More on Music by Kathie Johnson

First Books

More on Music

In my last column, I covered books on music, mostly composers. For children to understand and appreciate classical music, I think it would help for them also to know something about the instruments and what makes up an orchestra. Too many kids are exposed mainly to guitars and drums, and maybe keyboards. They need to have their ears tuned to the haunting quality of the oboe, the bright notes of the trumpet, and the varied tones of the string family. Understanding how they all come together in an orchestra is also important.

A slightly humorous take on orchestras is The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, by Karla Kuskin, in which the various members of an orchestra get themselves ready and come together for a performance. This book makes them very human and knowable, not just performers on a distant stage. The Story of the Orchestra, by Robert Levine, has great illustrations and an accom-panying CD. It covers major composers and then has spreads on each instrument, with lots of information.

Two books by Ann Hayes are filled with animal instrumentalists. Meet the Orchestra describes orchestral instruments colorfully, and Meet the Marching Smithereens describes the instruments in a marching band. The animal characters make these books fun. In a fiction book about an orchestra coming together, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss, a lonely trombonist plays his instrument on a stage, and gradually other instrumentalists join him, each adding their special sound.

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Kathie Johnson has always had a love for children's books. She collected many as a teacher and began sharing them with other teachers. In 1986, she opened a children's library in her home, and it has continued to expand over the years. Many home-schooled and schooled children borrow books from it, and she takes great pleasure in finding the "right" book for a child. She attends First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.

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