Curriculum 101: Music

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.


“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

~ Plato

Music is incredible. It’s fun, entertaining, and memorable. That is, until you force your children to sit down at a set of drums or that baby grand filling the front room for a determined amount of time each day. There’s something about the forced practice of lessons that steals the joy of the melody.

Unfortunately, if your older children plan to gain credit for courses in music or you simply wish your children to progress at a certain pace, dedicated lesson time seems inevitable. What’s a homeschool parent to do?

We’d love to hear how you teach music, and have a few questions we’d like to pose:

  • Do you have a portion of your day dedicated to music lessons?
  • How much time are your children required to practice?
  • Is there a particular curriculum you are working through?
  • Do your children learn music by rote, ear, or reading?
  • Do you force your children to take music, despite their objections, or are they free to dismiss lessons should they dislike the practice?
  • Do you play an instrument yourself?
  • Do you teach your children or do they have a private instructor?

Our children love music. Until we force them to sit at the piano for certain lengths of time each day. Right now, we’re trying to find a balance between only playing when they want to play and playing just because they have to practice. Prayerfully we’ll find middle ground. In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about your music lessons. How is the Lord leading in this area in your own homes and what has He been teaching through this incredible time of discovery?

🔔Now, it’s your turn!! Share your thoughts on the above questions and let us hear from you. We’d love your feedback and appreciate those links you’ve been sharing!

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26 thoughts on “Curriculum 101: Music

  1. All of my children take piano lessons except for Littlest. The Oldest also takes guitar lessons. They go to a private instructor once per week and she provides their curriculum.They practice about a half hour every day. If they are performing then they practice twice a day. Practice is part of our school day. I make sure they practice. I feel music is as important as math and reading so I do not leave it up to them to practice when they “feel” like it. My middle son loves the piano and wants to play the organ one day so he is self motivated. He also experiments with music and picks it up by ear. My other children enjoy their instruments but they do not have the love for it like our middle son.

    To help them learn to read music I had them copy and label a music staff everyday as part of their daily copywork. We also play a game called music bingo every Friday that I found on Amazon.

    During school hours we put on Pandora and listen to various composers. If music is available to listen to from various historical eras we are studying then we will listen to these as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are great questions! I know I’ve thought about some of these from time to time because I would like my children to learn to play violin or piano one day. I was about 10 or 11 when I took piano lessons and loved it, until I was forced to practice. I wasn’t making “enough” progress for my teacher so she seemed disappointed which made me frustrated and disconnected. So… I think that when the time comes for lessons that we first find a teacher who will make it fun and who understands that kids learn at different speeds. Then I will make sure that there is time available for them to practice and help them set reasonable goals. Then it will be up to them to use their practice time wisely.
    Storyad, I love the idea of copywork to learn to read music. And listening to composers too, we do that now sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My son is still fairly young, so I haven’t dedicated too much time to formal music lessons. We do plan for him to take piano lessons when he’s a bit older. For now, we keep a box of smaller instruments around, as well as my husband’s guitar and trumpet, so he can explore making music on his own for now!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We required each of our kids to take two years of piano in order to learn how to read music. Then they were given the option to move on to another instrument if they wanted to. Our two sons are now an accomplished guitarist and drummer, but our daughter continued on with her love of piano. They have all thanked us for “making” them start with the keyboard. 🙂 It’s also important to pray for excellent music instructors to cross your path! We had some great ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi there, We have 3 children and we required them all to take 5 years of music lessons, but they could choose what to play. The oldest did piano to Grade 8, a few years of violin (concurrently), plus taught herself guitar and ukulele. Number 2 had 3 years of piano, then wanted to try guitar. After that he simply played the CD player, but his appreciation for music continued as he sang in a number of bands, plus took up drums as an adult. Our baby did two years of classes: Music for Young Children, Kindermusik, plus 2 years of piano lessons. We only got the 4 years out of him, but in all fairness, he truly enjoys acting and has sung in theatre groups! So that makes 5. My husband is musical and plays guitar a bit. I love music and sing, but did not have the opportunity to learn an instrument when I was a child. Maybe I’ll take up the cello… it’s never too late! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Our kids are always around music. We play music, we listen to music, we go to music festivals. We expose our kids to lots of different styles of music as well. We also respect their choice of music. My husband sings and plays Latin percussion for a Salsa and Merengue Band, our oldest son had a screamo rock band which practiced in our living room, our younger son sang in his first professional opera at the age of 16, and one creates electronic music on his computer. We all have lead praise and worship at church, and one of my sons is a music minister, and the other a DJ. One of our daughters is completely tone deaf – but she loves music as well and sings to the disabled children she works with – others call her the singing teacher. I think my kids love music because we do, and it is a part of life and a part of our family celebrations. Now 3 of my kids are married with kids – one is in college and one in kindergarten. When we get together as a family we break out the instruments and sing and play and the small children dance and play rhythm instruments. As far as “learning” and lessons – they are allowed to “play around” on any instrument we have in the house – so they developed “playing by ear” before taking lessons. We gave them lessons and bought instruments whenever they asked to do so – with the exception of a harp which we could not afford lessons or the instrument. But if they ask to take lessons they are locked in for a year and they must practice 30 minutes a day. My kids have taken violin, piano, guitar, electric guitar, bass, saxophone, and voice lessons. One time my mother said, “music is supposed to be in the background of life” to which my teenage son replied,”music is life.”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An easy area for me as a musician and twenty years as a music teacher! I can say that music is a vital area of education. The health, intellectual development and emotional development benefits which comes from learning an instrument are huge and never to be underestimated! Music improves the child’s mind in all areas of learning – not just the obvious creative one!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. In our first 6 or so homeschooling years, my kids basically grew up in the childrens choir at theater program at our church. our oldest took a few voice lessons back then too. Since our move to Central Florida, after years of searching for a church that had something like what we had at home (to no avail), we found a new upcoming community arts organization that offered choir and theater like what we had at home. Since then, this organization has blossomed and so have my kids. My oldest has found a love of singing and we have been told she is pretty good at it. My younger daughter has taken piano and hated it, and then decided to try viola. She loves it. Her instructor was a perfect fit for her bc he enjoyed the same type of music she does. I say WAS bc he quit working for the organization for health issues. Im praying for a new good viola intructor for her. She has progressed nicely and enjoys it. I do not make my children practice. They know what is expected of them from thier teachers and if they love it there is no issue.

