How to Do Music Study
Music study is not difficult — but the results can be profound. Even life-changing. Gratefully, when we homeschool we have time to study music and the arts. I know — you may not think you have time, but you do. Listen during chores, lunch, or while you are cooking. Like so many things, it’s not how much time you spend on music study, it’s the frequency of the time you spend. The minutes add up!
What an incredible power it has to inspire us.
Although we don’t fully understand why this is so, music has been proven in numerous studies to increase the spatial-temporal abilities and intelligence of children. (You probably have heard of “The Mozart Effect.”)
Not only has this been documented by others, we have often experienced the effects of music ourselves – lifting our spirits when we are down, energizing us when we are weary, bringing us closer to God in worship.
With such a proven and profound influence, music certainly should be a part of our children’s education.
Charlotte Mason thought so, too.
What we want (education to result in) is a common basis of thought, such a ground work as we get from having read the same books, grown familiar with the same pictures, the same musical compositions, the same interests; when we have such a fundamental basis, we shall be able to speak to each other whether in public speaking or common talk; we shall “all hear in our own tongue the wonderful works of God” because we have learned a common speech…
–Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6
Just as children…were given the greatest literature and art, so they should have the greatest music as well…
–Mrs. Howard Glover, quoted by Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6
In the past, one was not considered educated without an appreciation and ability to recognize the more common composers and pieces of music.
For all or any of the reasons above: music study/appreciation should be part of our students’ education!
What Does Music Study Look Like?
You don’t have to buy a special curriculum or or make detailed plans to “teach” music to include music study in your homeschooling . Thankfully, you don’t have to play an instrument yourself or be trained musically to enjoy and listen to excellent music, either.
Similar to Picture Study, you can simply just choose one composer a semester or so and play several pieces until the style is familiar and recognizable to your children. Additional ideas:
- You may read a book on the composer’s life.
- One book written from a Christian perspective that might be fun to read to your children as you listen to music is Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers.
- You may purposefully just ‘sit and just listen’ to pieces of music, especially as you introduce your students to a newer composer, or you may…
- Make it a daily habit to listen to a particular piece of music for one week when you are accomplishing other tasks– upon rising, at meal time, when doing chores, when children are getting ready for bed, etc.
- You may incorporate Music and Composer Study into history, as we do with our curricula, studying each composer and listening to his* music as we learn about the time period in which he lived.
*Did you know there were also female classical composers? This subject begs to be researched further – perhaps by your high school student.
How Do I Make Sure My Students Are Engaged?
Just as with reading a book or Picture Study, we desire for our students to actively ‘engage’ while they are listening to music. Especially if Music Study is new to your students, giving them a few pointers to help them listen may be warranted. Consider the following questions and activities while listening to music:
- How does this music make you feel when you are listening? (Happy? Sad? Worried? Peaceful?)
- Is this music fast, slow, in between…?
- Close your eyes and think of the ‘story’ this music suggests to you. (And can you tell me the story/draw the story/write the story?)
- Draw a picture of what the music “looks like.”
Ideas for Further Study
- Can you hear any of the instruments that were played in this music?
- Do you hear any parts of this music that are repeated?
- Consider using resources to learn a little about the fundamentals of music theory.
- Have your students complete a lapbook about different musical instruments or their favorite composers.
- Provide instrument lessons for your students.
Music and Composers per Historical Period
We have included the historical period of the music/composer if you are incorporating music/composer study into history, like we do. A few resources we have enjoyed are also provided.
Middle Ages –
Renaissance & Reformation –
Find music from these composers on YouTube, or buy a “Best of__” CD to listen to them:
Colonial – Revolution
Georg Friedrich Handel – make sure to listen to The Messiah
Franz Joseph Haydn
Ludwig v. Beethoven
Johann Sebastian Bach
Westward Expansion – Immigration
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Do you do music study in your household? How do your children respond?