Among the many reasons parents choose to homeschool their children is the enormous flexibility in what their child can learn. But there’s far more to an education than simply reading, writing, and arithmetic. Most homeschoolers prefer a much broader scope for their child’s academics, seeking to create a total and well-rounded adult through the courses studied. Additional coursework or lessons in the arts can make such a big difference. The benefits of music education extend far beyond the lessons themselves, and parents need to recognize that multi-faceted value.
One of the greatest problems that music teachers face is having to compete with extra-curricular activities that are allowed to take precedence over music lessons. Music teachers are constantly fielding requests to change some child’s lesson time because he/she has soccer, or basketball, or swimming, etc. The list goes on.
Worse still is when the child decides, for whatever reasons, they no longer want to take music lessons, and the parents “cave”! What’s with that?! We don’t allow our children to decide whether to study math or science or geography. Without those fundamental courses, their education will not be complete.
We need to recognize that music education is just as critical and, for this reason, if a child has any aptitude at all, he/she doesn’t get to decide whether to “drop out”. Music education must be respected as foundational, not “extra-curricular”.
That’s why I want to tell you more about this topic and the benefits you will reap by making sure your child is not left out. Now, more than ever, there are vast oceans of resources available that make learning music an easy task for children of all ages. What’s more, these resources can make it more fun than it ever has been, which can help to keep your child engaged for longer periods of time.
Music Creates A Happy Environment
Anyone who enjoys music can tell you, it truly helps create joy and happiness, especially when kids are involved. It has the capability of lifting even the worst of moods and creating excited children who will begin to look forward to “music time” each and every day. A part of the music lesson experience could also include learning to move with the music. Dance is not only a means of self-expression as the feeling of the music is portrayed through movement, but it can also help children to understand timing and relevance in motion.
Combining singing with music lessons is another good way to instill the interest and love of music into your music lesson days. Again, it helps to vocalize some of the parts to be played, and can even be a legitimate part of learning an instrumental or solo piece. I can’t tell you the many times my son has sung along with a specific “riff” he was trying to learn by ear, and singing it helped him really solidify the learning.
Music Lessons Can Boost Feelings of Self-Esteem & Self-Worth
Learning a new skill takes time, and it can be a struggle. When your child finally meets a goal or masters a small skill set, it can give them an excellent boost to their self-esteem. Not only are they learning something new, but they are creating music - something beautiful and engaging - that can be enjoyed by all those around them.
Self-esteem can also come as a result of increased self-discipline, which is an important factor for the serious music student. Of course, there are some students who only play a little here and there, with very little concern for truly learning it, whereas others set aside a great deal of time and effort in order to master a specific instrument. As that mastery becomes more and more evident, feelings of self-esteem and self-worth grow as well.
Music Lessons Can Boost Socialization
If your child is taking music lessons as a part of a group, there will likely be many opportunities for interaction with the other students. But there are far more things to learn from this setting than simple social graces. For instance, your child will learn to work toward a specific goal as a part of the whole. Many children play instruments and sing, and some even create their own YouTube channels to share their music with the world. But there’s something to be said for playing along with others who are making the same music and working towards the same end.
They’ll learn how to be patient, waiting their turn if necessary, and they’ll learn when to chime in as a means of support, for instance, for a soloing instrumentalist. It is a magnificent way to teach a child that just because they may not have the limelight, they are still a necessary and important part of the entire group. One doesn’t have to be in “first place” in order to make a piece sound better. Our English word “symphony” comes from the Greek, meaning: “to sound together”.
They’ll also learn to help encourage those around them to push forward and become better. Especially for those children who have “been there”, it’s very important to be able to help someone else who now is where they once were. Maybe they’ll take great pride in pulling a shy child out of seclusion after first being pulled out by someone else who cared. Or maybe they’ll be able to testify to the fact that hard pieces can be learned, and that it doesn’t take nearly as long as they might think.
Academic Benefits Come In Many Ways
There are many things that come together to create the overall experience of music lessons. When learning an instrument, specifically, you’ll find these academic skills are accessed and utilized on a regular basis:
- Reading notes
- Reading scales
- Forming chords
- Learning to count time
- Training the ear
- Music Theory
- Practice efficiency (includes learning time management)
- Training the memory
- Performance practice
- Developing a personal technique
Learning to Play An Instrument Hones Fine Motor Skills
In the beginning, if your child is learning a brand-new instrument, or has never played anything before, you can expect a bit of clumsiness, not unlike learning to use a knife, fork, and spoon. Just so, as their fine motor skills are honed and perfected, along with the movements necessary to produce sound, you can see everything coming together beautifully. The patterns picked up through this type of repetitive practice and learning help to build connections within the brain, even throughout different parts of the brain. It’s just as beneficial for hand-eye coordination. In fact, many students who take music lessons go on to become avid athletes or skilled surgeons who benefit from the coordination and fine motor skills acquired in learning to play an instrument.
Music has often been used as a form of therapy for children and adults who have been through severe emotional distress, who have trouble with communication, or who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury. The fact that music helps regulate the brain’s emotional system makes music therapeutic, even if there are no underlying issues from which to heal. Even the most simple emotions and feelings can be greatly impacted by music in its many forms.
Music is a much easier way for children to learn to express themselves, whether emotions are melancholy, sad, violent, happy or anything in between. It’s also healthier and safer, in regard to negative emotions and its impact on those around them.
Ways To Implement Music Lessons
You might be thinking, There’s no way I can teach music! I don’t even know how to play anything! I’m sure you’re not alone in thinking that, and the good news is, you don’t have to know how to play the first note! When my husband and I started teaching our son to play guitar, we only taught him by ear, as we had never learned chords or theory. Still, he had that ability himself and picked up on it pretty quickly. He never left his love for music and it has been a source of comfort to him for many years.
If you have no previous knowledge or training in music, however, you might think it would be much harder to find a lesson method. The good news is, there are many ways to do this, even if you’re not teaching your child actually to play an instrument. Sometimes, simply teaching music appreciation is a great way to bring the arts into the home.
Private instructors can be hired to work with your child, either in their space or in your own home, depending on their requirements. Sometimes the best place to find a private music or instrument instructor is through your local music store. Ask around. Depending on where you live, these lessons can vary greatly in price. If you are not currently in a position to procure a private instructor, there are other options as well.
Online Music Lessons are available from a variety of sites. You might talk to people you know who have used a service like this in the past or check out the latest reviews on any service or company you plan to use. Just be extra-cautious about any service you are considering and be sure to check all options. This includes feedback from any homeschool groups or co-ops you’re a part of.
Music Theory lessons are also a great place to start. For those planning on learning to play from sheet music, this class is nearly a necessity. Without it, sheet music might just as well might be written in a foreign language. In fact, music theory actually is a kind of language that only musicians know. You can use this course as a springboard for any instrumental or vocal lessons. Get started by learning notes and symbols through worksheets and lessons, or by utilizing specific apps that have been created for learning theory as well.
Music lessons are important to many homeschoolers across the country, and you’re likely to meet many of them at one of our Great Homeschool Conventions. You can sign up for details regarding speakers and workshops and you might find that one or more of them corresponds with the specific questions you have regarding music. Several of our vendors focus exclusively on the music genre. You’ll get the whole-package approach for all homeschool related information which makes it abundantly useful for everyone.
There’s sure to be a Great Homeschool Convention near you, as we host seven regional conventions. We know that some of you have to travel farther than others, so we offer hotel discounts, military discounts, and free admission to active members of the clergy, just to make sure everyone has access.
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And remember, Great Homeschool Conventions are: Equipping… Encouraging… FUN!