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Learning to Play Piano with Simply Music – A Homeschool Crew Review

We just moved at the end of last month. That was a feat. It was also an adventure. One thing we found out, the previous owners were willing to leave the piano that was in the house! This was exciting for everyone in the house. What was even more exciting was that we grabbed access to the Music & Creativity – Foundation Course from Simply Music to review. What great timing!

What It Is

Simply Music is an online program with videos lessons taught by Neil Moore. To use this program, you will need two things, a piano or a keyboard and a computer with internet. 

The Music & Creativity – Foundation Course consists of 19 lessons plus a quick start for those who want to play yesterday!

Each lesson will contain the Lesson Content (videos), Reference Materials, and Lesson Content (soundtracks when you are working on learning to play songs).

Lesson One is all about the basics. These videos, while seemingly boring, were packed full of information for those who are beginners. I really appreciated how Neil went through all the basics and we got started with making sure we had all that we needed, the piano and my laptop to watch our lessons on.

Lesson Two was broken down into two learning strategies. These are actually sprinkled throughout the program. The first two that Neil introduced us to were to make sure we were learning slowly and to control the events. I loved that he told me and my kids to go slowly. This is a great part of this program, going at our own pace and going slowly when we need it.

Once you start Lesson Three, you start the first song, Dreams Come True. This is where we are right now. There are six parts to this lesson. We have been spending a lot of time mastering each part before we move onto the next. This is the part of a self-paced lesson that I am liking.

After we master this song, we have about 10 other songs that we will be working on. At the pace we are going, I can see this program taking us about 24 -30 weeks. I am assuming that when the kids and I get used to playing, the later lessons will move quicker. Either way, we have a great start at playing the piano!

How We Used It

We got access to this course before we started our move. I was able to preview the first couple of lessons, but it wasn’t fun without the piano in front of us. After finally moving in and being done with the unpacking, it was close to the end of the review period, so we are not as far as I had hoped, however, we are excited to keep learning!

We took the first two lessons and watched them together. Depending on the video and the length, we would do on average, one or two videos at a sitting. We set aside about 3-4 days a week to watch the videos. If you are not in the middle of a move, I am sure you could get through the first two lessons in a day or two and get started on your song a lot faster than we did!

Once we got to the first song, this is when time slowed down for us. We watched the video together. After that, we would each take some time, about 15-20 minutes, to practice each part. I refused to let any of us move on to the next part of the lesson until we had it mastered. Neil takes the time to break the song down into small chunks. As we learn and master one part, we can work on adding the next part. There is no way to get overwhelmed.

What We Thought

We love this program! The kids and I are able to each do it at our own pace. I never thought I would be playing the piano, but I am loving that fact that I am able to figure it out and enjoy it. Not only that but the same program that can teach me also teaches my 10 and 8-year-olds as well!

We don’t have to feel rushed, we can take our time, and we are told to do that. We are told to slow down and focus. I really appreciate a teacher taking the time to tell us that. It is not about how fast we can learn to play, it is making sure we know what we are doing. 

Knowing that this program is broken down to help us, makes it fun for everyone. I am not a musically inclined person. I have issues knowing what notes are what, and I have had fear of not being able to allow my kids to learn how to play music without paying for a teacher. Neil is a great teacher, and in honor of their 20th anniversary, you can get this foundation course for free! What better way for a family to introduce learning how to play music at a price that fits every budget!

While we didn’t get as much time with this program before sharing our review, the other families that reviewed it had a lot more time! Check out their reviews right here: 

Learn to Play the Piano with Music & Creativity - Foundation Course {Simply Music Reviews}

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What’s Hoppin’ at Hopkins Homeschool – January 21, 2018


Wow, another week has happened! Where did that go? I can tell you that I honestly don’t know! I have had an issue of getting myself ready for a week when I wasn’t ready for it. I had all the best intentions, but no motivation to make it happen. However, being in the homeschool way, we can make things work as we see fit!


This week started slow. Monday was a holiday that I hadn’t planned on taking off, but did anyway. After taking that day off, I felt behind for the week. I couldn’t understand, mentally, that we were on a Tuesday and not a Monday.

