Music in our Homeschool: Part 2 – A Musically Engaging Home
by Mandy Lining | Apr 6, 2018
“Give a child an environment where they can thrive and then watch them spread their wings and fly.”
Sometimes I hear people say, “My child takes after me…he can’t carry a tune” or, “My child isn’t musical.” But, I believe that if a child is given the proper tools and placed in an engaging atmosphere, he or she can learn to sing in tune! Children are naturally musical as they can usually be spotted dancing around and singing at the top of their lungs (whether on pitch or not). From day one, we wanted to create an engaging musical atmosphere for our child. We have literally spent the past 4 years investing and pouring into our child in the area of music. We didn’t do this because we wanted to force our own hobbies upon him, but we did this because we realized his potential and wanted to give him the tools to succeed. If the most formative years are between ages 1 and 5, we didn’t want to waste those years! So, we poured and poured and poured and, like a sponge, he soaked it all up. If at any point he resisted or showed lack of interest, we would have stopped, but instead, he ran with it. Here’s what we did and how it has musically benefited our Boo!
We stumbled upon Preschool Prodigies when Boo had turned 2 years old. We were searching for a curriculum to give him early exposure to solfege. Through a simple Google search, we found Prodigies and were instantly hooked. We didn’t follow any kind of practice schedule for the first year. Instead, we just played the PsP videos by random and let Boo see what he could do. Before long, he was playing songs and singing solfege notes with an incredible amount of ease. We didn’t force him to do the videos. He wanted to do them and even begged for more. At 3 years of age, I started using the corresponding workbooks that go with the bells. He wasn’t really ready for this any earlier. I strived to complete at least one lesson a week with him. However, even if we only got to our workbooks once a week, I still made sure to turn on the Prodiges videos as often as I could so he could play along. Now at age 4, my goal is to do two lessons per week from the workbooks including videos and some practice out of the songbooks. He can easily play through many of the melodies and is experimenting with playing harmony on many of the songs.
He is also expressing interest in the sharp notes, so we’ve started exposing him to songs that contain sharps. We always encourage him to practice his bells, but never force it on him. Some days he simply doesn’t want to play and that’s okay. Other days he’ll do Prodigies for an hour and doesn’t want me to turn it off. I always try to keep it fun and positive for him because I never want to associate music with a negative atmosphere. And as long as he is learning, I am happy.
Instead of purchasing cheap junk instruments, we actually purchased real instruments for Boo. What’s the point in buying an instrument if it’s just going to break after a few weeks or not even play in tune? So, we decided to purchase the real deal. At age 4, Boo already has a trumpet, desk bells, ukulele, drum set, lap harp, resonator bells, pan flute, and many others. Every Christmas and birthday we would give him different kinds of instruments along with other items on his wish list. My house is always noisy and never quiet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We do music exploration in several different ways. We keep most of his instruments in his room so that at any given time he can hideaway for awhile and explore. Sometimes he will pull out what he wants and other times we’ll go ahead and set some things up for him. His deskbells are set up 24/7 so that he has constant access to playing the different pitches and making up his own songs (which he is constantly doing). There are so many times that he will randomly decide to play his bells and create a really catchy tune all on his own. So, yes, there are instruments everywhere and constant noise, but I know that Boo is engaging his brain musically and having constant exposure. That’s all that really matters to me!
I also teach Boo piano using the Faber Adventure series. I haven’t been following any particular schedule with his lessons. I just implement it whenever he is showing an interest. So, maybe he runs over to the piano and starts playing a simple tune, and I say, “Hey, let’s check out a few pages on this new lesson!” For my child, I know that it’s going to lead to frustration and loss of interest if I impose a strict practice schedule this early. And, quite honestly, he does so much better on the piano when I just set him loose to experiment on his own. The times I feel like he has the most piano success are the times he approaches the piano all on his own, sits down, and plays the music he hears in his head. However, we do use this book to teach the basics and some proper techniques. Once he gets a bit older, I will set up a more consistent schedule for his practice.