How do you go about teaching something like music is one of the common questions addressed to home educators. The accepted answer (unless you are particularly musical) seems to be to join a group class and/or have instrument lessons.
I have been trying to interest Sam in these for years and failing. One of the local home ed groups runs group lessons and I know a few piano tutors so could set something in place easily but he flatly refuses.
Been feeling guilty about failing in this area. But have decided no more. Playing an instrument has to be self motivated. We have a piano that Pete and Jack play quite regularly, guitars both electric and acoustic that he also sees others play and until recently when I decided to end the guilt, a big box of percussion instruments and recorders. The carrot is dangling there in front of him but if he doesn’t want to bite then I’m not going to use a stick.
The reason I adopt a more structured approach to home education is that I believe that there are some things that children need to learn to be able to have the maximum opportunities in adult life and I don’t have the faith that they will pick it all up by interest alone – but they are mainly reading/writing/maths/economics/politics. Music for all but a select few really talented, motivated individuals is a hobby something they play and listen to for fun and something they can function quite happily through life without any major knowledge of.
Our music study then for this year is focused on enjoyment of music and basic general knowledge (recognising instruments and composers). I don’t plan to allocate much, if any, time to it specifically but let it slot in.
- Composition: aim is just playing and having fun. May work in the odd bit to project work, probably using the chime bars he wanted to keep when we got rid of the rest of the instruments. But really plan is to make sure the electronic programmes he likes to play with are easily accessible and we remember to use them to help fill in those spare moments. They also tend to be social activities, something the males of the house like to indulge in on a weekend/evenings. We have an app on the iPad Garageband and his other favourite is Incredibox. Sure we will add more over the year.
- Instrument! As soon as I decide to stop stressing he decides to take up the ukulele. I expect the idea of it being him and a book with no teacher swung it. We will have to see how long interest is maintained. We’ll keep going as long as he’s actively wanting to.
- Being able to recognise instruments. Every year (Sam was 2 months old first time) we attend a children’s orchestral concert in Jan – just checked and date has been announced for 2015 so am happy. We also take other opportunities that fall our way to get out and hear/see live music. We are booked to see a show in Oct (although in the cinema) by BBC’s Ten Pieces Orchestra. In the run up to these outings we usually glance through Usborne’s Introduction to Music to familiarise ourselves with the instruments/layout although by now he is pretty good.
- New for this year and something sadly lacking from my own music education, is I would like him to be familiar with some of the most famous pieces of classical music and to have a feeling of type of music by a composer. We will be using the book Lives of the Musicians to introduce the lives of the composers. We will look at one per half term. We will record details about the composer on an index card to add to our timeline box. We will then over the six weeks or so of the half term play music by the composer in the background when we are having quiet spells, crafting, lego etc and possibly depending on Sam (some people say music helps concentration) while he is working. Have also come across this cd. Dread to think how long it has sat here neglected. One to add to the listening pile in the post Christmas, bleak weather term.