Tuesday was the worst Monday that I have had in a while! I didn’t have the lesson plans done for the week and the kids didn’t want to do anything if they didn’t have to. I was not happy that I was behind, which in turn caused the kids to not want to do anything.

We finally got some things done, and they actually went smoothly for how the day had started. This was a great thing. I was happy to turn my flop into a success!

But before I went to bed Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Ray Ray came downstairs, he had a tummy ache and we spent time in the bathroom until 4am. Lucky for us, he didn’t get sick, but it was no fun.

This means that Wednesday was a long day! There was very little school that got done, there was lots of water being passed around and lots of rest was required, especially for mama! I didn’t want anyone else to come down with this, and I especially didn’t want to get this.

Of course, by Thursday I had little hope for the week. Everyone was feeling better and our Minnesota weather allowed us to get outside again. We were able to spend time working on our Coping with the Cold unit study. This has been such a great way to get school in when we really don’t want to do anything.

Winter NaturExplorers 735x1102 (Pinterest)

I love how many great studies Cindy has over at Our Westward Journey. There is something for everyone and for something for every season. There is no true day by day lesson plan, but I have no problem to grab what I need when I plan my lessons out for the day. We also love how there are ideas to use this in conjunction with our Winter Time Morning Plans.

Another thing we did get done this week was our new music lessons! I love that we found a great Charlotte Mason style of music. This fits our homeschool style so much! Finding something that is simple, yet effective and all laid out for me is great. I love it!

So, this week we have had a few fails, some that we could have avoided, like me and lesson plans, and some that we couldn’t control, like the sickness. But, through this week we have been able to learn a lot. While it may not have been on our lesson plans, we did learn a lot this week!

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Music in the Homeschool ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back! We are officially half way through the alphabet! Yes, half done with this fun Blogging Through the Alphabet Series! I am so glad you joined me and Annette from A Net in Time for this journey! Even though we are half way through the alphabet, we would love to have you join us! Have an "M" post? Link it up with us!!

This week I thought I would take a look at Music in the Homeschool. I love having the option to study as we wish in homeschool, and this includes the music. While some kids love to sing, others like to study the actual music. This is where I love homeschooling. I have both in my house. Those who love singing and those who love to study or play the music.

Music in our homeschool comes in many different ways. Yes, we study it for our homeschool like most "normal "schools do, but we may do it in a different way. We love to just listen to music. All styles, all ages, just listening as we study, or play or even as we get ready to sleep.

When both me and daddy were in school, we were both in Choir classes. This is still available today, and is usually offered after school, which means homeschool kids are welcome. My two oldest have not shown an interest in this, but I am waiting on Little Miss. I see her as my child who wants to be on stage singing. Knowing that my school district works with homeschooling for something like this in in one word, awesome!

Until Little Miss is ready, we are working on music at home. Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we have found some items that work for us and Pinterest helps fill in the missing keys for now.

One of our favorite ways to learn about music is to do Hymn Studies. These are a simple way to introduce the kids to music. We have found our favorite hymn, as of right now, is What a Friend We Have in Jesus. For our hymn studies, we spend time listening to the hymn each day. I may even play it in the background during school. We will spend some time learning about the composer, and we work on copy work of the words.

Another way we learn about music that is similar to the hymn studies is Music Appreciation from Zeezok Publishing LLC. This was something I never would have thought to try, but a program we have loved and Ray Ray still loves to use.

Now, music can also mean instruments. While none of my kids are currently playing any instruments, we have found resources for when they may want to. My kids love the guitar. We have found some local places that can do guitar lessons, but we also found guitar lessons as part of the music program with our membership. (This thing keeps getting better every day!)

Music doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't have to be tedious and it doesn't have to be boring. You make it how you want it, it is your homeschool after all! So, how do you bring the music into your homeschool?

Do you have a Letter M post you want to share? Link up below, we would love to have you join us!

