If you are not a music teacher but you still want to have your child learn music in homeschool, what can you do? Well, you don’t need to send them to a music teacher right away. If you want them to learn music there is a way.
You can teach your child music in homeschool by creating an environment for music for young or older kids. Then introduce them to rhythm and beat in dance and then join a band, choir, or dance class to begin. After that, you may start them on an instrument to learn at home and in a class.
Environment for Music in the Homeschool
Most parents would agree that the environment for music or any subject matter is extremely important. A recent article by a leading author, professor, and researcher of child prodigies has highlighted this in this article with an excerpt below.
“I believe it’s so important for society to have an accurate understanding of how talent develops, and the environmental structures that support flourishing in every child. I recommend an educational system that exposes children to as many materials as possible, and leaves the door continually open for accelerated and enriched resources”SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
If you examine most music prodigies, they started very early and they were in the right environment. Most of the research shows it was by chance that all the right elements were in place. And the child and parents embraced the talent and nurtured the desire for learning an instrument. We recommend getting an early start and begin playing classical music at an early age for the child to be immersed in music. It also plays a soothing and calming effect in most children and can be a helpful tool for parents as also supported in this helpful article.
But don’t be too quick to use listening to music or the “Mozart effect” to help create a genius. This myth about it helping make kids smarter is not true. But setting the environment for music in the homeschool is helpful. It will be beneficial and you can keep it playing whether you have older or younger kids.
Get Kids to Move While Introducing Music
When you are just introducing music to younger kids, it’s important to get them involved in the music physically. Making music is more important than just listening to it. They must be involved and get a feel for the rhythm of the music. In homeschool, you can introduce an active course to get your kids moving and having fun while they are learning.
Time Magazine, Kraus
”Active participation and meaningful engagement translate into children being highly involved in their musical training”
If you have teenagers or older kids whom you would like to learn about music and possibly an instrument, this is possible too! Perhaps you can encourage your child to learn something more modern like jazz, pop or other more mainstream music to learn. You don’t have to stick to classical music. Another way to introduce music to older kids is to encourage not just learning by themselves but in a band. This is a super way for meeting new friends and taking a break from the usual seatwork and studying at home or in class.
Join a Band for Music Appreciation and Learning
If your child already plays an instrument you may consider having them join a local school band. This is possible in many school districts so just check your local regulations. Learning an instrument with others in a band is the best of both worlds. They can be active and learn about music, play in a team environment, and have time to socialize with other kids. The benefits of music and learning in this group environment are worth the time invested. And you may even consider a chorus if a band is not a choice. The idea is to have an outside music activity or class and then also be able to learn and practice in your homeschool.
Introduction to Rhythm and Beat of Music in Dance
One great way to teach about music in homeschool is for kids to join a dance class such as hip hop or any other dance style. Wait, is this music or dance? Well, we think it’s a little of both. You will need to know how to listen to the beat and rhythm of the music and coordinate your body to learn the dance moves. Our 6-year-old son loves to dance hip hop and we think it’s a super way for him to move with the music and have fun while learning. For younger kids, there are also other options if you prefer most music-oriented courses like Orff, and it combines action, and group play with music. Learn more about this fascinating and fun way to learn about music with your homeschool child.
Dance can also be a gateway to music and we have also tried this with our son and so far he loves it. Hip hop music and dancing with other kids is fun for him so far. We get to practice with him at home and it makes him aware of the beat. This is a great way to get some music and learn music in your homeschool with fun. Check out this helpful article that also explains music and dance and the benefits.
Begin Learning an Instrument at 5 to 6 Years Old
If you have a younger child around 5-6 years old, this is ideal to start learning an instrument. My wife who is a piano and cello teacher regularly teaches kids of this age with good results. If the child begins to learn about music earlier in the homeschool, this is ideal. However, if you start with an instrument like a recorder, piano, or violin, these are a few of the main instruments kids are able to play at this age. They are the right size and relatively easy to play. Even as a parent with no musical experience you can play a role in maintaining or sparking the interest of a child to learn music.
