Friday, September 11, 2009

Studying The Music Man

Last month I went into the Homeschool Gathering Place (a great store in Raleigh that sells popular homeschool curricula and used books and other cool stuff) to get two things and came out with a whole stack. One item in my stack was Movies as Literature. It was something I had seen online a while back and thought I'd have to remember it for later. Well, it's later. The manual gives discussion and essay topic questions for 17 movies. It's meant to be a high school literature course, so most of the movies are over Mary's head, but there are two we're going to study this year: "The Music Man" and "E.T."

We started by attending an outdoor showing of "The Music Man" at Duke Gardens. They've been showing free movies on Wednesday nights all summer, and the theme was musicals.

The gardens hired a company to come in and set up a giant inflatable movie screen. Mary and I drove out to Duke after supper for the twilight movie. We brought lawn chairs and bought refreshments from the popcorn cart. It was a pretty chilly evening, and Mary was pretty sleepy by the time the show ended at almost 11:00, but we enjoyed it. It's a lot easier to focus on a movie in a dark theater, even an outdoor one, than it is at home. All around me, I could hear other movie-goers who just couldn't help singing along.

Mary watched the DVD again at home later that week, with the subtitles turned on so she could catch all the words. Today, I had her read the questions pertaining to a specific scene, then watch just that scene, then discuss the questions. She had to look up some background information to be able to answer some of the questions, like finding an image of "American Gothic", looking up the definition of "legitimate" and so on. We talked about what the couple in "American Gothic" would think if their son rebuckled his knickerbockers below the knees, and memorized jokes out of Cap'n Billy's Whizbang.

I downloaded the soundtrack, and Mary's been borrowing my iPod and singing all over the place, with the headphones on, just like her Grandma. (Finally, something other than "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"!) I ordered some easy piano arrangements of songs from "The Music Man", and when the book comes, she can learn to play them.

I told her she's not allowed to watch the DVD bonus features until we're finished with all the discussion questions.

Here are some "Music Man" links I found:
Music Man Square in Meredith Willson's hometown of Mason City, Iowa
Music Man Glossary in case you weren't around in 1912 and don't get all the references

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