The Benefits of Music Education in Classical Homeschooling

The Benefits of Music Education in Classical Homeschooling
In the realm of homeschooling, there’s a growing appreciation for classical education, a model that emphasizes the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty through a structured curriculum (more on classical education here). At the heart of this educational philosophy underlies the profound impact and thread of music education. Let's explore the practical benefits of incorporating music into classical homeschooling and education.

  1. Cognitive Development: Music's Impact on Learning Music education is integral to classical homeschooling for its role in enhancing cognitive abilities. From improving memory and attention span to sharpening auditory discrimination skills, studying music provides a well-rounded cognitive workout, supporting critical thinking and analytical skills as well as literacy and poetic understanding especially in the early years. Dr. John Feierabend says this is why learning to create music, not just learning about music, is so important especially in ages birth-age 8. Gaining knowledge about music, like memorizing Bach's birth year or mnemonic devices for note names, primarily utilizes one's linguistic intelligence. While this information is certainly useful, it doesn't necessarily lead to a deep understanding of music. True musical intelligence involves the development of neural pathways for musical thinking early in life. This foundational understanding is crucial for later learning to have genuine musical significance. Once our minds establish pathways for understanding, it becomes difficult to alter our perception. Individuals who immerse themselves in music, learning songs and moving artfully to the steady beat, are better positioned to grasp musical notation and instrument playing later. Learning an instrument initially by ear, and then transitioning to reading notation, effectively enhances both skills. On the other hand, those who exclusively learn through notation without prior musical readiness may struggle to develop ear-playing abilities because they learned from a mathematical/linguistic lens first.
  2. Cultural Literacy: Embracing Musical Traditions Classical homeschooling values cultural literacy and historical understanding. Through exploring a wide variety of musical traditions, students gain insights into different cultures and time periods as well as various life experiences and perspectives. As Charlotte Mason said, "The child should be made familiar with and should be made to appreciate good music." This exposure enriches their educational journey and broadens their horizons.
  3. Emotional Intelligence: Music as a Tool for Growth Music plays a vital role in developing emotional intelligence within classical homeschooling. By engaging musically, students learn to recognize and manage their emotions. They learn and remember through stories set to music what they may not as easily otherwise. And instrumental music without words has a key role to play as well. As Charlotte Mason believed, "Music is one of the most forcible instruments for refining the feelings." This aspect of education fosters empathy, social-emotional growth, and self-awareness.
  4. Discipline and Perseverance: Building Habits through Music Learning to play a musical instrument requires discipline and perseverance, values cherished by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Through regular practice and overcoming challenges, students develop habits of diligence and self-mastery that extend beyond music into all areas of their lives.
  5. Creative Expression: Nurturing Individuality through Music In Charlotte Mason classical homeschooling, students are encouraged to express their creativity in learning. Music provides a platform for this expression, allowing students to compose, improvise, and interpret music in unique ways. By embracing their musical instincts, students become active participants in their artistic development.
  6. Community and Collaboration: Music's Role in Connection Music fosters community and collaboration, whether a child is singing with a group of people, learning turn-taking while playing instruments, or listening as a part of an audience to a collective performance. Students bond over their shared love of music. This sense of camaraderie strengthens relationships and promotes cooperation among peers.

    In classical homeschooling, music education plays a pivotal role in enriching the educational experience. From cognitive development to emotional intelligence, music offers practical benefits and meaningful engagement with the world around them both present and past. By integrating music into the curriculum, educators empower students to excel academically and cultivate a lifelong appreciation for the arts. As Charlotte Mason believed, "The musical education of the child should be begun early; that is, the child should have begun to play and sing almost as soon as he can speak." Let us embrace the transformative power of music in classical education, guiding children on a journey of discovery and growth.

The Importance of Introducing Children to Rich and Wholesome Music or "Living Songs"

The Importance of Introducing Children to Rich and Wholesome Music or "Living Songs"
When teaching our children (especially in classical education or charlotte mason methods), we often emphasize the importance of exposing them to rich literature from an early age. We recognize the profound impact that books can have on their development, nurturing their imagination, and expanding their worldview. However, just as literature holds a special place in a child's intellectual diet, so too does music play a crucial role in shaping their hearts and minds.

In the words of Charlotte Mason (found in this book), "to introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom." Similarly, introducing children to rich and wholesome songs can open the doors to a world of beauty, inspiration, and cultural richness. Just as we carefully select books that reflect our values and ideals, what's often called living books, we should be mindful of the songs we choose to share with our children.

Children's interaction with music should begin from the earliest moments of their lives. Just as we surround them with books, we can surround them with music that is uplifting, meaningful, has a beautiful melody and accompaniment or a cappella, and enriching. From lullabies sung in the cradle to nursery rhymes and folk songs, every musical encounter shapes a child's understanding of the world around them.

