What Music in our Home Looks Like
[Today’s article was written by Lena Marsh and is part of the 31 Days of Music in Our Homeschool Series.]
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I’d love to share with you what music in our home looks like. Music has been emphasized as much as reading and math in our homeschool curriculum, which is why I’ve placed as much importance on playing an instrument as I have on phonics and multiplication tables. I wanted my children to appreciate the great composers and classical music and I would have them fall asleep to Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi every night. As they grew older they listened to the Classical Kids Series, which included Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery and Mr. Bach Comes To Call. My children also enjoyed the very silly but fun Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Symphonies– a CD that included catchy lyrics and trivia about the composers set to the tune of their most famous melodies. We will never be able to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony without also singing the words, “Beethoven’s wig… is very big…”. From the very beginning of educating my children, my goal was for them to become familiar with the great composers and enjoy listening to classical music.
My love for Baroque music and anything by Johann Sebastian Bach guided my decision to introduce my three daughters to violin. It was portable, not very expensive, and I loved the sound – until it was in the hands of a five year old. We trudged through private violin lessons for several years, and as they improved we also added piano and harp lessons to the music curriculum. Our living room quickly turned into a music room filled with a plethora of instruments.
When my daughters were in high school, they began playing with Midwest Young Artists, a premier youth ensemble program in the northern Chicago suburbs. They spent most of their Saturdays in orchestra rehearsals and chamber practices, but continued to play with MYA each year because of their growing love and appreciation for music. I also realized the great advantage to grow as musicians as they played with other exceptional young musicians. When my children hear a piece of classical music, they can often name the composer as well as the movement when it is something that they spent months practicing, better than any game or textbook could have taught them.
As our family grew, so did our collection of instruments. We also started our three sons on violin and piano since we already owned these instruments. The boys’ older sisters were their first music teachers, until they needed formal lessons. My younger boys now take private cello, violin, and piano lessons from some of the same teachers who taught their sisters, and our high school son spends much of his Saturday afternoons playing cello with MYA.
Although only one of my daughters has continued to pursue music in college, the other daughters continue to play and enjoy music when they are home from school. During the holidays, we enjoy evenings of musical ensembles and sing alongs to Christmas tunes. I still don’t have a living room and probably never will, but we cherish the beautiful echos that continue to resound at home.
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