Homeschooling parents who want to introduce some form of music instruction into their child's curriculum may have a difficult time knowing where to start. This is less true if you have an extensive background in music education, such as if you used to play the clarinet in the school band.
What if you feel like those skills are too rusty to be of use? Or, what if you never had much in-depth music training, and this leaves you feeling like you have nothing to impart to your children?
The important thing is to not be intimidated. Music surrounds us everywhere we go. We hear it in commercial jingles and pop songs. It filters through churches in the form of hymns, and you may even hear it when your child hums a tune she made up herself.
The lowdown here is that music is accessible. We're all more or less familiar with the subject, and if you've been wishing that you knew more about it, then you'll be glad to learn that it's never too late to start. Plus, your child will discover many amazing advantages when they study music in any capacity.
Any homeschooling parent who feels intimidated by the idea of teaching music may want to consider beginning the process with some music appreciation coursework. Think of it as an opportunity for you and your children to understand and enjoy new subject matter on a much deeper and more meaningful level.
Take this journey with your children. It's one that you'll remember for the rest of your life, and so will they.
What Is Music Appreciation?
Look at the offered courses in just about any high school or college catalog, and you're bound to see at least one Music Appreciation class. This is the class that non-musical people take when they need to satisfy some kind of arts credit or when they simply feel the need to understand how and why music moves them.
The beauty of music appreciation is that it is suitable for absolutely anyone. You don't have to be able to read music, play the piano or compose for it to be informative and enjoyable. If you have ever loved a particular song or tapped your foot in time to music, then you are more than qualified to succeed with music appreciation, even if you are the teacher.
In a typical music appreciation course, instructors help their students to understand what to listen for in music and why it's important. Classical music frequently provides the backbone of the curriculum, with students learning not only about the music but also the people who composed it. Throw in some education with regard to the social, historical and scientific background of the era, and you have the basic formula for a music appreciation class.
Don't feel intimidated by classical music. It's probably more accessible and recognizable than you know. You'll be surprised by how many of the better-known classics are familiar thanks to movies, television and commercials.
Plus, music appreciation classes don't have to just be about classical music. You also could study folk songs, the Jazz Age, Big Band music or popular music like The Beatles. There's no need to be restrictive since you can tailor the curriculum to suit your child's particular interests.
Part of the coursework in these classes involves listening to music. Most of this music is recorded, but it's not unusual for a class to take a field trip to listen to a live performance by an orchestra or other ensemble.
Why Teach Music Appreciation?
Perhaps the best reason to teach music appreciation is simply for the love of music. If you're looking for a deeper or more substantive answer, then it's important to consider numerous perspectives.
You might introduce music appreciation into your homeschool curriculum for any of these reasons:
- To understand how music improves the quality of life
- To enhance well-being
- To understand why music has value
- To gain another perspective on a particular historical era
- To improve emotional intelligence
- To unlock greater creativity
Essentially, the study of music appreciation involves taking a deep dive into the "why" of music. Why did the composer write a particular piece? What was he or she feeling or experiencing that resulted in that outpouring of auditory emotion?
Studying music appreciation sharpens hearing and observational skills. You and your children may find that you can hear more in any recorded piece of music than you ever thought was possible. It's this kind of attentiveness that can carry over into every aspect of your homeschooling experience and your lives.
With a basis in music appreciation, you may find that you are prepared to take on even more music instruction in your homeschool setting. These opportunities may include playing instruments, learning about melody or exploring rhythm.
How to Teach Music Appreciation in the Homeschool Environment
No matter what kind of teacher you are, you'll find appropriate curricula for introducing your kids to music appreciation. Of course, you're free to develop your own, unique curriculum, but you may find it much easier, not to mention more fun and convenient, to choose a curriculum that's ready to go.
One of these options is Zeezok Publishing's Music Appreciation course. Designed as a two-year series, the coursework introduces seven notable composers. In addition to biographical books, each installment includes CDs with the composer's music, a lapbook CD and an activity book.
While this series is geared toward elementary and middle school students, the content is engaging and interesting enough to hold the attention of high school students and adults.
The series covers many of the most notable classical composers. These include:
The course is laid out so that about four weeks are spent on each composer. You get plenty of activities and ideas with this kit, making it an excellent way to introduce kids and yourself to music appreciation.
If you prefer a more DIY approach, then consider visiting your local library to see what options they offer as far as classical music CDs. Supplement this with biographies of the composers that you'll be listening to. This approach requires more prep work on your part, but it can still be effective, and it works particularly well if your kids prefer not to be hemmed in by a program as it allows them the freedom to pursue a composer or style of music that interests them.
Rely on a Trustworthy Music Appreciation Website
If you and your kids are tech-inclined, then you may love the classicsforkids.com website. You have so many options for listening and learning with this fantastic website. Each week, a new lesson is highlighted. Expect content like Johann Sebastian Bach and the Story of the Brandenburg Concertos or Gioachino Rossini: Weather in Music and much more.
With quizzes, activity sheets, dictionaries, a guide to the instruments of the orchestra and opportunities for kids to compose their own music, Classics for Kids is an unbeatable resource.
Check out the Prodigies Blog for Homeschooling Tips
Hop on to the Prodigies Blog for tips on how to teach your child at home. We offer a Free Webinar that will give actionable ideas, games, resources, app recommendations, video tutorials & PDF downloads to jumpstart your child’s musical journey.
Try a Fun and Informative CD Collection
The Maestro Classics 12 CD Collection features performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing selections from varied composers such as Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Stravinsky.
You and your children will explore memorable classics like The Nutcracker, Carnival of the Animals, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Peter and the Wolf among others.
In addition to music, each of the 12 CDs is packed with fun learning and information. It's all presented in such a fascinating manner, that your kids may not even realize that they are learning, and you will probably enjoy it too.
Music Appreciation at AllinOneHighSchool.com
If you have a teenager who is looking for a program that feels more like an independent study project, then take a closer look at this course at AllinOneHighSchool.com.
It's a 90-day course for which students earn one-half credit. Through the coursework, they are introduced to an amazing array of music that stretches from the Baroque era to the Jazz Age. Students who complete the class are able to identify the sounds of various instruments and well as the different musical periods.
With introductions to music terminology and theory, this is a great option for teens.
Add Music to Your Kids' Lives
Music appreciation doesn't have to only happen in school. Play classical music, jazz, swing, bluegrass and anything else you can find to expose your kids to new styles. Take advantage of local performance troupes so that the whole family can enjoy the excitement of live music.
When Your Kids Are Ready for More
At Prodigies Music, we offer an assortment of music-learning curricula that are designed to help kids of all abilities discover the joy of music. Neither you nor your child need to have any experience with music to enjoy our programs.
We believe in making music fun and approachable for everyone. Our programs are suitable for one-on-one instruction, homeschooling, classrooms and more.
When you sign up with Prodigies Music, you and your children gain access to more than 500 colorful video lessons that will have your little ones singing, playing and engaging in no time.
We've thought of everything so that you don't have to. You can use our many programs as well as sheet music, lesson plans, checklists and worksheets.
Perhaps the most exciting part of our programs is the opportunity for kids to play music. Using instruments like Deskbells, a xylophone or recorder, you'll be surprised by how quickly your child picks up the rudiments of playing and composing music.
Whether your child is one, 10 or older, there's a program at Prodigies Music that's designed just for them.