This article from the National Endowment for the Arts sums it up best and shows us what we can do to generate interest in children’s for music. Another PBS article we found helpful states that there is a ‘window of opportunity” up to age 9 to generate interest for music. Either way, we recommend starting with an instrument your child agrees to try. No sense in forcing them to do something they are not interested in. As mentioned, my wife is a music teacher, and we have tried to start our son to play the cello in our homeschool. He is having fun so far!
Select the Right Instrument for Your Child
There will be a point when you must select the right musical instrument for your homeschool child. Firstly, we suggest following some practical advice from my wife the music teacher. Choose an instrument your child expresses interest in and that they can actually physically play. Some instruments are just too big or bulky or the small hands of the child will not be able to operate. Just follow the advice of the local music shop for this. But the first instruments that are practical are the piano and violin.
The violin and piano are good starter instruments and even young or old children can use them with ease. I say “use” them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can play them well, that comes later! My wife is a cellist and would love for my son to lay as well. We have a smaller scale cello, and they do make a range of sizes of these instruments for children to play as well. They have ¼, ⅛, ½ sizes of the cello or violin and some other string instruments like the viola and violin. It’s ok to choose a size that is slightly smaller than they need, rather than being too big. If the instrument is too large or bulky it can cause problems like being too hard to play or tiring easily. And the music will also suffer and that certainly will discourage your child.
Choosing the Right Size Cello
Set Practice Time of 30 Minutes per Day
A minimum of 30 minutes per day of practice should be scheduled with your regular curriculum. This is what my music teacher wife recommends and you may start off with less in the beginning and work your way up as needed. But to learn an instrument, you will need to do daily practice. Music is like math and that also requires daily practice or you can easily forget the basics. It’s also been researched that the sensory training from music lessons has many positive effects as you can see in this very informative article.
Not only will your child learn a great skill for life, but they will also have other positive effects and better brain development. Having your child learn music in homeschool will also develop their good habits and discipline and they will learn how practice can lead to better results. And that adjusting and practicing can have real implications and result in higher performance. Over time they will see that they are able to play a song and make music by themselves. This is a satisfying experience they will have once they can play their first song by themselves.
Recording During Practice for Improvements
It’s also recommended to record the practice session of your homeschool child to easily show the progress and for teachers and parents to zoom in on the areas that your student needs to improve on. This can be for review with an outside music teacher, online teacher, or just for parents to review. Nowadays with smartphones and tablets, it’s very convenient to record video and decent quality sound for review. You will also have a record of the progress and you can keep the best session in a digital portfolio. This is a part of your homeschooling records you may keep.
Your student may also upload these videos directly to Youtube, or you may send them directly to the teachers for review and feedback. My wife does this with her students and it works well for 2 reasons. Firstly, it makes the students practice! This is already sometimes an issue for them to keep up with the work. And secondly, it provides the parents with a record and they can view the progress of their child. It provides dialogue with parents and gets them involved. For some parents, it helps by serving as a reminder to supervise the practice session and engage with their child. Parental engagement is beneficial to foster the homeschool child’s musical talents.
Learn the Basics With Your Child
Just like you need to learn the basics of a subject before you can teach it, a musical instrument is no different. Be ready to take some basic instruction with your child either online or in person. For example, how would you know how to position a cello in relation to your body? And you will need to learn how to sit up correctly and how to hold the bow before you even start playing. Most likely you should learn some basic music reading skills as well. While it’s not imperative, it will be helpful when you are supervising your child in the beginning. However, if you have an older child this is probably not entirely necessary.
Some parents might even take this a step further and fully engage and learn with the child. That might mean learning together or separately. And practicing might also be together or separately which can be fun to do with your child. But the principle is that if you are participating and learning with your child they might be more receptive. And they have a greater interest in doing it together. But it will take patience and your valuable time to be able to learn an instrument. According to a fun calculator on the Hoffman Academy website if you want to achieve a Level 3 by yourself, and you practice 30 minutes per day 5 days per week, it will take you over 4 years to achieve.