maybe desire something fun and educational during summer break, check out all that SQUILT has to offer!

You can find guides for a variety of topics including various musical eras, several famous composers, seasonal/holiday music, instruments, and movies.  The only difficulty will be deciding which one to pick first!

Any questions about our experience with SQUILT? Comment below and let me know!

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