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Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido D'Arezzo

Last updated Monday, March 5, 2012

Author: Susan Roth
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0618465723
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2012

Synopsis: "A thousand years ago. . . . There was no written music at all." In this fictionalized biography, Roth introduces Guido d'Arezzo, the Italian monk who devised the first system of musical notation. In easy language, Roth first describes how, as a child, d'Arezzo came to think about writing down the sounds of a song. She then follows him into adulthood, when his experimentation with notation met with plenty of skepticism, even after he experienced an epiphany that led to the beginnings of the system that we use today.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know what a musical scale is? (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do)
•  If you know it, lead the kids in the song: "Doe a Deer"

•  Parchment: Thin material from calfskin, sheepskin, or goatskin
•  Pitch: Highness or lowness of sound
•  Epiphany: Sudden realization or comprehension
•  By rote: learning in a fixed, mechanical way
•  Vespers: Sunset prayer service
•  Other musical words are listed in a glossary at the back of the book

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Can anyone here read music? (You can illustrate this with the simplest staff beside the glossary at the back of the book)
•  Where is Italy?
•  What are monks and how did they live a thousand years ago?
•  Are there monks today? (Yes!)
•  Have the kids sing Do-Re-Mi

Craft ideas:
•  Using the torn paper collage illustrations in the book as a guide, have the kids make their own collage pictures. They could decorate a construction paper book mark in this style.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!