Friday, August 14, 2015

Music and Art Appreciation: #1 Most Likely to Drop Subject

Part 5 (and last one!) of my series wrapping up what we learned this year in different subjects and what each experience taught me about homeschooling in general. (Part 1: History, Part 2: Science, Part 3: Math, Part 4: Language Arts.)

I love music. Classical/instrumental especially, but I enjoy a large variety of music styles. I can not draw realistically to save my life, but I have an appreciation of great artists. This is something I want to pass on to my children. I have bought books we barely or never used. We have done the rare project that took so much more time to set up and clean up than the actual doing itself that I wondered if it was worth it. I attempted to instill culture and art appreciation with my Tea Parties which they loved and still ask for more to this day. But got derailed by co-op and general exhaustion and depression. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only thing "art" related that they have ever completed is the Follow Directions & Draw It Yourself workbook that I printed out a page and left at the table for them for when they woke up and had breakfast. And from what I have heard from other homeschooling parents, I'm not alone in this. When it is a matter of time, "regular" topics are going to be covered before "extras" like art and music.

Early Bird "Composing"
Thanks to our screen time policy and developmental asynchronicity, what has taught my kids more about music and famous art work is the kid show Little Einsteins.  (We are currently watching it on Netflix Streaming. It is also available to purchase through Amazon Streaming.) Builder Boy watched it when he was little, and again when Early Bird was at an age to be interested it in, and now they're watching it again with Lady Bug who is obsessed with this show. While I hate the idea of them watching "too much" tv, I have to admit that every minute they spend watching Little Einsteins is worth it. I did not realize the full extent of what they learned from that show until we got a piano in June. Suddenly Early Bird is pointing out the notations at the beginning of the sheet music, correcting me on the difference between piano and pianissimo, and identifying the various instruments by their sound in music clips we listened to on YouTube. I am pretty sure he has learned more music from that preschool show than I was taught in three years of band plus my own piano lessons when I was young! I have an online friend with a degree in Music Theory and Education who teaches classes and even she has said that she wishes her beginning students would watch the show to pick up the basics. I can't think of better validation than that!

Like all the rest of our subjects so far, we are homeschooling piano lessons for now. My good friend loaned me her old books that she learned on and kept (same curriculum I was taught on!) and I try to give a formal lesson to each boy at least once a week. For Builder Boy, that is enough and he is content with gradual learning and progress. He was much more excited about seeing the inner workings when the piano tuner was here, but he enjoys just "playing" with it from time to time.

Early Bird on the other hand is further along in the book due to interest and his own initiative to practice every single day. And he's been working faithfully for over a month now. But I am teaching him the way I wish I had been taught as a very young but initially excited child. At least once a week Early Bird comes to me with a new melody piece from Little Einsteins that he wants to learn. He hums it or tells me the name of the piece and/or the composer, then I find the music online and print it out. I bought Keyboard Stickers when we got the piano (if you buy these be warned that there are not quite enough for a full piano) and put them on them on the most used keys. On the music selection print outs that Early Bird requests, I write the note letter above the line of sheet music. I play it for him, and then let him take over and figure it out how he will do it. The kid (in my non-professional opinion) has a terrific ear and a natural sense of rhythm. He works at these pieces until he gets them right. There are sometimes (often) perfectionism meltdowns over not getting it right/perfect the first day, but it is great practice persevering.

If you have young kids (Builder Boy is almost 9!) I highly recommend introducing them to this show. Even if it's just background noise during quiet time or craft time. Kids will pick up a lot more from it than you would think, and it can help you feel like you haven't quite failed them in the art and music department after all.
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