Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homeschool Music

by DD 8
Homeschool music... sigh. I remember years ago hearing people question what to do for "Music" and thinking, "Are they nuts? How is it you need to actually do anything for music?"  I have always felt that music is an important part of life - not just "school" or homeschool. So I think my reaction from so long ago was more a reflection of my shock at needing to have a program in order to include music in your life. But I've actually changed my thinking about music, and I've realized that I was completely misunderstanding the question and concern expressed by the more veteran homeschoolers (in much the same way that I've been humbled as a parent over and over).

by DD 7
I started out simply living our life without adding in any extra music "stuff" - and I recorded our music "program" to turn in to the state review. I was shocked the first year. Yes, we listened to tons of music. Yes, I pointed out rhythm and tempo, beats, dynamics, etc. Yes, the girls were exposed to symphonies and orchestras... but I felt disappointed in myself.  All in all, when I went back and looked at what I thought was a rich and diverse musical life, I realized that wasn't the case.  I was like a totally out-of-shape middle-age woman that has tricked herself into thinking she's actually in great shape because 20 years ago in high school she ran cross-country, or was on dance team, or whatever. In other words - I had been somewhat delusional.

by DD 11

Now, of course this wasn't the end of the world. I didn't sit and cry, shaking my head at how I'd wronged my children. Instead, I just thought about what it is about music that I want my children to take away with them. And I realized that some of my favorite memories from my school days were centered around music. I remember learning about the orchestra and all the instruments. I remember learning about music around the world, the different sounds and instruments that evolved in far-away continents. I remember being able to try out different instruments, singing in rounds and in groups. And I remember learning about many, many different composers and musicians, what influenced them, and the timeline of music. And I want my girls to experience some of the same joy and wonder of music that I did.
by DD 9

Most of all, I recognized that if I didn't plan at least some of this, we probably wouldn't ever get to it. So for the past two years I've introduced a famous composer or musician every month. For the entire month we focused heavily on that person and his or her works. We read a biography together, listened to the music over and over, did emotional reflections, wrote about the composer, etc., etc., etc. This year, I'm turning the focus onto the orchestra. We are dedicating our entire year to learning about the history, the instruments, and the importance of the orchestra. So far, it has been wonderful. I am using two books as my spine: The Story of the Incredible Orchestra and The Story of the Orchestra (very similar titles, but different enough in information that I'm happy I have both). We are utilizing the free game by Carnegie Hall. And we are constructing lap books to help us remember what we've learned - we are adding a little to the books each week (I'm using the free templates as a base and adding things to it as I see fit). Oh - and of course I have several trips to the orchestra planned!


  1. That's a really good idea - a composer each month. We went to the symphony this week, and even though we've *always* gone several times every year since they were little, they're really getting more interested in it now and appreciating classical music more - showing interest in it in a way that they haven't before.
    We may adopt your composer per month idea. And a poster. I like the idea of a poster per composer, too!

  2. I love the composer of the month idea, too. Just pinned this post on Pinterest so I don't forget. I really want to do something like this. It's been nagging at me that I haven't done much with them musically, although they are still young. At least the oldest is taking piano lessons now so that is something, but I really enjoyed learning about music when I was growing up and hope to provide my kids with a rich experience. Thanks for the ideas. --Julie