Unlike public schools that are time constrained and need to keep to a rigid schedule, homeschool generally has a flexible timetable that allows for many more opportunities for homeschoolers to include more subjects and avenues of study than the regular academia. That affords them a range of wonderful possibilities in teaching and exposing homeschooling students to a vast array of subjects and topics outside of the “norm”.
Including music is one of those subjects. Most homeschoolers suppose that music must entail structured piano or other musical instrument lessons spending hours learning to play boring scales. However, there is so much more to music than most realize. It’s not necessary to spend hard-earned money on lessons for instruments or voice, especially when your homeschoolers have no interest in learning it. There’s no reason to attempt to force your homeschoolers to take lessons when there are dozens of other aspects of music that can be included in your homeschool that are just as creditable but much more enjoyable, both to you and to them.
Of course, there’s always the standby classical music by composers like Mozart and Bach that your students may have heard of, but do they know they’ve already listened to classical music without realizing it? Did they watch any Disney cartoons while growing up? Did they hear the music that was played while watching Bugs Bunny or Yosemite Sam? Have them listen!
Have your homeschooling children ever watched some of the old family classics like Lassie, The Waltons, or Little House on the Prairie? The background music to all of them is just instrumental orchestrations that are a little more up to date. There are some wonderful and more recent composers and musicians such as John Tesch, Burt Bacharach, and Yanni that have written some very emotional and memorable music.
Homeschool has the distinct advantage of “going with the flow” so to speak, so use that flexibility when including music. Have your children listen; truly listen to all the different types of music. Visit the public library and check out various CDs of classical, country, big band, oldies, blues, bluegrass, hymns, or jazz music. Have your students close their eyes and listen for one particular instrument’s sound to appreciate its contribution to the piece. Play the same music a second time to listen for a different instrument.
Was the music joyful or sad, silly or serious, calming or intense? Was the music soft or loud, or did it change in tempo? If there were lyrics, what was the song about? Did it tell a story?
You can expand your study to learn about the origin of a particular style of music and a few of the more well known composers of that type of music. Learn the history of a specific time period and you’ll also discover how the music of that day reflected the social attitude. For example strong patriotic songs, often with a marching beat, were most prevalent during WWII while quite the opposite was true in the 1960s when many displayed an anti-war mind-set during Viet Nam. Many recordings reflected that sentiment.
For a special family time, share an instrumental orchestrated concert at a local outdoor band shell. Sitting under the stars on a warm summer night adds such a wonderful atmosphere as the sounds of the individual instruments blend uniquely together and carry the music through the air. It’s like having surround-sound multiplied many times over!
Don’t be afraid your homeschoolers won’t “take” to music from other eras in history, or that they’ll turn their nose up at the whole idea of truly appreciating music for what it is. They may not let you know, but they will listen differently. Let them watch a movie without sound. They’ll discover just how much a part of their life music really is, and they’ll be surprised to find that once they listen to it differently, their understanding, personal preferences, and appreciation of music in general will change. Experience is a great teacher!