Do I have your attention? Did I shock you? Good, that was my plan...now that I have your attention I can say that obviously, the title to this article couldn't be more false...
Homeschooled students deserve the same access to opportunities that are afforded their public and private school counterparts. That includes access to quality instrumental music instruction, especially for those students who show an early aptitude for music and/or a keen interest. All students at a minimum should be exposed to the recorder starting in the 3rd grade as well as the piano. Starting in the 4th grade those students that are especially motivated and/or show an aptitude can begin to play the violin, guitar, flute, clarinet, trumpet, or saxophone in addition to the piano. Of course, the physical attributes of your student(s) such as overall size, hand size, coordination, health concerns, etc. will help you determine if a 4th grade student can physically handle the challenges associated with playing a "hand held" musical instrument. Piano/keyboard instruction is crucial and should be mandated from the 3rd or 4th grade through the 8th grade.
Music instruction, especially of instrumental music, can be an important component of a well-rounded homeschool curriculum. Are you, as the teacher/parent musically inclined? Are you at least somewhat proficient on a musical instrument? If so, you are probably OK with putting together a homeschool music curriculum that will be more than adequate for your students. However, what if math or science is your strong suit? Perhaps you have some students that would like to play a musical instrument but you're unsure of how to get them started? Musical instruments are expensive, even if they are listed as "student models". Private lessons can be expensive as well, method books can be confusing, do you rent an instrument or purchase?
One idea is to partner with other homeschools or homeschool organizations in your area. Seek out someone to serve as your "musical director". Two or three times a week all music students can meet in a centralized appropriate location for band, orchestra, or choral practices. Individual practice of an instrument is important, but there is nothing like playing with others for motivation and keeping interest levels strong!
Pam and I are homeschool veterans ourselves. We homeschooled our two boys for seven years, including one child disabled with cerebral palsy. Since we had our degrees in music education, we didn't need help with the music end of things, but we certainly did for nearly everything else! So I can empathize with your situation!
What are the benefits to students in listening to and playing quality music? Maybe you have heard of the "Mozart Effect", based on a 1997 book by Don Campbell and founded on the 1991 research of French researcher Dr. Alfred Tomatis. The author claims, and now there is a great deal of supporting scientific research, that listening to classical music, especially Mozart, can further develop the spatial-temporal functioning of the brain. This has now been inked to improved math and science learning, and generally making our children smarter.
Learning about music or how to play a musical instrument is always beneficial. Music involves both left and right-brain functioning. Music inspires creativity and passion. Learning to play a musical instrument or sing is a skill that; once developed, can be enjoyed throughout an entire lifetime!
Marty Lehr has been a music educator, author, and performer for many years.
Homeschooled Students Do NOT Require Music Instruction
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