Homeschool Music Lesson

Homeschool Music Lesson

As the founder of the Zion Conservatory for the Performing Arts and as a Homeschooling Mother myself, my target audience in sharing on the Web Site is in fact home schooling Mothers who may be feeling overwhelmed with the idea of teaching Music to their children.

Click on the image to get to my vocal studio!

I was so blessed to grow up in a family where music was the focus. My Mother taught Piano, was a dancer and a musical theatre director. She also conducted numerous choirs and has composed her own songs and hymns. She is also a gifted arranger and taught all of her eight children to sing, dance, act, and how to play the piano and the organ.

My older children have benefited from the musical foundations that my husband and I instilled into them and with Ben, we have made the study of music a huge part of his middle school education.

I challenge you to take on the task of teaching music to your children!

There is no doubt that the many music classes I took in school, the choirs, the shows, the dance classes, and the performing opportunities that were always around me had a huge impact on my abilities and desires to teach music to children as an adult.

But it is the early memories of dancing around the living room, singing around the piano, and listening to my parents sing to us as Dad played the guitar that had the most profound impact on my heart and mind.

All parents can sing to their children!

Music engages our children’s brains in unique and special ways.

A Musicians Brain

When a child sings and plays an instrument at the same time, both sides of the brain are engaged and there is a crisscrossing of neurological skills that is visible in the younger students.

I watched this as I taught my musical theatre class this past year. I would teach the children the words and notes and once they had the songs memorized I taught them the choreography. As soon as they started to dance, they would forget to sing and when I reminded them to sing, they would forget to dance.

We made a game of it and I tried to work with them very gently and in a fun and upbeat way. As they would dance together I would shout out…remember to dance – and if one of the children started doing it, I would lavish praise and joy on him or her and stop the song and have all of the other children look and applaud.

It was amazing to see those neurons open up during class. I could literally witness the brain changes and growth as we moved through the three hours of class. We only had one practice a week, and this was intentional, because the children needed time to process this difficult skill and time to step away and do other things during the week.

Children today are often over scheduled and overwhelmed by the many demands that modern life places on them.

The wise homeschooling parent will recognize the need for play, for the work of childhood is play!~

Playing with my first Musical Theatre Company.jpg with Fred Rodgers Quote

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

Fred Rogers

One of the great gifts the homeschooling child enjoys is a tremendous amount of time spent in play.

When we were in class we were on task the whole time moving from activity to activity in a flurry of fun. Whenever I noticed that I was losing interest, we switched activities and I always had one or two music games or activities ready to go at a moments notice to constantly engage their curiousity. The little ones under the age of 8 would occasionally zone out daydreaming and I did not discipline or shame them for this in any way. During those quiet “zone out moments” much is happening in the mind of a child while they experience a “reconciliation” or settling phase of learning as they integrate what was just taught.

With Ben it has been fun to walk this musical journey for the past 12 years. 

I sang to him daily while I was pregnant and he loved the lullabies and hymns I sang to him when he was a child.

I started teaching him piano very early and he had about zero interest in it until he was about 8. His brother learned a song on the piano and he decided to teach Ben. This illustrates so well the impact of siblings and other loved ones and friends influence on our children. If Mom is having difficulty teaching a child to love or appreciate music, the mentoring of an older sibling or friend can be invaluable.

We have dabbled in piano, recorder, guitar, drums, and music theory, with short little lessons that lasted for no longer than five minutes.  Mostly I have tried to seize moments when they appeared and strongly encouraged him to sing in choirs and perform this past year even when he did not seem interested.

Today he spent a few minutes working on his Dads guitar.  He prefers the strings because his own guitar has steel strings and it is difficult to play.  As he worked I realized we were having a breakthrough music moment.  He had the song sheet to Halleluia and was attempting to use the music chords chart I bought for him months ago to figure out the five chords for Halleluia.

He came running into my bedroom and told me that he was able to hear the song in the chords.  He started to play and I hummed along.  Then I asked him if he thought he could play while I sang it.  He looked doubtful, but then he just started to play.  I sang it through a couple times and then he decided on his own to sing it while he chorded on the guitar.

As his excitement grew I knew that we had to record this moment in time.  So I asked him if he would feel comfortable taping him singing and playing.  He was a little skittish about it, but then he said, “OK”.  He really did not want to record until it was perfected.  I use recording during my voice lessons to help my students self critique their performances.  Often they have no idea how they look or sound to an audience until I video tape them and they are able to watch.  This is a powerful way to help teach performance skills.

When Ben finished the first verse of the song I asked him if he would be OK explaining on video how his musical training has helped him get to the point where he could easily learn a five chord song in an hour on the guitar. So we taped his testimonial and here it is:

And Ben being able to do it as a 12 year old is a witness to me that the slow and gentle style of learning works best for him! If I were to add up all of the hours I spent “teaching” him music as a teacher would teach a student, it would probably be no more than ten hours total over his whole life.

But if I were to add up the hours spent in musical efforts around our home, it would total thousands upon thousands of hours spent singing, dancing, playing, and listening to music.

It is in those supposedly “non-productive” moments of family life where the most powerful music lessons are taught.

Halleluia!

If you as a homeschooling parent will simply make music a part of your home environment and then purchase a few simple tools, a beginning guitarthe guitar chord charta music theory book, and a few rhythm instruments, a keyboard, a drum pad, a recorder, etc etc… and then gently and systematically begin and be ready to seize the moment…if you will do this, I believe you can have a huge influence on your child’s musical abilities.

For the past six months since we purchased his guitar I have quietly nudged him to open it up, play around on it, tune it…and he did here and there, but mostly he did nothing.  But this morning he has spent over four hours working mostly on his own without any more input from me than the initial – “why don’t you play while I sing?” question, and then stepping back and letting him learn on his own.

When his Papa came home for lunch he proudly pulled out the guitar and gave his best performance of the morning for Dad.

Ben Hatch age 12

Musical Magic happens BEST in a small family setting!

Jenny Hatch

Six Years Later… HERE