Many of you are diligently working on plans for the upcoming months and terms of your home school. As you put together your schedules, please keep in mind an important key principle. This principle is very freeing, plus it can help your school days run much more smoothly. The key principle is this:
You don’t have to do every subject every day.
Got it? Read it again.
Charlotte tried to have a variety of subjects scheduled each day of the week, so no two days looked the same. Variety in your daily schedule will help the students pay full attention, as we discussed at the beginning of this series. You may find the posts on A Generous Curriculum and Three Basic CM Principles helpful reminders as you lay down plans for the coming weeks of schooling.
Today let’s talk about how Charlotte incorporated music into her students’ education and how you can easily enjoy it in your home school.
Charlotte recognized that not every student would become a virtuoso, but she understood that beauty and enjoyment can be added to life by appreciating good music, singing, and learning the basics of playing music. Here’s how to approach each of those goals.
Simply choose one composer and play his or her music around your house for several weeks. You can play it as background music while you are all eating lunch or working on handicrafts or running errands in the van. You can play it during rest times or while the children are going to sleep (provided the composer was not too rambunctious!). You don’t need fancy introductions or elaborate explanations; just tell the children which composer’s work you are playing. At the end of those weeks, they will have a pretty good feel for that composer’s style. Then you can choose another composer and go again. It’s simple, yet effective!
During those weeks of listening, if you can find a good living biography on your selected composer, read it aloud to the children. Some of our favorite composer biographies for young children are the ones written by Opal Wheeler. Several composers are featured in these great living books: Chopin, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Bach, Brahms, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and more. We have some listed in the CM Bookfinder, and they are available for purchase through Zeezok Publishing, Christian Book Distributors, and Amazon.com.
Charlotte’s students had fun with singing in short sessions a couple of times a week. They used the sol-fa method. If you have watched the movie The Sound of Music, you’ve heard the sol-fa method used to teach the song “Do, a Deer.” The complete method has hand signals, too, and is a great way to teach children to listen closely and to sing in harmony easily.
Don’t worry if you aren’t Julie Andrews and don’t know how to teach your children to sing in harmony; they can still enjoy singing along to recorded music, singing while playing, and singing together as a family. The key is to encourage singing.
Playing an Instrument
Piano was taught to all of Charlotte’s students. Whichever instrument you or your children select to learn, keep in mind the facets of a well-rounded instrumental education. Charlotte encouraged parents to make sure any music lessons included three aspects: music theory and ear training, as well as instruction on the instrument itself.
And if at all possible, give your child an excellent teacher right from the start. Remember, you are laying the foundation as well as cultivating your child’s taste for the fine arts. Charlotte said: “If possible, let the children learn from the first under artists, lovers of their work: it is a serious mistake to let the child lay the foundation of whatever he may do in the future under ill-qualified mechanical teachers, who kindle in him none of the enthusiasm which is the life of art” (Vol. 1, p. 314).
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This is part of the series: Subject by Subject
How to teach each school subject in a Charlotte Mason way.
- A Generous Curriculum: Subject By Subject,
- Three Basic CM Principles: Subject by Subject, Part 2
- Teaching History: Subject by Subject, Part 3
- Teaching Geography: Subject by Subject, Part 4
- Teaching Spelling: Subject by Subject, Part 5
- Teaching Bible: Subject by Subject, Part 6
- Teaching Handicrafts: Subject by Subject, Part 7
- Teaching Science: Subject by Subject, Part 8
- Teaching Foreign Language: Subject by Subject, Part 9
- Teaching Music: Subject by Subject, Part 10
- Teaching Writing: Subject by Subject, Part 11
- Teaching Literature: Subject by Subject, Part 12
- Teaching Grammar: Subject by Subject, Part 13
- Teaching Beginning Reading: Subject by Subject, Part 14
- Teaching Art: Subject by Subject, Part 15
- Teaching Poetry: Subject by Subject, Part 16
- Teaching Math: Subject by Subject, Part 17