    When they were younger I ALWAYS had on classical music, we attended yearly educational opportunities that they symphony offered(and where my youngest learned about the beautiful deeper tone of the viola) and I made a point to play things like Beethovens Wig in the car.

    Now my teens listen to movie scores while getting school done. My violist likes to learn movie tunes on her own too.

    AND I felt like an official homeschooler when we bought a very second or thirdhand piano a few years ago. LOVE music in my house!

    And I play nothing nor sing. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  9. For the older kids I’ve tried to implement a practice routine for Monday afternoons. For the younger kids, I’ve just purchased some kazoos. Basic, but a fun way to introduce how to get a feel for coordination, rhythm and melody. I also brought some hand puppets that can be used with them; they use the kazoo to make voice of the puppet. From there we’ll graduate to recorder. Being somewhat of a guitarist, I’m big on the benefits of a well-disciplined routine. My only struggle has been with balancing the expectations with reality. It can be difficult to get across the fact that skill requires training, and that requires time and persistence. Like you guys, we’re trying to find the right balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Music is a very integral part of who I am and plays a huge role in my life. I have noticed that music is quite a big deal in my eldest son’s life as well. David lives and breathes music when given half the chance. Our music lessons though haven’t been penned down to a curriculum yet or to any certain type or subject. I so far have been mixing a lot of different things into our days as naturally as I can and I always take advantage of chances to appreciate music when it pops up into our lives unexpectedly (someone playing an instrument in the store or at a park, a beautiful/fun/or interesting song playing overhead when we are somewhere away from home, dancing to the music while riding up an elevator on the way to the doctor’s floor, etc).

    I’ve tried to take my oldest to a concert before too with a singer we both enjoy. It proved to be too much for his sensory system (due to the severe Autism) but instead of just leaving and taking the whole experience away from him, I got permission to sit down on the lobby floor with him and listen to the concert from there. Thankfully it was a concert being held in a church, so that was easier to get permission for than if we had been in a concert hall or something. Once David adjusted and calmed down, we danced together in the lobby, rocked back and forth to the music, and sang along to our favorite songs. An experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 🙂

    Our typical days though insist of playing various music through either my personal collection, youtube, or the radio. We sometimes even put on musicals and have fun watching and singing a long as music is used to help carry the story forward.

    This last year, we’ve added official lessons, starting on the guitar. David proved to not be ready for that instrument though (poor fine motor control and finger strength), so his instructor suggested piano. David hated it until the instructor found a way to make it fun. He let David experiment and play for the first couple of times. Then when lessons actually started, instead of going the route of scales and memorizing notes, the instructor introduced us to a beginners song book so David was able to learn more than just notes and hand positions, he was learning simple songs. 🙂 He worked on David’s rhythm through games and songs created just for that purpose, and when David got bored with it all, they started working on Christmas songs (David’s request).

    With our move to Idaho, we’ve left that teacher behind, but I have picked up his tips and strategies and David and Joshua both now beg for piano time. I even learned to play thanks to that teachers methods of teaching. 🙂 I don’t force practice on them, but I will note that I won’t let them give up either. If they sit down at the piano to practice, I expect them to stay sat and work through it, even when they’re struggling, until they’ve completed at least one song. It does a world of good for their confidence level when they finally finish. Sometimes they miss just about every note on the page, but I point out how they were still able to reach the end and that’s something to be proud of. I have found taking that attitude helps them in two ways, 1) they see that they don’t have to be perfect to play and 2) they learn confidence and the value of not giving up just because something is hard. 🙂

    I just realized I am practically writing a book here in response. Sorry about that. lol I hope in all that rambling though there is something helpful or encouraging. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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