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Music Appreciation for Elementary Grades ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Music, such a wonderful way to play with your emotions. Why not have a way to teach this magic that is great for multi age groups and a variety of learners. If you are looking for this kind of music lesson, look no further than Zeezok Publishing LLC and their Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

Zeezok Publishing LLC has taken 7 of the great composers and put them in this first book of their Music Appreciation Set. Within this first book, you and your child will about Bach, Handel, Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert. And you will learn about them in a fun and interactive way!

We decided to start with Bach, one of my personal favorites. And it turns out that Ray Ray fell in love with Bach just as much as I did while using this program. And with using something as simple and fun as this, who wouldn't fall in love with these composers?

The nice thing about Music Appreciation, you can pick and choose the order you want to go in when learning about these composers. Let your child take a look at the living books, talk a little about each and let them be in charge for once. Trust me, they love this, and they will learn a little better this way!

Zeezok Publishing Review

Once your child decides who they want to learn about, you just need to open the book and check out your lesson outline for the next four weeks. This outline will tell you what to complete each week, how you complete it, that is up to you and your child! This makes it easy for your child to take control once again. I showed Ray Ray the list, I told him that we could spread it out, or cram it in. After the first week of "cramming" it in, he decided to spread it out the rest of the time!

Each week is going to include multiple learning adventures. If you are worried, they mark which of these activities are required for the national standards. Each of these multiple activities reach your child at a different level of learning and fun. No matter your child's learning style, there is sure to be an activity that will reach them!

Every week will include a required reading, comprehension questions, character qualities, tidbits of interest, lapbook activities and most weeks include music to listen to from that composer. There are other activities as well, but this is the general idea. And with this alone, you can already see how much fun is going to be had! Ray Ray LOVED the music, in fact, I ended up letting him just listen to the music and enjoy it on his own time.

Zeezok Publishing

The reading that you will do each week comes from a living history book. This is a fun to read (not at all like a textbook) book to read with your children. The words are not too huge, and your children will be able to do a lot of the reading with you. The comprehension questions cover the reading for that week. While you have the option to write the answer, we would also use this as a time to have Ray Ray verbally answer and recite to me what he remembered from the reading.

The hands on activities for the lapbook were a hit with us. We were able to use these to play games (shh don't tell him they were for review) and do experiments (don't worry mom, you have the supplies at home already!). This was a great way for us to show off what we were learning to the rest of the family.

Zeezok Publishing

We love using our Music Appreciation in our school day. It is a fun way to learn about the classical music and the composers behind it. There is no boring learning and just fun. There is no tedious work, just fun. This is sure to be a hit with us for a while! And we can't wait for Book 2 to make its appearance!!

Don't take our word for it, well you should but in case you don't, head on over and check out these other reviews from other crew families!

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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Maestro Classics The Nutcracker ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen. This is big reason why I want to be adding music into the lives of my children, but when they are kids, you have to make it fun! That is when I turn to Maestro Classics! Last week we spent some time with The Nutcracker and I can’t wait to tell you about this!

Maestro Classics The Nutcracker

What It Is

We had the chance to review the physical audio CD of The Nutcracker with music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and storytelling from Jim Weiss. There is over one hour of fun with a retelling of the story, made with kids in mind.

Not only do you get the physical audio CD, but you get a fun little insert that tells you about the history of the ballet, the harp and Pyotr IlychTchaikovsky. There is a fun word scramble and cross word for the kids to work on.

But that is still not all, you also have a fun curriculum guide that you will be able to use to turn this fun little story in music into a complete unit study for your children to learn from! This curriculum guide comes with everything you need, history, math, science and language just to name a few subjects.

How We Used It

I love this kind of music for the kids. They love to listen to the story, and the music adds to the effect in their brain. We listened to the CD during lunch to start with. I took the curriculum guide and decided what we did or did not need to use (the benefit of homeschooling!).

The kids did not know that we were learning from half of the activities that were suggested on the curriculum guide, but they all helped the kids in one way or another while all relating back to The Nutcracker.

After 2 days of listening again and again while working on the fun projects, we spent some time and found some YouTube videos of The Nutcracker. Now, this changed everything for Ray Ray and Little Miss. They did not realize that this was a dance…and they are both in dance. The next time we listened to the CD, both kids decided to dance with the CD until they got tired.

