Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff: Biography Review

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

 

Title:  Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff
Author:  Opal Wheeler
Pages:  167
Reading Level:  Child – Young Adult
Audience:  Music Students, Music Teachers, Families
Stars:  ★★★★★

 

If I had to pick one work to describe this book, it would be adorable.  I love it!

First of all, it’s a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life.  Second of all, it’s just plain charming.  The book starts with the lad Robert and the many adventures he had with his faithful kitten, Ziff, at his heels.  The story continues through his musical career and into his happy life as a husband and father.  His family life – both as a boy and as a married man – was delightful, and this book highlights the sweetness of those relationships beautifully.

The illustrations are darling.  The biographies from Opal Wheeler’s Great Musicians Series are illustrated by various artists, but this one is my favorite.   They are black and white, but they’re very tastefully done – simple, sweet, and charming.  The work of this particular illustrator reminds me of old-fashioned Christmas Card artwork.  Love it.

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

And then there is the wonderful sheet music scattered throughout the book. Schumann wrote piles of music for his little ones, and thousands of boys and girls around the world have benefited from them.  Many of his pieces from Album for the Young are included, as well as snippets from his Sonata in G and others.

Even if no one in your house can play the music yet, try following along as you listen to recordings of the pieces. It’s a great way to acquaint yourself with the composer’s style and learn to recognize his compositions.

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

The writing style is interesting, quick-paced, and in story format, with a pleasant level of maturity.  It’s a great resource for little readers and would also be a fun family read aloud.

You can take advantage of the study guide (separate purchase) for the book, if you’d like to incorporate discussion points and quizzes into your group reading time.

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

 

Critiques & Cautions 

There are no inappropriate details in the book, but here are a few FYI cautions for parents to be aware of:

– Robert lies to a piano salesman in order to gain access to his pianos for a practice session.  It’s not portrayed as wrong – only as a little joke  p. 46
– Robert says that his music cannot be bound by rules.  p. 72
– Robert says that the fairies have blessed his little baby…  Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous. p. 92

 

schumann.2In Summary  

This little biography is a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life and is definitely worth adding to your music library.

Music Teachers & Parents, it’s a great resource to spice up your student’s music history studies and would make great reading assignment for a composer of the month project!

You can buy it from Amazon HERE.

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Advice to Young Musicians: Book Review & Free eBook

Advice to Young Musicians  |  Review & Free eBook  on  The Music Blog

 

Title:            Advice to Young Musicians
Author:        Robert Schumann
Pages:         48
Reading Level: Young Adult – Adult
Audience:   Students, Teachers, Families
Stars:           ★★★

 

Robert Schumann’s collection of piano compositions, Album for the Young, is well-loved, and thousands of young musicians have played his charming pieces.  But not very many know that he wrote a tiny book of words, too, called Advice to Young Musicians.

Advice to Young Musicians is a classic wit-and-wisdom-style book.  It’s not written in chapters, or even paragraphs, but in sixty-eight short music “proverbs” containing what Robert Schumann considered to be the most important advice he could give to a young musician.

Like most wit-and-wisdom books, some of the proverbs are better than others, and not every proverb is profound.  But the book is enjoyable, and much of the advice is profitable for musicians on a variety of levels.

Here is a sample of the content ~

 

52.  Do not judge of a composition on a first hearing; what pleases you in the first moment is not always the best.

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31.  If all would play first violin, we could get no orchestra together.  Respect each musician, therefore, in his place.

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11.  You must not only be able to play your little pieces with the fingers; you must be able to hum them over without a piano.  Sharpen your imagination so that you may fix in your mind not only the melody of a composition, but also the harmony belonging to it.

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22.  You should neither play poor compositions, nor even listen to them, if you are not obliged to.

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39.  The study of the history of music, supported by the actual hearing of the master compositions of the different epochs, is the shortest way to cure you of self-esteem and vanity.

 

It’s a short little book – one you can read cover-to-cover in about 15 minutes.

To get the most out of it, though, reading it all at once isn’t the best plan.  Instead, pick one good quote at a time and make it your musical motto for the day – or the week! This way you’ll be able to focus on internalizing and applying the very best pieces of advice, instead of just reading straight through all of them at once.

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NOTE:  Advice to Young Musicians is a book for “young musicians”, not “young children”.  It is written in older English, so some of the language can be a bit challenging for our modern phrasing and vocabulary.  This isn’t a criticism of the book, just a clarification.

If you would like your young child to benefit from the book, try reading it aloud to them in small portions, offering explanations and application along the way.[/box]

It’s always fun to add a book by one of the great composers to your music library.  You can get your own copy of Advice to Young Musicians from Amazon HERE, or if you like, you can READ THE BOOK FOR FREE here!