Closer Look: Music

What is music? For homeschoolers, it’s lullabies, silly songs, friends and neighbors making music for their own enjoyment, informal concerts, maybe formal concerts, and the opportunity to truly develop their musical talent. – Larry and Susan Kaseman

I grew up surrounded by aunts and uncles who were passionate artists and musicians. I have fond memories of listening to some of them playing an instrument or singing along while one of them played. My younger sister loved parades, so during one summer gathering our aunts and uncles put together a wonderful, musical parade up and down the street for her. I was a teenager at the time, and although the parade was specifically for my sister, their passion for life and love for their family remains in my heart to this day.

Many of those dear family members were gone by the time I had my own children, but I wanted my children to at least have the opportunity to explore music on their own and know others who share a passion for it. We have always had a variety of instruments available in our house from the time our children were babies and hey have had easy access to a keyboard, violin, guitar, dulcimer and a variety of easy to use instruments such as recorders, tambourines, harmonicas and triangles. Only two of us have had any formal lessons, but we have enjoyed playing an instrument, singing , attending a concert or just listening to a favorite CD.


The Mozart Effect – Rebecca Rupp

In 1993, a pair of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, showed that schoolchildren exposed to as little as ten minutes’-worth of complex classical music – the scientists favored Mozart piano sonatas – showed significant leaps in spatial-temporal reasoning abilities, which is the sort of intelligence that allows people to do jigsaw puzzles and solve geometry problems. This discovery, now known as the “Mozart effect,” has since been transposed to a number of other mind-boosting scenarios: music students have been found to have higher IQ and SAT scores than the musically deprived; kids who listen to classical music from an early age display enhanced math and reading skills.


Solomon Heads Home – David Albert

A mother, an old e-mail friend who I first met in person at a music festival where she recognized me and the kids from our pictures in my book, approached me in the crowded hallway of a large homeschooling conference with a problem.

“It’s my son, “she said. “He wants to stop playing the violin. I can’t get him to practice anymore. And his teacher can’t seem to get through either.”

I could easily see she was asking for more than sympathy; she wanted an answer. She knew I have two committed musicians for daughters, and she hoped I would have some magic words, some mystical formula that would cause her son to recommit and reapply himself.

Unschooling – How Elvis Appears to Unschoolers – Sandra Dodd

Once long ago, in 1993, on Prodigy’s Homeschooling bulletin board, I wrote this, and it conjured Elvis:

“Some time back there was a request for songs to be sung which would be educational. As music itself is a discipline, I think any music can be used as an educational tool. It can tie in with physical activity, mathematics, physics, history, geography, art, language, and it can be used to get kids excited and awake, or calm and asleep, or anything in between. I don’t mean singing about math or history, either, but discussing the form of the music, the rhythm, the moods, the origins, the instruments on which it is traditionally played, the length and pattern of the verses (or phrases, or whatever), what its purpose is (a march, background music for a movie or for an 18th century fireworks show, a lullaby, a love song), etc.

“Don’t miss this fun and easy opportunity to tie different “subjects” together by using a song as a jumping off place to many different discussions. If you need ideas, name a song here and see how many suggestions you can get for it!”

A Visit with Mary Hood – Janine Calsbeek

Mary once taught piano lessons. In their days before kids, she and her husband Roy played in a bluegrass band. (They’re from Georgia, after all.) So, when their oldest was a first grader, she included Music 101 in the Hood homeschool curriculum.

“We went through a year of teacher-directed stuff,” she said. It didn’t work. Instead she decided to return to making music herself. The kids saw that their parents liked it and that it was a real part of life. “Now Sam is a fantastic classical guitar player. Ginny does musical theater, Dan plays bass in a band and Laura plays piano.” The youngest, Steve, 6, hasn’t decided his musical forte yet.

Homeschooling Books (The Home School Source Book, Third Edition, by Jean and Donn Reed)- Lillian Jones

Every subject has been expanded–some enormously. Jean is a musician, and her touch is quite evident in the Music section, with seasoned advice and plenty of resources. For example, Jean shares this bit of helpful reassurance: “Speaking from my experience, I would not, as a parent be discouraged if a child started and stopped music lessons or changed instruments over a period of years. Many people try various instruments before they find the one that’s right for them and many adults who had music lessons as a child and stopped playing, start playing again.

When Dad Homeschools: from Breadwinning to Baking – Jim Dunn

Tianli had taken up the banjo, because her uncle had given her a fretless wooden one he had made. Her interest had come after some work with the guitar, for which I had mistakenly enrolled her in lessons. Essentially, the lessons watered her spark of interest, as they were very boring, plunk-plunk practice. The guitar lessons had driven her bonkers, so she decided very reasonably to quit the note plunking and go her own way of learning chords and singing. This is again a story of my learning not to lead, as my fear of dilettantism had brought me to imagine her to be making “progress.” Because I wanted her advanced and “showable,” for my own emotional purposes, I could not see myself, or her learning style, clearly. So, I kept on pushing.


The Berklee Shares Web site offers free music lessons that you can download. The site description reads:

Berklee Shares is:

* Individual self-contained music lessons developed by Berklee faculty and alumni.
* Free and open to the music community around the world.
* A library of MP3 audio, QuickTime movie, and PDF files.
* A glimpse into the educational opportunities provided by Berklee.


Music Lesson from Wikipedia

“While many individuals are content to play a musical instrument “by ear” or by practicing individual pieces until a reasonable proficiency is achieved, others wish to develop mastery of one or more instruments, and commonly seek formal instruction in the form of music lessons. For people attempting to learn their first instrument, typical elements of such a lesson are as follows.”

Music Resources from Eclectic Homeschool Online

If HEM Takes a Closer Look at music has sparked an interest, you might consider exploring a few of these resources from HEM’s Guide to Homeschooling Resources.

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One Response to Closer Look: Music

  1. Music » Closer Look: Music on October 5, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    […] Carl Howe wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe Berklee Shares Web site offers free music lessons that you can download. The site description reads:. Berklee Shares is:. * Individual self-contained music lessons developed by Berklee faculty and alumni. … […]

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