For the first PPBF in Behind the Scenes Month, we’re going behind the scenes in the creation of musical notation.

Title: Do Re Mi : If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo

Author: Susan L. Roth, in association with Angelo Mafucci

Illustrator:  Susan L. Roth

Publisher: New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006

Genre: Picture book, historical fiction

Audience Age: 6-10 years (Barnes and Noble says 8-10)

Theme: music history, musical notation, determination, creativity,

Opening Sentences: A thousand years ago, if you heard a song and wanted to hear it again, you would have to remember it by heart. If you forgot the song, it could be lost forever.

Synopsis: A thousand years ago, all song was learned by memory. Choirs were taught by repeating the lines sung to them by the choir master. In Tuscany, young Guido of Arezzo learned in the same way, but he dreamed of making a way to write music down. At that time, the words could be written, but there was no way to write down the notes, the sounds of a song. When Guido became an adult, he worked at his quest to develop a way to write music, although he met with much resistance. He was determined, and imaginative, and he moved from place to place, studying music, trying out different systems of notation. Finally, he developed the system of lines and spaces that we still use, all over the world, today. Gradually he was able to convince others of the value of this, and so, as the subtitle of this book says, “If you can read music, thank Guido d’Arezzo.”

Activities/Resources: There are several games for learning music notation at Wart Games.

There are tons of games, quizzes and puzzles about music at Ms. Garrett’s website, Music Tech Teacher.

Anthropolis Links has a plethora of links to music educational activities and sites for kids.

The illustrations in this book also suggest art activities, such as torn paper illustrations and mixed media collages.

In searching for torn paper art for kids, I came across a wonderful blog of art projects for kids. Bookmark this one! Art Projects for Kids

Using this method of teaching LINES through torn paper art, from Art Lessons for Kids, children could make their own musical staff and plot a song on the lines and spaces.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

# 16 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

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