My father taught me to play guitar when I was around fourteen years old and I can still remember the initial frustration of getting my fingers to push down on the correct strings and this nearly made me give it up altogether.
I wanted to be able to play straight away and when I saw how easily other guitarists made it look I thought that there was something wrong with me, but I overlooked the fact that every musician, whether they are professional or play for pleasure faced the exact same challenges.
You see, even if you have a professional musician teaching you, it really all boils down to how much your child wants to play, and the main keys to learning to play a musical instrument are passion, patience and practice. You wont wake up one day and say ‘Hey, I can play’, its a work in progress and there will always be something new to learn.
But in saying that, I found that when I struggled with a certain set of chords and thought I was never going to be able to string them together, I would walk away and calm down, and when I tried it again the next day and the day after it became easier and easier, no question.
Its one of those things that creeps up on you and before you know it you are able to play a few songs, and you have the slow gradual realisation that yes, you can do it, learning to play the guitar really is possible. Once you have overcome these initial hurdles it begins to become enjoyable and fun, because you will have overcome the most difficult part of learning to play an instrument, the basics. From this point on your confidence grows and now that you are actually beginning to enjoy it the only way is up.
Music is a subject area that some parents shy away from when it comes to homeschooling their children. They don’t feel confident enough to teach their children how to play instruments. They don’t feel confident enough to sing with their children. They don’t feel confident enough to teach them about musical genres and famous musicians, and thats perfectly natural, we are all human, but we are all capable of great things if we put our minds to it.
I have offered a few ideas below which I hope will help parents build confidence so they can integrate music education into their children’s homeschool repertoires.
1. Build background knowledge and experiences for children. There are many ways parents can expose their children to music. They can sing along with a CD, allow children to experiment with different instruments, and play music for them throughout the day. These exposures will allow children to build connections in their brains and develop an appreciation for this very special art.
2. Take children out to concerts. It’s great for children to listen to music while they’re at home. Even better, however, is for children to watch musicians play music. Children can benefit from watching fingers strum guitar strings, press on piano keys, and cover up the holes on a woodwind or brass instrument.
3. Encourage an apprenticeship. Try to find someone your children can look up to, learn from, and call a mentor. This mentor would be someone who knows about how to repair and care for instruments, as well as their construction and evolution. This will help children develop a greater appreciation for the instruments they play.
4. Play games and engage in online activities. When children are playing educational musical games online, they don’t realize they are also engaging in intense practice of their skills. Children are innately attracted to game-like activities, and love them or loath them, computors are their gateway today. There are many wonderful websites out there that provide children with not just practice time, but also information so they can learn more about music and musical instruments, I learned to play back in the day of steam driven cassette players but today the internet has a multitude of online guitar lessons for beginners.
5. Connect other subject areas to music as much as possible. The best way for children to learn is in an integrated manner. When children are learning about American history, it becomes meaningful for them to also learn about the history of music. When children learn about the science of sound, it is important for children to also examine instruments and the way they make various noises. When children learn about fractions, they can also learn about musical beats. This integrated approach to learning is beneficial to brain development.
These five simple ideas can be implemented as ways to bring music education into a homeschool curriculum. Parents do not need musical backgrounds to expose their children to music. There are many things parents can do to enrich music education at home. When children are exposed to a whole education, it gives them a good head start on the road to becoming a well rounded successful individual in their own right.