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Homeschool music lessons are an important part of our daily activities here at Indigo River Academy. Music Education has been proven to help children become successful in society, school, intellectually and in life. (Picture Right: In Raiyna and Lexi’s case, just playing in the music store makes them happy!). I also feel that our public schools don’t provide nearly the amount of music education that a child requires. Having homeschool music lessons has provided my children with an extra advantage that will benefit them in their futures.
Research has shown that music lessons dramatically increase a child’s abstract reasoning skills, the same skills used in math and science (Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997). Another study found that the best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley are practicing musicians (“The Case for Sequential Music Education in the Core Curriculum of the Public Schools,” The Center for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum, New York, 1989). And finally, I found a study proving that children who receive music education score higher on their SAT’s (College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001). Here I am with FOUR college bound homeschoolers, so those SAT’s are pretty important!
Homeschool may very well be one of the best places to get music education. Here are some ideas for you to think about when adding homeschool music lessons to your child’s education.
Integrating Music Lessons Into Your Homeschool
How Much Will Homeschool Music Lessons Cost?
Homeschool music lessons can cost quite a bit. Instructors typically give 1/2 hour lessons and range anywhere from $10 to $40 for each lesson, sometimes much more. Depending on the instrument your child chooses, you can keep costs down by purchasing a used instrument or renting an instrument. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of books and tapes. These have cost me about $40 per child. Lastly, there are the “fun things” that your children will probably want for their homeschool music lessons. These are the extra guitar straps and picks, the drum covers, the new violin case….ohh…and that T-shirt that says “Fender” across the front. (Fender is a Guitar maker).
So here’s an average cost run down:
- Lessons (per month) $75
- Instrument (rented – per month) $10-$25
- Instrument (purchased) $10 to Sky’s the Limit…
- Books (purchased) $40
- Incidentals (purchased…obviously) Whatever $$ is leftover!
Who Will Pay For Your Homeschool Music Lessons?
If you are working with a charter school, sometimes the charter school will pay for homeschool music lessons, instruments and books.
Another option is work-study. This is where an older student volunteers their time in a music store, or working for a music teacher, in exchange for homeschool music lessons. This can be a really good situation and provide valuable work experience for a child.
You can also look for a “music sponsor” for your child’s homeschool music lessons. This could be a grandparent or other relative, or you could even go to certain philanthropic organizations and see if they sponsor children or have scholarship programs. (If anyone knows any of these specifically, please let me know. I know they’re out there – I just haven’t researched them yet.
Whatever you do, don’t let finances get you down. Personally, our family prefers the minimalist lifestyle. By slimming down on unnecessary spending (we don’t eat out, we don’t buy expensive toys…we live in a commune with every member of my husband’s family…HaHa! Just Kidding!) we’re able to budget for these types of expenditures.
Obtaining quality Instruction
Large music stores/centers will typically have a good list of reputable music instructors. However, it is always best to ask for references. You can also ask friends and family for referrals. One of my children’s music teachers, Todd Weber, is an extended family friend of about 20 years. We couldn’t find a better reference than that!
It is best if children receive private lessons, or one on one instruction. Most reputable instructors will only teach this way. This is extremely beneficial for the child. This way the child works at his/her own pace, and areas of weaknesses can receive extra focus.
I’ve also noticed that it is really important for a child to “bond” with their music teacher. Both of my sons have male music teachers that they look up to as role models. They think their music teachers are “cool dudes” and they practice more because they have a good relationship with their instructors.
Another idea to consider are the many online music lessons that are available now. These are inexpensive yet they take a certain amount of discipline. There are even quite a few websites that have free music lessons that you can download. Check them out.
Choosing an Instrument
There are a lot of different schools of thought about how to choose an instrument for your child. People talk about the length of a child’s fingers or the shape of their mouth and how it relates to their instrument choice. Personally, I don’t care about any of these instrument choosing theories!
Here’s how I do it. Take a good look at your child’s personality. It is my feeling that there, in your child’s personality, you will find the key to what instrument they should play. You will also find that your child will “resonate” with a certain instrument or type of music.
Zennin, my 8 year old son, is very rhythmic. He raps and taps on things, he’ll walk in circles (and drive me crazy) and he’ll make little noises over and over again. This kid is obviously suited for the drums!
My 6 year old daughter, Merrin, will start violin lessons in the fall. She takes classical ballet lessons and is a perfectionist. The violin suits her well. Quintin is very eclectic and spontaneous. He’s an abstract thinker and an abstract musician. Even if there was a music sheet in front of him, I’m not quite sure he’d follow it, instead he’d make up his own thing…on the fly. The electric guitar matches his personality very well.
Raiyna doesn’t resonate with any instrument, but she does sing quite loudly with the radio in the car, so voice lessons are in the works for her. Now sit quietly and listen to your inner voice while you watch your child; the right answer will come to you, and your child will feel it too!
Practice Makes Perfect and Fostering Internally Motivated Musicians
Practice. What a touchy subject. What I want for my children is for them to have the internal motivation to propel themselves forward in anything that they want to do. I won’t always be here to nag them. So actually, I encourage my children to practice only up to a point – and I don’t nag at all. My children are pretty good about setting their own practice schedules and sticking to them. I also encourage my children to dialog regularly with their instructors about how much practicing they’ve been doing. I step out of the music learning process entirely and allow my children to develop a responsibility to their teachers, without me in the middle. This has been so hard, however, it is paying off. My son will look at me now and say, “Mom! I need to practice today!”. Then he just goes and does it! It makes me want to cry!
The other thing I do to encourage my children to practice their instruments, is I will tell them stories about other musicians and the amount of practice they had to put in to reach their goals. I use real life examples that my children can emulate, instead of arbitrary schedules. This has helped to motivate them to keep practicing – even when they don’t want to.