Homeschooling, an alternative way of education, is a great way for parents to take charge of their child’s education, it includes organizing subjects and arranging the best teaching methods to teach their children. What better teacher can a child have than the most important people in their lives with their absolute best interests at heart.
Most parents are usually very good at teaching textbook subjects such as Science, English and Math but when it comes to fine arts such as Music they have a hard time figuring out what to do. Music is the soul of life, it is entertaining, very motivating and can make a powerful contribution to a child’s development as I’m sure most parents would agree, but how do you go about it?
I’m going to contradict myself here, but the best starting point is to try to separate music lessons from the other subjects whilst also having music involved in everyday living, so what do I mean by this?
Well, its really important to keep the music lessons enjoyable and fun, children need to learn to read, write and count as well as learn about science and history just to function in life. Thats simply a fact and something that they must be taught whether they enjoy it or not, music however, is different.
Have music playing in the home as much as possible, and I don’t mean blasting out heavy metal 24/7, but just at an ambient background level and you will find that the kids take it in and enjoy it. When it comes to putting down the text books don’t dive straight into a music lesson, take it at a slow pace and get involved yourself and try to play something even if you can’t. Children can be very self conscious about starting to play an instrument so make the lessons at irregular intervals or different days each week and try to do it on their terms.
In order for a child to learn to play the guitar, piano or whatever they must first want to learn. Yes you can push them into taking a guitar course or piano lessons but if they are not enjoying it then they are not going to get very far and may come to resent learning to play at all.
My father taught me to play the guitar at home because it was something I really wanted to learn, my sister on the other hand wasn’t so keen to learn the piano but, after some gentle persuasion from my mom, she decided to give it a go. My mom can play a little piano and taught her the basics before they found a music teacher to come and give her lessons, the teacher was a bit “old school” and my sister just felt like it was a chore to learn and eventually gave it up altogether.
My point is, it is so critical to avoid this situation in the first place, and one of the best ways to go about this is to approach it from a fun and leisurely aspect, by looking at it from a fun point of view the child is far more likely to be drawn towards a musical instrument and as their curiosity grows it will become clearer as to what type of instrument they are interested in.
I truly think that so many more children would take up some sort of musical instrument if only they were gently encouraged in the right direction.
If you are going to employ a music teacher then think it through, check their references and talk to some of their other students to hear what they have to say. A good music teacher for homeschoolers is one who has full knowledge of music (both vocal and instrumental), is patient with children and who has flexible timing to adjust with the ever changing schedules homeschoolers.
Learning music requires us to interpret new information, so it’s the duty of a music teacher to give all the elementary information to their students and then slowly move from basic knowledge to advanced.
From personal experience I know that the best candidates are more relaxed in their approach which makes them more likable and acceptable to kids. These teachers tend to have a nice way about them and are good at sharing their knowledge about the subject and can make music more innovative and interesting.
If you want to teach your children about music then listen up and try to find out their favorite songs, then spend a little time with them to watch the artists perform the songs online or on DVD. They will see which instruments are being played and will be more likely to want to try to play one, this is a good way to narrow down what they might be interested in as its not realistic to go out and buy a whole selection of different instruments.
I can remember wanting to learn to play the guitar and once I finally got my hands on one for the first time there was something very special about the touch and feel of actually holding it, and it gave me a real urge to want to learn to play it.
So once you’ve specified what instrument your child wants to play, give it to them so that they know its theirs to keep, its important to give them that responsibility and so now you haven’t made the mistake forcing them to learn an instrument of your choice, because you cannot force a child to learn to play. Music comes from the soul so just listen to your childrens’ soul.
The other way for homeschoolers to learn music is to take advantage of musical opportunities at community centers, clubs, churches, after school programs etc. Groups of homeschooling families often join together to create home school co-ops. These types of musical groups meet once or twice a week to pool their talent and get some musical knowledge from others as well. They provide an informal environment for the children and they get the opportunities to meet different people with different musical knowledge. In this type of atmosphere, students get the chance to do hands-on and group learning and its the perfect opportunity to perform in front of a group of people in a comfortable and like minded environment.
Another effective way is to go online. Online resources include study material, audio video notes, instrumental and vocal clippings etc. So many online musical educators have developed musical curriculum where students can learn to play any musical instrument in step by step courses.
There are any amount of piano, drums and guitar lessons for the beginner and I still use the internet for hints and tips on improving my own guitar playing. The beauty about the internet is that whether or not you have a music teacher, you can be very specific in what you are looking for.
For instance it’s easier to learn to play electric guitar than it is to learn to play acoustic guitar because of the differences in the thickness of the guitar fretboards and the weight of the strings, and it’s better to learn to play the piano on a genuine piano, with a properly weighted keyboard to build up the strength in your fingers, as opposed to learning on a low quality electronic keyboard, and so with information like this you can really home in on what it is you want to learn.
So remember, if you keep it enjoyable and fun, and if you start out on the right track from the outset, it can save a lot of time and make a big difference on how your child progresses.
By Gerald Crawford