Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 43 – How I Approach Music Appreciation. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
I have been asked multiple times to discuss my approach to music appreciation. I like keep this very simple. My goal is to introduce my kids to a variety of music and explore different ways of making music. What I do in my homeschool might differ from yours, because I tend to focus on what we enjoy. In our house that is rock music. In your house, it might be classical, country, or pop. Of course, we do explore all of those other genres, but the bulk of our time will inevitably be spent playing music that my husband and I love. Although K-Pop has somehow infiltrated.
When my children were small, I would put on classical music for them while they played or while we were having quiet time. They also loved watching those old Baby Einstein videos, and later the Little Einstein TV show. That introduced them to a wide range of different instruments. We also read a book about the orchestra, and we talked about different composers.
As they got older, I introduced them to musicals and show tunes. This is my bread and butter, I live and die for musicals and I wanted to try to instill that love in my kids. We watched Annie, The Pirates of Penzance, Fiddler on the Roof, The 10th Anniversary Les Miserables concert… the classics. Later we listened to Hamilton on repeat, Six the Musical, and Hadestown.
They all learned an instrument but had varying interest levels. Sarah and Regina only had a year or two of piano, but the twins took guitar and drum lessons and later piano for many years. In the course of their studies, they listened to a lot of classic rock and metal like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. My husband also took the twins to several concerts ranging from heavy metal Black Sabbath and Slayer to classic rock Vanilla Fudge and Cream tributes.
Now, with my youngest daughter, we have started doing something a little bit different. I wanted to be more intentional with our approach, so I bought Music Lab: We Rock and The History of Rock for Big Fans and Little Punks. I went through Music Lab and wrote all the musicians and bands on post-it notes and then put them in a mug. Each week, my daughter draws a band from the mug and that is our music for the week. Somehow she figured out what a Rick-Roll was and wrote in Rick Astley for the first week and “drew” that paper from the top. Although NOT in the book, we did play “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Then she promptly picked a real selection for the rest of the week’s listening.
We read the pages pertaining to that week’s music selection on Monday morning over breakfast. Then as we eat, we listen to a song or three depending on the artist. When possible, I find Youtube videos of performances so she can see them performing. After listening, we talk about what we like or dislike about it. That’s about it, but we repeat the process daily. I keep it simple because I want to leave room for her to explore without feeling like this is a lesson that can only happen during school.
Just last week, we ran through a rather large chunk of the Beatles catalogue. I selected several songs each day, as they are one of my favorites. Regina seemed to tolerate them, but not quite as enthusiastically as I did.
Some weeks she is into it and wants to listen to more. Some weeks she stops me on Tuesday and says she would like to move on. (Sorry, Johnny Cash fans, he didn’t last the week.) I don’t force it. We talk a lot about influences and how music that was considered risqué in the 60s feels tame compared to what shocks people today. I love these kinds of conversations because they come about completely organically.
Like anything, I want music to be a positive influence in my children’s lives. We listen to music daily, talk about what we like, and try to take in live performances when possible. We even make time for impromptu dance parties and sing-alongs. With the advent of so many music channels, literally in the palm of your hand, there is almost no time you don’t have some sort of music at the ready. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, SirusXM, you name it, they got it. Old favorites or new recommendations, there is always something to listen to, and discuss.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.