SummaryLifelong musician and homeschooling mom Karena Tapsak presents practical and time-tested ways to bring music home and turn it into a lifetime experience.
You have perhaps heard some of the research indicating that studying music increases intelligence, creativity, and motor skills, but there is so much more!
Anyone who studies music learns the value of hard work and reward that comes from practice and performance, as well as increased self-esteem. Playing music is enjoyable and brings others joy.
Finally, music is something that, once learned, you will have for a lifetime. The best of all? It is easy to integrate into your homeschool. You and your children will benefit, and they will thank you for it!
I have been a musician my entire life. I started piano at age four, and by middle school, I was playing several different instruments in the school band and orchestra, as well as singing every chance I got. I grew up with music all around me. At home, we listened to music much of the time, including classical and jazz as well as contemporary.
My parents took us to the symphony and choral concerts at a young age, as well as my dad’s “dance jobs” where he played traditional German music and his chorale concerts. From these experiences, we learned a lot about how important and enjoyable music can be. You can integrate music into your homeschool in the same ways.
Private Lessons or Classes
Taking private lessons is an easy way to integrate music into your homeschool. Lessons take little time (perhaps 15-30 minutes once a week for beginners), and practice each day (5-10 minutes for the youngest kids, progressing to more time daily as they get older). Class options could include an early childhood music and movement class or group instrument class for older children.
Many families start formal music study with the piano or keyboard, and there are good reasons to do so. Because of its popularity, piano teachers are relatively easy to find and you only need to buy or lease one instrument if all of the children learn piano.
Because playing piano develops many skills at once, learning another instrument is so much easier after having studied piano. Many children can begin piano lessons around the age of five or six. Talk to a piano teacher to determine your child’s readiness. Young children are remarkably good at learning the complexities of music at a young age, so start young if possible.
If you choose a band or orchestra instrument, you can often get private lessons through a public or preparatory school or from a private teacher. Most schools begin instrument lessons around the age of ten, simply because the child has to be big enough to hold and play the instrument. With string instruments, one can start younger because smaller versions of the string instruments exist and children trade up in size as they grow.
After taking lessons for a little while, your child may wish to join a music ensemble. Making music with others further develops what the children are learning in lessons, teaches them how to work with others, and gives them valuable feedback from another teacher.
Plus, it is a lot of fun! Possibilities include local music schools, the public schools, community groups (such as a community band, orchestra or chorus), colleges or universities, or homeschool groups. In some areas of the country where there is a high concentration of homeschoolers, parents have formed their own bands, orchestras, or choruses. Even occasional performances with friends at nursing homes or church events give them valuable experience while also bringing joy to others—perhaps the best reason of all!
Make Music With Your Children
One way to foster an appreciation for music in your homeschool is to participate with your kids. One of my own earliest music memories is of my father and me singing a duet on the local public radio station when I was about six or seven.
In my own family, we have done many musical activities together, including participating in a local community band, a homeschool chorus, playing at nursing homes and church events, and many others. I accompany my children on the piano quite often, which is a lot of fun for me.
Some parents learn new instruments right along with their children (the Suzuki method encourages this). Playing together gets even more fun as your children get older.
Now that some of our kids have become quite proficient on their own, we play occasionally with members of our community, everything from classical arrangements to jazz to Balkan music. There are so many possibilities! Making music with your children both encourages them and shows them that it is important and fun!
There are many options for music curricula in addition to the above. The Seton lesson plans are a good start, as well as software programs that teach both instruments and elements of music, music history texts (for older children), and theory books. One can also find online courses and online teachers of virtually every type of instrument, voice, and music instruction. The public library is a great resource as well.
Finally, whether your child is taking lessons or not, he or she will benefit from music appreciation or music history. The love of music, even as a listener, can be instilled at a very young age. An easy way to do this is to simply play classical music (or jazz, or other genres you prefer) while you are doing your homeschooling lessons.
As the children get a little older, engage them in conversation about what they are listening to. You can also have a more active listening period where you have a series of questions that the children can answer about a particular piece or composer.
Many books can be found in the library to help with this. You can even combine music appreciation and the study of composers with different periods of history. This helps place the development of classical music into a historical frame of reference.
No matter which way you integrate music into your homeschooling curriculum, your children will benefit. More importantly, learning an instrument, singing, or simply appreciating good classical music will bring them enjoyment throughout their lives.