What We Thought

My mom always had music playing when I was growing up. I remember listening to many stories in music and loving them, trying to dance to dance with them and just having fun with them. That is what I want with my kids, but I want the music to be quality stories in music, and I found that with Maestro Classics. I love the music that they have and the activities that go with them are an added bonus! This is what I was looking for since I was a kid!

My kids love the music, and that makes me happy. They love being able to listen to the story that is being told, and they love dancing with the music. Being able to find something to keep them busy with learning, movement and music all in one is hard, but I know that whenever I look at Maestro Classics I will be finding something that I love.

Take a second and head on over to see what the other review families are thinking about Maestro Classics and their music!

Maestro Classics Review

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The Unmaking Review and GIVEAWAY

The Unmaking #Giveaway

Music is such a fun and wonderful way to sit back and relax. Finding just the right CD to listen to shouldn’t be had, you should be able to just know that you have a good Christian, family friendly CD in and ready to go when you need it.

The Unmaking Giveaway

This last week I have been listening to Nichole Nordeman’s newest album, The Unmaking.

Nichole Nordeman is a recording artist and songwriter for Sparrow/EMI CMG, with numerous number-one and top ten singles to her credit and cumulative CD sales of over one million.  A two-time Gospel Music Association winner for Female Vocalist of the Year, she has won a total of nine Dove Awards, including the best-selling album, Music Inspired by The Story.  Her best-known songs include "Holy", "Legacy", "Brave", "This Mystery", "Why", and "What If".  She lives with her family in Tulsa, OK.

Now, even though there are all these wonderful songs out there…I had never heard of Nichole, let me tell you what a blessing this review has been to me! I fell in love as soon as I heard the first song! I could relate! I loved her style and loved her messages!

The six songs on this album are: The Unmaking, Not To Us, Name, Love You More, Something Out of Me and Slow Down. Out of all of these, Slow Down is the song I have listened to the most! This is the song that had me smiling and crying! I feel that I can relate to this song the most as I watch all four kids grow, especially Baby Girl!!


The Unmaking

Nichole says this about her new album, "Before things in our lives can be resurrected and given new life, certain things must die.  Before beauty blooms in spring, roots must do the hard work under the hard frozen soil of winter.  Before you renovate and re-build, you tear down the parts of the structure that are weak or damaged or dangerous.  Before we make, we must unmake."

You can find Nichole on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vevo. Make sure you let her hello from me!

The wonderful people at FlyBy Promotions (the ones who sent me this album to review) have agreed to let me give one of you lucky readers your very own copy of The Unmaking! Enter for your chance!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just a little legal stuff:

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


**Affiliate links may have been used within this post. All that means to you is that you are helping support our blog with your purchases, nothing more. Thank you!*


How many of you already knew about Nichole and her wonderful music? What is your favorite song?

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Happy Kids Songs ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Happy Kids


Do you have that child who loves to listen to music all the time? The one who loves catchy tunes? Do you want to have them listen to songs that will help them build character, work on their attitude, manners and respect? Happy Kids Songs has some fun albums, like Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, Manners & Character and a fun activity book Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills.

What Is It

For this review we received a physical soft cover 125 page activity book. This book has activities to go along with all the songs of all 8 albums. When I say activity pages I am talking about the lyrics, coloring pages and activities that build on the song. You are able to include every child with this activity book with all different learning styles. And the nice thing is, you only need to buy the one ($13.95 list price) for all the albums instead of one for each album.

We also got 3 albums to download. You can find these downloads on either itunes or Amazon ($4.95 each album) and from there, you put it on the device you want to listen to them on. Each album contains 5 songs that goes with the theme of the album. Average length of all the songs is about 3 and ½ minutes long, which makes each album about 15-20 minutes long. Oh, and did I mention that each song is sang by kids for kids!?! This makes it even more appealing to the kids!

