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How to Successfully Include Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool? Tips, Methods, and Resources (E21)

Music education is a vital part of a well-rounded homeschool curriculum, especially within the Charlotte Mason approach. Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, emphasized the importance of a broad and liberal education, which includes the arts. Here’s how you can successfully include music education in a Charlotte Mason homeschool, with tips, methods, and resources for each age group.

How to Successfully Include Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool?

What is a Charlotte Mason Homeschool?

A Charlotte Mason homeschool is an educational approach based on the principles and methods of Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mason emphasized a holistic and child-centered education, advocating for a broad curriculum that nurtures the whole person, not just the intellect. This approach prioritizes the use of living books, which are engaging and well-written texts, over dry textbooks, and encourages children to form personal connections with the material. The Charlotte Mason method also includes narration, where children retell what they have learned, promoting retention and comprehension.

In a Charlotte Mason homeschool, learning is seen as a delightful and ongoing process. Nature study is a significant component, encouraging outdoor exploration and observation to foster a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. The curriculum includes subjects such as literature, history, art, music, and nature study, presented in short, focused lessons to maintain the child’s attention and interest. Character development and good habits are also emphasized, integrating moral and ethical education into daily learning. Overall, the Charlotte Mason approach seeks to cultivate a love of learning and a well-rounded, knowledgeable, and thoughtful individual.

Charlotte Mason music quote

What Did Charlotte Mason Say About Music Education?

Charlotte Mason placed a high value on music education, believing it to be an essential component of a well-rounded education. She said, “Music is a necessary part of education.” She viewed music as a means to enrich the soul and cultivate a sense of beauty and appreciation for the arts. Mason advocated for regular exposure to great music, considering it as important as exposure to great literature and art. She encouraged the study of composers and their works, suggesting that children should listen to classical music regularly to develop their taste and understanding of musical forms and history. Her goal was for children to develop a love and understanding of music, not just technical proficiency. And, that’s exactly what music appreciation courses and curriculum are all about.

Mason emphasized that the core of music learning should be enjoyment first. She recommended creating an “atmosphere of music” in the home by frequently listening to and discussing classical pieces. She believed training the ear to appreciate music should precede learning an instrument or music theory, and this can (and should) start at a very early age.

Mason’s approach to music education also included practical engagement with music. She believed that children should not only listen to music but also participate in it actively through singing hymns and folk songs, and, if possible, learning to play an instrument, usually the piano. This hands-on experience with music was seen as a way to develop discipline, coordination, and a deeper connection to the art form. By integrating music into the daily routine, Mason aimed to create a lifelong appreciation and love for music in her students, enhancing their overall educational experience and personal development.

Preschool and Early Elementary Music Education (Ages 3-7)

Tips:

  1. Keep It Simple and Fun: At this age, focus on making music enjoyable. Use simple songs, nursery rhymes, chants, and simple rhythm games to engage young children.
  2. Routine and Consistency: Integrate music into your daily routine. Sing during clean-up and bathtime, for example. It definitely makes chore time more enjoyable!
  3. Exposure to Different Sounds: Introduce a variety of musical styles and instruments. Listen to great music (composers of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras). And, purchase a set of simple, child-friendly rhythm instruments such as maracas, tambourines, rhythm sticks, and hand drums.

Methods:

  1. Singing and Fingerplays: Singing songs together and clapping along helps develop rhythm and pitch. Fingerplays are wonderful for teaching kids fun chants which develop language skills, help them explore their imaginations, and work on fine motor skills.
  2. Movement Activities: Incorporate movement with music through dancing or marching to the beat. This helps children feel the rhythm physically.
  3. Storytelling with Music: Use music to enhance storytelling. Play background music or use instruments to create sound effects while you’re reading or telling stories.

Resources:

  1. KinderBach: Introduces children to simple songs to sing, fingerplays, as well as an introduction to piano for preschoolers!
  2. 10 Songs All Preschoolers Should Know: Great folk songs to sign with your child.
  3. 100 Delightful Classical Music Pieces: Play a piece for an entire week before moving to the next piece so that you and your child will get to understand and appreciate each piece!
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Elementary Music Education (Ages 8-12)

Tips:

  1. Introduce Composer Study: Begin studying the lives and works of famous composers. Charlotte Mason recommended focusing on one composer per term.
  2. Hymn Study: Introduce hymn study by learning and singing hymns. This can be a part of your morning time or family worship.
  3. Folk Song Study: Incorporate folk songs from various cultures to provide a rich and diverse musical experience.

