A major perk of homeschooling is deciding what topics and subjects you want to incorporate in your homeschool curriculum. While many students across the country do not have access to music education and programming, homeschoolers can provide music study as an integral part of our homeschools.
It’s easy to view music as an optional subject. After all, whereas basic math is pretty crucial for successful living, it’s unlikely you’ll be hindered if you’re not familiar with Tchaikovsky or know what instruments comprise an orchestra.
Unfortunately, we can be so focused on making sure we cover subjects that are considered “core subjects” (think math, social studies, language arts, etc.), that by the end of the school week, there is no time available for additional subjects.
Music Study Can Be Easy
Thankfully, incorporating music study in your homeschool doesn’t need to be a complicated affair. For elementary-aged students, music can be covered once or twice a week. If your student especially loves music, you have permission to include music every day in your homeschool. The decision is up to you!
Additionally, music study is a subject you can easily complete with all your students together. Many homeschool families choose to include this topic during group morning time. Morning time, which comes in many shapes and sizes, is a set-aside part of the school day (usually morning, but can be whenever) when all your children learn together. Common morning time studies include picture study, memorization work, poetry, hymns, read-aloud, Bible, etc.
Of course, with the broad range of homeschooling curriculums available today, you can easily purchase a program that provides everything you need. Don’t feel that you have to purchase an expensive curriculum, though! As with any subject, you can find the homeschool curriculum you need while on a budget, as there are plenty of simple and easy ways to successfully incorporate music study that are affordable or even free.
How To Include Music Study in Your Homeschool
1-Listen to a Variety of Musical Styles
We all have styles of music that are our favorites. It’s what we tend to listen to in the car or while we’re cooking and cleaning. However, music education can start with simply increasing the variety of music our children hear. When in the car with the kids, just play a few songs from a musical genre outside your normal repertoire.
The classical music station may not be programmed in your car’s radio, but this is a great place to start. Classical music is pretty simple without concern for questionable lyrics. You don’t even have to discuss the music, although questions that get the kids thinking about the music increases the fun factor.
Consider a few basic questions like: What instruments do you hear? How does the music make you feel (happy, sad, tired, etc.)? What can you imagine a cartoon character doing while this music plays?
You can further explore this music genre by choosing a few composers to learn about throughout the year. Start with playing a song or two of the composer’s most well-known works while eating breakfast or lunch or simply while doing chores. Include a couple of children’s books to provide an overview of the composer’s life. Add this book to your morning time routine or as a read-aloud at bedtime.
To make the most of music study in your homeschool, I highly suggest pursuing other musical genres as well. For example, over the years, we’ve enjoyed exploring Ragtime, Country & Western, Latin music, 50’s and 60’s “Golden Oldies,” Folk and Americana, and Jazz. Simply investigate an artist or two, play the music and see where it leads. It’s really that simple, and you might even discover new music that will become a family favorite!
2-Schedule a Visit to the Symphony
Many larger cities have their own symphony orchestras. Often held in beautiful theaters, a trip to the symphony is a musical adventure as well as an architectural and cultural one. Don’t be intimidated by the price of tickets. While expensive at full price, you can often find concert times with discounted pricing or even shows geared specifically toward children and families.
Consider checking with your local arts council or public library to investigate free concerts as well. Where I live, our public library provides cultural passes to various museums throughout the city, which includes the symphony! If the symphony is too overwhelming to consider, a smaller, less formal option could include a concert at a local college, university, or high school.
3-Include Music Lessons in your Homeschool
Growing up, I took piano lessons every week for years. Looking back, it would have been amazing if that time spent was counted as school! As a homeschooler, you can and should absolutely consider music lessons as part of the homeschool day. What better way to include music study in your homeschool than hands-on experience with an instrument?
My sons were interested in learning guitar a few years ago. Before I wanted to invest in a pricey instrument I wasn’t sure they would really stick with, we purchased inexpensive starter guitars. We chose a self-learning book for beginners, and the fun began.
Fortunately, a guitar-playing friend of ours met with them a few times to provide encouragement, inspiration and technical support. While they’re no longer pursuing guitar, they learned a great deal and now appreciate the discipline that learning an instrument requires.
Whether you decide to proceed in a professional way with lessons, join a homeschool orchestra or band, or just pursue self-learning at home, it’s presenting the opportunity to our kids that counts. See where they go with it and proceed accordingly.
4-Explore Unit Studies and Lapbooks
I’ve often shied away from purchasing music curricula for fear of investing in something I wasn’t sure I’d like or use. Also, when making decisions based on the homeschool budget, music was something I felt I could easily pull together with limited resources. If you have the time and energy for a bit of research, unit studies and lap books are a great option.
Unit studies are topic or theme-based and cover your key subject areas, which are entirely centered around a particular topic. For example, during an orchestra unit study, your student studies history and science, but both would be directly related to the orchestra. There are many ready-made unit studies available, or you can craft your own.
A lapbook approach is another option that allows plenty of hands-on learning for kids. In a nutshell, a lapbook is typically made from a file folder. You staple/glue in various pictures, mini-books, and other activities so they are in one handy-dandy place. You can find many free lapbook topics and more information about making your own lapbooks here.
All my children enjoy making lapbooks. For music study, you could complete a lapbook about the orchestra, specific composers, music history, or all three!
5-Utilize Free Online Resources for Music Study
Let’s face it: we have a lot going on as homeschool moms. We’re trying to juggle homeschooling and family life and make time for our own self-care. If you don’t have the bandwidth or time in your schedule right now to piece together resources, an online music curriculum might be just what you’re looking for.
One program I’ve utilized for this is Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool, which offers music courses in Ancient, Early American, Geography and Cultures, and Modern. It’s simple to navigate and use and requires very little preparation on my part. We never finished an entire course but simply used it to supplement our history studies.
Additionally, Ambleside Online is a very comprehensive resource for music study that aligns with a Charlotte Mason approach. You’ll find lists of composers, hymns, and folk music mapped out for an entire school year. It also includes links to the correlating pieces of music for ease of use. There are supplementary book lists as well. Who doesn’t love a ready-made book list?
Music Study Really Can Be Simple
I hope you’re convinced that including music study in your homeschool is a completely doable task, regardless of your confidence level. My best advice is to just pick an option listed above and give it a try. With intentional planning, you can include as little or as much music study as you like. When you take advantage of resources in your community or online, you’re sure to find something that will fit your homeschool lifestyle and budget.
- 5 Simple Ways to Include Music Study in Your Homeschool - May 8, 2023