Music is an important part of our family. My husband plays several instruments and is in a garage band, I sing and was a part of a musical group in college, my mother-in-law teaches piano and composes, and my dad sings and is in a barbershop quartet. Our 12yo daughter now composes her own songs on the keyboard and all three girls love to sing. (Their current favorite is the Hamilton soundtrack!) One of our favorite things to do is attend concerts of all kinds. Music is important to us and so naturally, we want to pass our passion for music on to our children. Not only will all three of our girls (eventually) learn an instrument, but I also want to develop in them an appreciation for different kinds of music.
One resource we have used in our homeschool in prior years is Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music!
The Story of the Orchestra is a hardcover book that guides you through each instrument typically found in an orchestra, along with a CD that contains samples of each instrument to listen to. The book also teaches about famous composers and musicians from different eras (Romantic, Modern, etc), along with a musical sample of one of their compositions.
How We Used It In Our Homeschool
One day a week, I would read 1-2 pages (depending on the topic) to my daughters. We would then listen to the music sample included on the CD. Often, we would search Youtube to find a video of a live orchestra playing the full song. Many of the songs are LONG (20 minutes or more) so we’d let it play in the background as we continued on with our day or had lunch/snacktime. One way to draw in my littler girls, ages 6 and 3 at the time, was to search for the song in a cartoon. For instance, many of the old Looney Tunes and Disney cartoons relied on a lot of orchestral music as the background music for their cartoons. What a fun way to introduce orchestral and classical music to children without them even realizing it! And even if you are unsure if they are picking up the music, they ARE. My girls often will recognize a song that they’ve heard before, even if they cannot remember the composer of the song. I still call that a win!
There are pages about specific instruments, such as the cello. These contain historical information along with fun facts. If you look at the image below, you will also see (in the orange oval) directions on which track to play, along with things to listen for in the song and/or more information about the song.
There are also pages specific to composers. These contain facts about the composer, their musical style, and their compositions. (Did you know that there was almost a riot during one of Stravinsky’s concerts? Just one of many fun pieces of trivia throughout the book.)
My then 11yo daughter was inspired by what she learned about this particular composer, Igor Stravinsky. She likes to compose her own songs on the piano already, and after reading (and listening) to Stravinsky’s unique style of dissonance, I later heard her at the piano experimenting with some dissonant chords. Score! (pun not intended)
How do you incorporate music in your homeschool? (Seriously, I will need some ideas for next year!)