The benefits of exposing children to rich and wholesome songs are manifold. Firstly, music has the power to evoke emotions and stir the soul in ways that words alone cannot. Through songs, children learn about love, joy, sadness, and resilience. They develop empathy and compassion as they empathize with the characters and stories woven into the fabric of each melody.

Singing rich and wholesome songs also cultivates a sense of community and belonging. Whether singing with family members, friends, or classmates, children experience the joy of shared expression and collective harmony. In a world often fragmented by differences and the loneliness of technology, music has the unique ability to unite us across cultural, linguistic, and social divides.

Exposure to a diverse repertoire of songs introduces children to different musical styles, traditions, and cultures. Just as we encourage them to explore the vast expanse of literature, we should encourage them to explore the rich tapestry of musical heritage from around the world. From classical masterpieces to traditional folk tunes, from spirituals to contemporary compositions, each song offers a unique window into the human experience.

In a society where children are bombarded with commercialized and often superficial music geared specifically to children, it is more important than ever to curate a musical environment that nourishes their hearts and minds. As parents and parent-teachers, we have a responsibility to provide children with the tools they need to navigate the world with wisdom, integrity, and compassion. By singing rich and wholesome songs, we can instill in them a love of beauty, a reverence for truth, and a deep appreciation for the realities of humanity.

Just as Charlotte Mason advocated for the importance of introducing children to literature from a young age, so too should we prioritize the introduction of rich and wholesome music into their lives. Music has the power to inspire, uplift, and transform, and by singing together, we can create a more harmonious and compassionate world and thoughtful human beings for generations to come.

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Embracing Musical Freedom: A Book Review of "Feierabend Fundamentals" by Dr. John Feierabend

"Feierabend Fundamentals" by Dr. John Feierabend is a groundbreaking book that not only delves into the core principles of music education but also emphasizes child-centered learning in the realm of musical expression. As a self-employed music teacher, this is one of the foundational books on which I build my philosophy of teaching and basis for instruction. Dr. Feierabend, a distinguished figure in the field of music education, seamlessly intertwines his expertise with a refreshing perspective on fostering creativity, autonomy, and learner-centered expression.

One of the book's standout features is its comprehensive systems of teaching and learning fundamental musical concepts. Dr. Feierabend's approach is both scholarly and accessible, making it an ideal resource for educators, students, and anyone passionate about the art of music. Through engaging anecdotes and practical examples, he navigates readers through the essential building blocks of musical understanding, emphasizing creating a strong foundation for children by the age of 7 or 8.

However, what truly sets "Feierabend Fundamentals" apart is its emphasis on freedom in the musical journey. Dr. Feierabend passionately advocates for nurturing individual creativity and allowing learners, especially children, to find their unique voices within the framework of musical theory. He argues that true musical proficiency is not just about mastering notes and rhythms but also about cultivating a personal connection in creating with the art form, especially during the formative years of child development.

The book challenges traditional notions of musical education that may stifle creativity by promoting rigid structures and stifling conformity. Dr. Feierabend encourages readers to break free from these constraints through a structure that promotes individuality, fostering an environment where self-expression, particularly in a child-centered context, is not only welcomed but celebrated. In doing so, he empowers educators and parents to guide children in embracing their musical identities, fostering a sense of ownership over their artistic endeavors.

Dr. Feierabend's insights are not only informative but also inspiring, motivating readers to rethink their approach to teaching and learning music, particularly when working with young learners. The book is structured in a way that encourages reflection, providing thought-provoking prompts and exercises that prompt readers to apply the principles discussed, making it especially valuable for those involved in child-centered musical education. 

"Feierabend Fundamentals" is a must-read for educators, parents, and enthusiasts alike who seek to go beyond the confines of traditional music education, especially when working with children. Dr. Feierabend's advocacy for freedom, autonomy, and child-centered learning serves as a guiding light, encouraging readers to view music not just as a set of rules but as a boundless realm where individual creativity can flourish, particularly in the context of nurturing the next generation in what's known as his "30 year plan." As a result, this book stands as a comprehensive reference resource for those who need or want an all-in-one guide to Dr. Feierabend's philosophies and materials.

Amazon Favorites of a Music Teacher Mom

Amazon Favorites of a Music Teacher Mom
Today is Prime Big Deals Day!

Here are bunch of my favorite Amazon finds as a music teacher mom, most of which happen to be part of the deals today, too. I use these ALL the time in my home and teaching space.

1. Rubber Chicken! We play a game called chickens & foxes with ours, there's lots of other uses. My students named him drumstick, haha! He's also a great model of open tall vowels for choir.

