The thing that I am most excited about this year in our homeschool is the music lessons that I have signed my girls up for.
Our church recently opened a Worship Arts Center where they are offering private and group music lessons in addition to children’s choirs.
I went to an information meeting and after speaking to the director, decided to sign EA and MC up for lessons. MC has been interested in playing the piano for a long time and EA has expressed an interest in learning to play the flute.
I’m so excited about this opportunity for them!
I was contacted last week by Gerald Crawford, a musician from Northern Ireland about a guest post on teaching music in your homeschool. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time!
Continue reading for Gerald’s Top Tips for Teaching Music in Your Homeschool.
6 Top Tips for Teaching Music in Your Homeschool
Homeschooling parents are responsible for ensuring that so many different aspects of education get covered – literature, mathematics, sciences, writing – and more. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming when deciding how to teach fine arts, such as music to children (especially if you’re like me and have a finite ability in one instrument).
Between our two children, Gary and Carla, we have explored and learned piano, guitar and a little bit of drums. We borrowed the drum kit from one of Gary’s friends so you don’t necessarily have to spend money when starting out. So you won’t find us shuttling our children to expensive, intensive, and rigid music classes. We’ve opted for more relaxed and personally directed music lessons and learning, and you can, too.
1. Find a Flexible Music Teacher
Many parents and students probably have an image of a rigid, strict, and slightly crabby piano teacher rapping the knuckles of her students as she drills them on their scales homework. All music teachers, however, are not created equally. You can find a music teacher who is willing to work with you and your child on an individual basis, just as you work with your child on a unique platform of homeschooling other subjects.
Look for someone who doesn’t teach music full-time. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t dedicated to their craft. Perhaps they work a full-time job elsewhere (for those boring yet necessary things like health insurance), but they are still passionate about helping children learn.
Our music instructor works as a session musician for local TV and Radio stations, writes guitar course reviews, is a member of a jazz band, plays guitar, bass and keyboards, and teaches students who are most often homeschooled out of her home in her spare time.
She is flexible with scheduling, allows the kids to bring in their own music that interests them, and even works to accommodate kids with special learning and behavioral needs. She does this because she wants to share her passion for music with others – the perfect kind of teacher for children.
2. Keep the Instruments Central in Your Home
It is important to encourage children to pursue their own interests for it is then that they will feel the most motivated and eventually, accomplished. Keep the music instruments your kids are pursuing in central locations in your home – the living room, family room, or any other room where your child is mostly likely to see the instrument as a natural and comfortable part of the environment.
We used to have our son keep his guitars in his room, but found that he much preferred to play for an audience. So we moved his things to the living room near the piano and now he is much more likely to play without prompting while we are relaxing or just hanging out as a family.
3. Hire New Teachers
Inquire at a local college or community center about students who are studying music. These soon-to-be graduates are often looking for extra experience with teaching music and they are very accommodating to the preferences of homeschoolers. Their costs are often very reasonable and they might even prefer to hold lessons in your own home because they do not yet have studio space.
4. Trade Resources with Other Homeschoolers
Check with other homeschoolers about the possibility of trading lessons. Maybe a local father is great at the violin, and you could trade violin lessons for writing lessons (or any other skill area in which you feel uniquely proficient).
Have children teach each other. My son, whom I taught the basic guitar chords when he was just starting out, actually taught Carla how to play, and although the piano is her instrument of choice, she is now learning to play the bass guitar as well. Check with a local homeschool group to see if there are older kids who would like to share their talents and passions.
5. Use Technology
Look for online teaching tools. Advances in technology have made online music lessons much more affordable and effective. There are numerous free programs available, as well as programs that charge monthly or flat fees, but either way its so much easier to learn how to teach yourself to play guitar than ever before, I have even heard from music teachers who utilize Skype to teach lessons from afar.
6. Let Your Kids Become the Teachers
Even though I could play some guitar and got my son started, it wasn’t long before he was playing far better than me, and this gave me the drive to improve my own skills, and now he leads me in lessons that reinforce his own learning. The more he teaches me, the more he learns and becomes his own teacher – a lifelong gift.
About the Author: Gerald Crawford lives in the small town of Tandragee in Northern Ireland and was taught the basics of how to play guitar by his father and inspires others to do the same at www.guitarinspired.com.
He realized at a young age that no matter what type of instrument you want to learn to play, the main ingredients are practice, patience and encouragement. His son Gary now plays guitar and his daughter Carla reached grade 7 in piano and she now plays keyboards in a local band called R51.