For most people, music is part of the fabric of our lives. It’s part of our religious experiences, it becomes part of our memories of different seasons of our lives and, for those who actually become musicians or singers themselves, it offers education and the discipline of learning a new skill.
This week’s post, written by my guest Gerald Crawford, offers 5 steps you can take to help inspire a love of music in your children. It may also inspire them to take a further step to play an instrument or otherwise immerse themselves in some aspect of music production.
Which serves as a good lead-in to another post which will be published in a couple of weeks dealing with guiding your child who may be interested in a career in music.
I hope that you read and share this post, and be looking out for the next post that will offer more tips to help your child as they learn and grow in their love for, and participation in, a very powerful force: music.
5 Steps to Inspiring a Love of Music in Your Children by Gerald Crawford
Are you like me? Do you incorporate music into almost everything you do? Well, if you are, and if you are also a homeschooling parent, you have likely developed some ideas about how to integrate music into your homeschool curriculum. However, if you’ve not yet figured out how to fit music education into your curriculum, or you’re looking for more ideas to inspire, then allow me to reassure you that there are ways to do this and make it fun for your children (and you!)
Music education should not be intimidating and boring — for you or your children. Music education is important and studies support the positive advantages to integrating music education into your child’s homeschooling curriculum. If you haven’t yet included this into your curriculum, then come on along with me while we briefly discuss some simple ideas that will help you do this.
1. Generate a music background to totally immerse your children in music they will enjoy.
You’ve worked hard to create just the perfect atmosphere for your children to learn in your homeschool situation. You’ve incorporated many little things and many experiences and you have engineered just the right mix for your children and their needs.
Why not add music to this mix? By surrounding them with melodic tunes from sources like radio, CD’s, and singing their favorite songs to them, you’re giving them a firm musical foundation very early in life. I am convinced that this is why I was so attracted to learning to play the guitar. My parents were forever playing the latest hits from ELO and 10cc back in the late 1970’s (yes I’m that old!) but I have no doubt that having this upbringing gave me a special appreciation for music.
When I got married and we had our son and daughter, I did the same thing in our home, except we were listening to anything from Bon Jovi to Kylie in the 1990’s. It definitely had a positive musical effect on them as my son Gary now plays guitar and my daughter Carla plays the piano, or to be more accurate, she now plays keyboards in a band called R51 around the Belfast area in Northern Ireland. I already played the guitar and was able to give my son beginner guitar lessons, but none of us played piano so we found a good music teacher for Carla. We found music instruction could be done, and relatively inexpensively.
Consider how children learn to speak, for example. This skill did not come or develop overnight. It was learned over several years and through several different methods of teaching…like the cooing and baby talk we did while we cuddled them as infants…like the walks in the park when you pointed out and explained what they were seeing…like those bedtime stories you read to them on so many nights. You covered them in the spoken word and they developed a skill in the language. All you need to do with music education is to apply it in a similar fashion.
2. Frequent attendance at live musical concerts in your area.
This is a great way to familiarize your children with different musical instruments and the musicians who play them. Music is so much more than an auditory encounter. By watching the musician’s hands and fingers manipulate the keys and strings, you can not only hear the melodic tones but you can “feel” the excitement, happiness, disappointment and fatigue that the musician is conveying through the musical piece.
Your children will feel these same emotions when they’re in attendance at a live concert. This will add a new dimension to their listening experience! Another benefit that you may not have considered about live concerts – there is the possibility that your child could meet and speak to those same musicians who, only moments before, mesmerized them. They can talk about the desire, the drive, and the determination that was required to get them to their goal.
And you don’t have to go to world-class sell-out concerts with thousands of people to experience this. There are plenty of small venues where you can see musicians performing and the good thing about these events is that they only attract people who are there to enjoy the music. They can help your child understand the importance of committing to something and giving it their all. This is a valuable lesson and these experiences are something they will no doubt always remember.
3. Locate an apprenticeship in the music area for your kids.
Try to locate someone who can not only be a teacher but a mentor as well. This person could not only teach your child how to play, but also how to maintain, care for, and repair the instrument as they work alongside them. How wonderful to give your kids the chance to learn the rewards of music appreciation and learn a new skill, too.
Something like learning how to restring a guitar and re-tuning it isn’t particularly difficult, but you have to know how, and there are a couple of tweaks you can do to the instrument whilst doing this. There is no substitute for watching it being done first-hand and then doing it yourself.
Once your child knows how to string a guitar – or any stringed instrument – or knows how to clean and oil their trumpet, for instance, it will be a skill they will never forget. By learning to complete these tasks your child will gain even more confidence in their instrument because of the knowledge they have gained.
4. Consider the advantages offered by the internet
There are thousands of websites on the internet that are suitable for your kids to learn interactively about music as well as be entertained by it. You could utilize video games as well. Your kids will be excited by all of this because it won’t seem so much as if they are “in class,” but it will feel more like play time. There are even guitar lessons for the beginner which take the student from the absolute basics to intermediate and advanced levels. I still use these courses to brush up on my skills and its always refreshing to find different ways to play the same tunes.
5. Build on the association that exists between their classroom subjects and music
If you are a history buff, then you can appreciate that music has existed in some form or another in every human culture for most of our history. You can relate this fact to some of the historical events that you’re likely to be studying.
You can also use nature to teach them to listen to the songs the birds sing, the tunes played by the crickets and frogs along the creek, or the whistling melody of the wind blowing through the tree tops.
Music is truly present in almost everything we do. Music education can be fun and exciting and doesn’t have to be scary or boring. Use your imagination and your favorite internet search tool to find ways to fit it into your homeschool setting.