Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Music in the Homeschool Curriculum

Since learning that I have a background in music education, a homeschool mom friend of mine asked me recently to help her figure out what to do with music. I felt a pang of guilt as I have not been very consistent about incorporating music into our homeschool at home, and used my poor health as an excuse. Yes, that's right, I have a master's degree in music, but I have taught my children music only sporadically. I am of the opinion that the three R's (reading, writing, arithmetic) come first, followed by history/geography, then science and fine arts, so when I have been short on energy it was enough just to get the three R's and history covered. The way around that has been to hire music teachers to teach the children instruments even though I was capable (but too sick) of teaching them myself. Sometimes I would ask God, "Why? What good is my music degree if I can't use it with my children?" but He has his purposes, and I have learned some measure of contentment.

This year, things are different already. We are not farming out our music instruction. With the Classical Conversations Curriculum Guide (only $25 if you buy an old edition from their website) and a tin whistle (also purchased from their website) I am teaching Caleb to play this simple wind instrument, made for the key of D, on a variety of songs, while Alexa plays along on her flute (she is already quite accomplished from past lessons and band involvement). We spend no more than 15 minutes a day on it, and will probably only need about 6 weeks before he masters the instrument. Then we will move on to other things, like reading aloud The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers by David Cavanaugh. I highly recommend this book. Even with my music degrees--one from a "Christian" university--I am almost completely ignorant of the degree to which the classical composers professed faith in Christ. My Christian college followed the same secularized curricula that has been dished out for a century by nonChristian colleges, so this book has been an eye-opener and a blessing. There is also a sequel, I believe, which I have not yet read.
I have also borrowed The Gift of Music from a friend and recommend it too. So just add to these some classical CDs, play them, name the tunes, and start reading to your kids. Don't be intimidated; you can do it without a music degree!

2 comments:

Tania said...

Wonderful!! My son wants to learn the piano!

Peggy said...

Great tips, Arden! I'll have to check out those books.
Happy homeschooling!
Peggy