2. Googly eye rings! I use these for arioso, small group singing, and conversations in song back & forth between students.

3. This super cozy nursing and maternity sweatshirt -- so nice for fall/winter days and for nursing baby discreetly!

4. This white noise sound machine has been the best. It's not too big, so great for traveling. And even has colors if you need a night light feature.

5. These footed pants were SO cozy when baby was tiny. 10/10 recommend, especially if you have a fall/winter baby! This is all my baby girl wore except for footies last winter.

6. A pickler triangle set -- this is a great toddler activity for those cold winter days where we're all cooped up inside because it's too cold to even play in the snow. I am getting one for my baby girl for Christmas.

7. Classroom instruments are a great way to engage students without breaking the bank. I typically own only 1-2 of each instrument and we grow in patience, social skills, waiting, turning taking, etc by only using one. Here are a few I found on sale today: cabasa set, rainbow streamers for expressive movement, wood block, guiros, juggling scarves, and more!

8. Non toxic crayons! Perfect for beginning babies who are going to put them in their mouth.

9. I am getting this busy board for my baby girl because a friend recommended it for long car rides (or air plane rides!).

10. This musician's journal I created -- fun colors! You have SO MANY notebooks you're writing in allll the time too? You're in good company.

11. So much silly fun with pop tubes!

There's more, but this is a great start. Happy shopping!

12 Benefits of Teaching Music to Toddlers

Teaching music to toddlers is incredibly beneficial for their overall development.
Here are several reasons why (if you're a parent or a music teacher, read on!):

1. Cognitive Development: 
   - Enhances Memory and Recall: Learning music involves memorizing patterns, melodies, and lyrics, which helps improve memory skills.
   - Develops Problem-Solving Skills: Figuring out rhythms, notes, and melodies encourages analytical thinking and problem-solving.

2. Language Development:
   - Expands Vocabulary: Through song lyrics, toddlers are exposed to a wider range of words and phrases.
   - Improves Pronunciation: Singing helps with speech development, enunciation, and pronunciation.
   - There's research that shows that being able to keep a steady beat actually helps with language development and future reading skills!

3. Motor Skills:
   - Fine Motor Skills: Playing instruments like drums, xylophones, or even simple hand clapping exercises fine motor skills.
   - Gross Motor Skills: Dancing and moving to music helps with coordination and balance. Crossing midline is very important for future motor planning, which clapping and other movements that are musical can help with (like keeping the beat activities I use with my early childhood classes!).

4. Emotional Expression:
   - Encourages Emotional Expression: Music provides an outlet for children to express their feelings, which can be particularly helpful for those who may not have the verbal skills to do so.
   - Music can help calm a worried or sad child.

5. Social Skills:
   - Promotes Cooperation: Group activities like singing in a choir or playing in an ensemble teach children how to work together towards a common goal. It teaches them how to start together with a group and builds teamwork.
   - Encourages Communication: Sharing musical experiences encourages interaction and communication among peers.

6. Mathematical Understanding:
   - Introduces Basic Math Concepts: Rhythm and beat introduce foundational mathematical concepts like counting, patterns, and divisions of time.

7. Cultural Appreciation:
   - Introduces Diversity: Music exposes toddlers to different cultures, traditions, and musical styles from around the world, fostering cultural appreciation and understanding.

8. Creativity and Imagination:
   - Fosters Creativity: Music allows for self-expression and encourages creativity as toddlers experiment with sounds and melodies.
   - Stimulates Imagination: Singing and playing with instruments can stimulate imaginative play. Arioso (a type of solo singing I use in my classes) is a great place to show this!).

9. Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem:
   - Positive Reinforcement: Learning and performing music in front of an audience can boost a child's confidence and self-esteem. I have seen SO many students grow in this area in my time with them.

10. Stress Reduction and Relaxation:
    - Emotional Regulation: Music can have a calming effect, helping toddlers manage stress and anxiety. They can process sadness or learn to wait through songs too.

11. Foundation for Future Learning:
    - Prepares for Formal Education: Early exposure to music can provide a strong foundation for future music education and learning other subjects.

12. Enjoyment and Fun:
    - Promotes Happiness: Music is inherently enjoyable and brings joy to children's lives.

It's important to note that the benefits of teaching music to toddlers are maximized when it's approached in a fun, age-appropriate, and engaging way. Activities should be adapted to suit their developmental stage and interests, and should never feel like a chore. Ultimately, music offers a holistic approach to early childhood development, nurturing cognitive, emotional, and social skills in an enjoyable and enriching way.

If you're a parent looking to find classes for your toddler or baby, check out my offerings on my website menu above!