Summer Term Learning – Adding Music Instruction to our Routine

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Summer Learning

how we are adding music instruction to our homeschool during our Summer Term, ideas about expression and modeling in a Classical homeschool

Often, I compare our homeschool to a musical. We sing so regularly and suddenly. One minute we are having a conversation. The next minute we are singing!

Interestingly, my kids are not actually interested in musicals – other than the Disney animated ones. Oh, and another fun fact – I am not a singer. I love to sing – absolutely love it! But no one – other than my kids – has ever asked me to sing. It’s like they can sense I would not be lovely to hear.

Ok. I digress. As I said, we are big into singing and music around here. But I would rate our music education game as sub-par, at best.

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I have friends whose kids are already accomplished musicians on various instruments. My kids have never taken a music class outside of our yearly Classical Conversations unit on tin whistle. Don’t get me wrong – the tin whistle is a beautiful thing. {smile and move on…smile and move on}

What We Do Right Regarding Music in our Homeschool

When it comes to music, we are getting some things right in our homeschool. Our daily routine includes listening to our Gathering playlist. These songs capture the attention of my kids almost subliminally. Since we hear the same hymns, the same spiritual songs, and the same Classical pieces every day for a month at a time, I find them humming a hymn or rapping out a rhythm on the counter.

Sometimes I have no idea just how much of an effect the Gathering is having on my kids. Then randomly, we will be in a store and a Classical piece will be on the speakers and my 5-year-old will shout out, “Mama, It’s the Ride of the Valkyries!” My little man is probably the most attuned to the Gathering playlist – I can always reach him with music.

We are also fitting in general music education thanks to Gena Mayo’s programs over at Music in our Homeschool. She has quite the lineup of education courses for homeschoolers over there. We have the Music in Our Homeschool + Membership and she is always adding more courses to it. I don’t think we will ever lack for options in our homeschool again!

Recently Gena added Summer Music Lesson for Holidays and Special Days. When she adds a course to her lineup, she runs generous sales. This one is currently 30% off! Use my link and the code: SUMMERMUSIC30 . My daughter is really going to enjoy the lesson for National Video Game Day!

Where We Are Lacking in Music Education

We certainly are not lacking in musical input around here. Where we are lacking is in the building blocks of music and expression. More than anything it is expression.

We have spent years inputting the “greats” of music. Training our ears to hear various instruments and melodies, we have appreciated. But we have no way of expressing ourselves musically.

I heard a lecture given by Andrew Pudewa in which he describes the learning going on when we do copy work. We are reading the passage, considering each word and its spelling. Then we are moving it from the eyes to the brains, through the arm and back out through the hand. The simplicity of his explanation has stayed with me not just for copy work, but for every part of education.

I believe we do not truly know something until we have expressed it. Expressing – telling a story or writing a simple poem – putting it into one’s own words is most meaningful way to demonstrate understanding. This is a concept which threads its way through every educational approach I can think of.

Currently, my students have one way of expressing themselves musically – humming or singing. Well, there’s also the banging, but we haven’t taken up drumming for a reason – Mama’s sanity. Oh, and my oldest considers herself a madly skilled beat boxer.

While the human body is a beautiful instrument for musical expression, I want to give my kids more than that.

What We are Adding to our Homeschool…Musically

Another educational philosophy to which I subscribe wholeheartedly is modeling. The idea of being the lead-learner in the homeschool speaks to my ongoing educational pursuits. To the extent I am enthusiastically learning a new thing, in front of my students, I am showing them how to learn that thing, too.

Piano Instruction

Last Christmas I asked my husband for a keyboard. This was an earthshattering, world-changing event. Not only have I never asked for any specific thing from him (ever), but I also had no idea how to play it. I set about learning to play the piano in earnest in January. I picked up the entire Suzuki piano series, as well as this book about teaching the Suzuki method for piano.

Learning to play the piano has been hard. In front of my kids, it has been especially hard. Failing in front of them and trying again without getting discouraged or angry is hard. Allowing them to witness my failures for extended periods of time before they see success? It’s hard.

I tell you all that to tell you my hard work has paid off. Not only can I play two two-handed songs(!) but I have interested my kids in learning to play the piano, too!

Thus, this summer we are going to add super simple piano instruction to our routine. Just a few minutes a day or week for my kids, depending on age and interest.

There are a number of online piano programs I have looked into over the past year. While we have selected one piano instruction path, I think these others would be immensely valuable, too:

  • Busy Kids Do Piano – online courses for kids (she has some for moms, too). Kids learn theory and technique.
  • Homeschool Piano – online video courses for kids. Kids learn not only theory and technique, but also improvisation.

Singing Instruction

Earlier this year I shared a new program with you called Singing Made Easy. At the time, we only had the opportunity and space in our homeschool to preview the program. All year since then, I have been itching to get back into it. We had such beautiful results from one single session! You have got to see my cute 3-year-old youngest improving drastically after one lesson.

Finally! We are returning to this program. I printed out all the resources and have the video instructions lined up for back up. One of the things I love about the program is how easy it is to get truly special results without leaving the house or paying for private music lessons.

As I said, I love to sing, but my enthusiasm for singing does not enable me to teach singing in a natural way. Now we can all learn together!

Currently these are the levels of Singing Made Easy available:

My hope with Singing Made Easy is to add just a few minutes of singing instruction and practice each day. One of the suggestions made in the course is to listen often to the music with the kids. This is easy to implement! I can do that while we are cleaning up or at the end of the school day. And my kids rarely need an invitation to sing along.

I am intentionally setting the bar rather low for musical instruction in our Summer Term. As I am looking to develop a long-term habit instead of a unit study, I figure starting small is best. If you are interested in more about starting homeschooling habits, I wrote a bit about the habits I am pursuing this Summer Term here.

how we are adding music instruction to our homeschool during our Summer Term, ideas about expression and modeling in a Classical homeschool

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