Spotlight on the Crew — Notebooking Artists and Composers for High School

{This week’s Spotlight on the Crew article is brought to you from Angie, at Petra School.}

Do you have a desire for your son or daughter to be able to recognize the great art pieces through history? As you approach these High School years do you feel like you barely have time for Literature, History, Math and Writing, much less Art and Composers? I’d like to share how you can work it into your busy week, and experience the joy artist observations!

Once a week spend an hour a day learning about artists and composers with your family.  We happen to follow along with Harmony Fine Arts (resources listed below).

On the first week –  Introduce an artist and spend time browsing through the images. It is handy if you align the artist to the time period of history that you are studying, but it is not necessary. Allow time for your student to really observe each photograph. Keep a notebook handy for them to write out their observations.

On the next two weeks, spend time learning the history of the artist. Where did they live? Where did they go to school? Did they practice art in a different country than they were raised in? What influenced their work? Who inspired them? Who were their contemporaries? What did their family feel about their work? When did their work become known world wide? As your student learns about the artist, have them start an outline in their notebook to help them remember. They can keep track of the images they have seen, highlighting their favorites.  Spend time in books as well as the internet to read about the artist and see their work in print.

Top off the 3-4 weeks of study by having your student write an essay created from their own notes.If you have various ages, allow each to work at their level. This year for 9th grade, the rhetorical stage, we are going to be encouraging a more intense self-directed study. However, we will continue to help our 6th grade son sitting by his side while we learn together.

I encourage you to give yourself permission to use time for this. We have spent the last year spending one day a week in this manner. You may also want to listen to a composer during the studies, and learn about their work as well. You will find in short time that you will be able to look at a piece, and discuss the lighting, coloring, perspective and composition of a piece. You will be able to say you like it because of the arrangement or focal point or color combinations, and have talks about if the image or piece evokes an emotion.  You will find the fruit of dedicating one day a week to learn about history, geography and writing through the focus of Art and Music History to be a blessing to your home.

My favorite moment this year?  Standing in a  second hand store, browsing frames, when we saw two images and the boys asked, “Is that Matisse?”  Yes! It was 2 Matisse Paper Cutouts! They were copies, but I was so excited to hear their discovery!


Harmony Art Mom – You may want to start on a 4-8th grade plan, to help get into the groove. After working through 2 of the plans, we are continuing with Harmony Art Mom’s Rhetoric Stage  – 9th – 12th grade. (Free high school downloads.)

Notebooking Pages at may be a help to give you an idea of who to study. They offer 36 composers, however you will need to be self directed in the study. Notebooking Pages Famous Composers (may be purchased for $5.95)

Ambleside Online. We started out with Ambleside Online – Charlotte Mason – and followed their plan for a year when the boys were younger. How did Charlotte Mason teach Music?  From Ambleside Online – Music

– “That is the principle of attentiveness and good observation. The goal is not to have children who can give a lecture on music theory. It is to have children learn to enjoy classical music and tell one piece from another just as naturally as they learn the difference between, say, The Farmer in the Dell and When the Saints Go Marching In – because they are both familiar with and fond of what they are hearing.”


Angie is starting her journey of High School learning, growing with her boys embracing the path from Delight Directed, Lapbooking, and Unit Studies – into Notebooking through High School.  Angie shares those experiences as Pebblekeeper at Petra School.




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