Methods:

  1. Composer Studies: Learn about famous composers and their works. Listen to their music and read living books about their lives.
  2. Hymn Studies: if you don’t sing hymns at your church, start learning and singing them at home
  3. Folk Songs: These songs are easy to learn. Start with ones from your own country, and then expand to some from other countries and in other languages.

Resources:

  1. Books: “Story of the Orchestra” by Robert Levine introduces children to the orchestra and its instruments. You’ll love my list of Living Books About Music. (MusicinOurHomeschool.com/books)
  2. Great Hymns of the Faith: This course from Music in Our Homeschool teaches 10 different hymns, including the stories behind the songs, and includes videos and sheet music.
  3. A Folk Song a Week: A great way to spend a year learning 36 folk songs. Includes videos, sheet music, copywork, and coloring pages.
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Middle School Music Education (Ages 13-15)

Tips:

  1. Singing Technique: continue to sing more difficult songs and increase ability, stamina, and range.
  2. Private Lessons: Consider private music lessons for focused and personalized instruction in piano or guitar.
  3. Listen to Live Music: listen to a piece at home for a while, and then go to a symphony concert, opera, musical, or choir concert to hear it performed live.

Methods:

  1. Music Appreciation: Study different music genres and their historical contexts. Discuss how music reflects cultural and historical trends.
  2. Composition Projects: Encourage your child to compose their own music. This can start with simple melodies and progress to more complex pieces.
  3. Music History: Explore the history of music, focusing on different periods such as Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern.

Resources:

  1. Singing Made Easy: Use this course that comes in 6 different levels to learn new songs of the past and improve your singing technique. Includes sheet music, videos, and audio tracks.
  2. Guitar Time with Ben: A beginning guitar course in 10 lessons for ages 10 and up.
  3. 20th Century Music Appreciation online course: a simple-to-use music history course that takes you through the great composers, pieces, and musical styles of the 20th Century.
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High School Music Education (Ages 16-18)

Tips:

  1. Learn Music Theory: If your child hasn’t already, now is the time to introduce music theory topics such as chord progressions and key signatures.
  2. Specialization: Encourage specialization in an instrument or vocal training.
  3. Composition: Even simple composition can be a great way to grow musically.

Methods:

  1. Music History and Literature: Deepen their understanding of music history and its literature, studying major works and their impact.
  2. Join a local group to perform music with others: this can be a church praise band, musical theater company, or a choir at your homeschool co-op. If you can’t find one, start one yourself.
  3. Learn how to do digital music composition: there are numerous apps and computer programs for this

Resources:

  1. Books: Read great living books/biographies of composers
  2. Beginning Music Theory for Teens: A half-credit course to teach your student all the basics of music theory–perfect for earning a fine arts credit.
  3. Charlotte Mason Inspired High School Fine Arts course: Include composer study, picture study (art), and poetry study in this full-year course.
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Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Tips for All Ages

  1. Create a Musical Environment: Surround your home with music. Play a variety of music genres and discuss them with your children.
  2. Be Patient and Encouraging: Learning to appreciate uncommon music takes time. Be patient and offer constant encouragement. Short periods of listening are better than nothing!
  3. Lead by Example: If you play an instrument or enjoy singing, let your children see you engaging in music. Your enthusiasm can be contagious.
How to Successfully Include Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Conclusion

Integrating music education into a Charlotte Mason homeschool is not only possible but can also be incredibly rewarding. By using the tips, methods, and resources outlined above, you can create a rich musical environment that nurtures your child’s creativity and appreciation for music. Whether your child is a preschooler just beginning to explore sounds or a high school student delving into advanced composition, there are countless ways to make music an integral part of their education. Embrace the joy of music and watch your child flourish academically, emotionally, and creatively.

See the YouTube Video “How to Successfully Include Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool? Tips, Methods, and Resources” here:

Listen to the Podcast Episode “How to Successfully Include Music Education in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool? Tips, Methods, and Resources” here:

Listen here or subscribe and follow The Music in Our Homeschool Podcast through your favorite podcast app!

Read the Podcast Transcript here.

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