Learning to Hear in a Noisy World - Music History Giveaway

Welcome to Day 4 of The 10 Days of Teaching Music!

I'm so happy to bring you a post today from my former music professor, Dr. Carol Reynolds.   She is also the face of Discovering Music - a wonderful music curriculum for homeschoolers.    I reconnected with Professor Carol at a homeschool conference two years ago, and when we made the connection back to 1990 and Southern Methodist University it was such a happy coincidence!  She has been full of humor, encouragement, and advice for me.   

 I think you will love what Professor Carol writes about today, and also the great giveaway at the end.     

Learning to Hear in a Noisy World


It was a quieter world when J.S. Bach wrote his music.  The loudest sounds he heard were the clop of hooves on cobblestones, the caw of crows, the peal of church bells, and thunder.  Consequently, back when our Classical music was written, the gentlest melody wafting through the air drew attention.  

Until the gramophone (late 1880s) music happened only when someone made it.  If you couldn’t sing or play, you needed to be near someone who could.  

Music’s power is impossible to grasp in our noisy world.  Ask your child to imagine a world without the roar of busses, motorcycles, or airplanes.  Try to erase the sounds of leaf-blowers and jack hammers.  If those aren’t enough to destroy our ability to hear, think how we are bombarded by electronic pop music everywhere we go.  Not to mention those tiny ear buds people screw into their heads (so that “their” music can mask the noise around them).  

What does all this have to do with studying music?  The study of music forces a person to cut through the noise and listen.  It’s true for beginning students, as well as advanced.  Whether it’s matching the pitch produced by one’s voice teacher or seeking an exact finger-position between two notes on the viola, a music student has to listen in focused way to.  And he or she is listening to sounds that, by today’s standards, aren’t loud.  

But hearing the sound isn’t enough.  The student has to penetrate the sound, analyze it, and then do something about it.   

Learning to hear is the unsung benefits of music study.  Discerning, responding to, and controlling sound are high-reflex skills: right-brain activities that pay big benefits in the development of a whole and balanced mind.  And even an unsuccessful try at music lessons opens the door to appreciating music later on.  

Homeschool parents inquiring into our  Discovering Music curriculum ask if a musical background is necessary.  “Not at all,” I say.  (People who have never played a note can still enjoy and understand music, just as I can study art without any ability to paint.)  Some follow their question by “confessing” that they once took a year of piano, band or choir.  They tell me this apologetically, since it may not have led to much proficiency.  

My reply always is to express delight: “You did?  That’s wonderful!”  Am I being solicitous to potential customers?  No.  It is wonderful.  

Even the briefest period of musical study causes a child to tune out the roar of the world.  

Focusing on the careful production of sound is a boon to a child’s neurological development.  Music study affects coordination and many other developmental aspects.  But the greatest gift is learning to hear.

In an American Idol world where grotesquely amplified sound, risqué wardrobe, and social media presence masquerade as musical mastery, the smallest sound your child makes from a real instrument or vocal chord is a cause for celebration. 

Now for the giveaway!  Professor Carol has given me a copy of her DVD set, Exploring America's Musical Heritage.  In Exploring America’s Musical Heritage, Professor Carol – along with 38 historians and artists – takes you on a journey through America’s musical history. The two-DVD set contains more than four hours of engaging instruction.  It is most appropriate for middle and high school students (and also parents who want to learn a lot about the history of American music!).  I think you'll LOVE IT!

You can enter by simply leaving a comment here about Professor Carol's remarks today.   AND, you can earn additional entries by liking Professor Carol on Facebook  and liking Homegrown Learners on Facebook and leaving a comment for each.  Please  be sure there is a way for me to reach you via email! 

This giveaway will be open until midnight on Friday, April 27th!    Good luck!

Tomorrow I'll give you my two cents on piano lessons.   I'll talk about why I require piano lessons and share my favorite books and tips.  

Other posts in this series: 

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