I have been anxiously waiting to use and review The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff, a composition workbook for students created by Andrea and Trevor Dow by TeachPianoToday.com. While it says it is for ages 7-11 the concepts that are taught are really great for all students. I think the age range is mostly due to the fact that it is based on a fun storyline and these cute cartoon characters Muttzart and Ratmaninoff who interact through the composing process.
In this review, I wanted to share a little more in depth, my experience using The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff. I knew one of my main focuses for Christmas camp was going to be composition and I knew that I wanted to use this book. One thing that I really love about most of the Dow’s products is that they are offered digitally. Because I did have teenagers participating in christmas camp, and to save money and time, I opted not to print out the entire workbook for each student and instead printed individual pages that were relevant to what I wanted to accomplish during camp. When teaching the composition lesson, I simply downloaded the book on my iPad and projected those pages I wanted students to see and learn on the wall. Once I felt they understood the 4 main composition tools I wanted them to learn and apply, then I turned it over to them to do the fun part- compose!
At camp, I had a couple students that were new to piano lessons and hadn’t learned notes on the staff yet. So for those students I simply had them write in the letter names and dashes (representing rhythm) instead. But the process we went through was the same as the students that did write on the staff.
At camp, we did not worry about adding the left hand. I explained to students that they can add that later at home because we simply did not have time to do this during Christmas camp. So that is something I look forward to seeing and/or helping with when they return in January.
The main tools that are taught in The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff is Motive, Repetition, Sequence and Retrograde. After we went through these tools, one of my students said, “I had no idea that there were actual tools that you can use when creating a composition.” I laughed and said, isn’t it great? Doesn’t it make writing a composition that much easier? This is important especially for students who are so worried that they can’t compose.
Every single one of the students walked away from camp with a finished (RH only) composition. I had one student that even wrote words for hers.
I have used several composition products over the years and I can honestly say that The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff has become a favorite of mine to use! Not only does it add fun with the character dialogs throughout the book, but it makes the whole process easy! The great thing about this book is you can use it successfully in private and group settings. Muttzart and Ratmaninoff interact throughout and make it fun and enjoyable for the student. Composing with The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff is an adventure your students will not want to miss!
You can find out more about The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff by clicking any of the links in this post and watching the video above.
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