The topics covered in each of the three albums we received are:

Friends and Sharing

  • Shyness
  • Reaching out
  • Not being bossy
  • Dealing with goodbyes

Manners and Character

  • Lying
  • The golden rule
  • Respecting others
  • Accepting difference
  • Rudeness and manners

Happiness and Attitude

  • Being thankful
  • Positive thinking
  • Paths to happiness
  • Handling frustration
  • Time together/time apart


How Did We Use This

I downloaded all the songs first…and then lost them to Little Miss. Although these are recommended for ages 4-8, Little Miss was the happiest with them and listened the most. But I am fine with that…good topics and lessons within each song made it worthwhile for her! I did have Ray Ray listen in with Little Miss and we would color the pages together while talking about the songs. The Copyright of the book does allow you to make copies for home use if you are the one who purchased the book.

We also added in some of the activities to our Character time during the day. I had fun reading through the different ideas and finding those that would appeal to my kids, while still seeing other ideas too! I was able to find things that Ray Ray and Little Miss could do together…and while Moe Man is “too big” for the songs, I was able to find activities to help touch up on topics he needed refreshers in too.

Our Opinion

The songs are still being listened to by Little Miss. She is even singing along with them. When I asked her if she liked them, she told me to be quiet because she was listening to the music. I took that as a yes answer. I love them because I know they have a meaning behind them, and although some music just for music is good, I love having her sing and listen to songs with meaning.

I love the activity book as well. We have artistic kids who love to color, so we have been using the coloring sheets the most. I love being able to find a fun game to play when the kids are bored on rainy or too hot days and have it teach them something while they play. Come on, who doesn’t like to teach their kids while they are playing?!?

We love these songs and activity book, and I do recommend this to anyone who has a music loving child!

Stop by and read what everyone else is saying about Happy Kids Songs!

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Maestro Classics ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review


Do you like stories? Do you like music? What about a story within the music? Maestro Classics does just this! We were given the chance to listen to Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Both of these CDs were delightful to listen to!

Maestro Classics is beautiful classical music for children! Their Stories in Music are recordings with a narrator telling you the story and a symphony orchestra to introduce this music to your children. There are three major goals to these CDs. They are to expand the listening horizons, develop listening skills and accumulate musical memories, and to encourage adults and children to listen to music together.

We have always loved listening to music in our house. And stories are a daily part of the household. When you combine the two, it is the best of both worlds! Each of these CDs sells for $16.98 or you can purchase the MP3 download for $9.98. They each come with a cute little activity booklet that goes along with the music.

Maestro Classics Review

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is recommended for ages 4+. We have previously read this story, and watched the video on it. When the kids heard the beginning of the music, they were excited. They knew right away what adventure we were headed on. What we didn’t know, was how beautiful this story and the music were put together. Add in the fun activity booklet and the sing along song, and we were having so much fun by the time lunch was over!

Maestro Classics Review

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is recommended for ages 6+. This is a remastered edition of the classic. This remastered edition includes a narration on the music. It was so much fun to have someone help paint the picture of the lazy apprentice and his antics with the brooms and water! Not only do you get to listen to this music, but the activity booklet includes things like crossword puzzles, dot to dots and a fun kitchen percussion to add some fun to the “learning” if you call it that 🙂

We have loved these CDs beyond what words could explain. When I was growing up, I would watch Peter and the Wolf. I loved the music and it the movie made me learn how to picture the story of music in my head. I will always remember that music and I wanted something like that for my kids to grow up with. Classical music is so much more than music and having this chance was just want I wanted.

We started each CD during our lunch. Listening to the story and the music. After that we continued and listened to the extras on each CD. By the time we were done eating and cleaning up (40-50 minutes) we were able to move over to the activity book for each CD. We would work on the fun crosswords, or dot to dots and we would read up on the different instruments. Each booklet also included some sheet music of the song and we started learning the notes. Adding in the fun activities like the kitchen percussion, or the Mike Mulligan Sing Along and you have a music course for the week! So simple and yet so fun!

I loved being able to give my children the chance to learn to love the classical music like I did. They enjoyed listening to something other than me eating while reading…and they enjoyed the music. Classical music seems to calm them, add in some learning and they had an awesome afternoon, as did I! This music brought back wonderful memories for me and I hope that this will do the same thing for my kids!

Maestro Classics can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Now, I told you about two of the CDs, but there are more than that and these ladies here can tell you about them! Click below and enjoy!




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