Teaching Music Appreciation in Your Homeschool

How do you approach music appreciation in your homeschool?

So often music gets pushed to the sides in our homeschools, and this is such a shame, because it nurtures a part of our children that is deep and meaningful. It speaks directly to their hearts and inspires beautiful thoughts and quiet contemplation.

Do you have a background and feel comfortable teaching this -- or do you feel woefully inept and therefore sometimes avoid it (even though you are aware of its value)?

As with so many areas of homeschooling, I believe we're educating OURSELVES - especially when it comes to areas where we don't possess knowledge.

(My favorite book for music self education is Raising Musical Kids. This books teaches parents how to teach their children to LOVE music and also how to motivate your children to develop their own musical abilities - it's definitely worth finding a copy and keeping on hand for reference.)


Teaching Music Appreciation in Your Homeschool

I love the words of Jim Henson:

 “Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.” 

Martin Luther, ever the master of directness, said this about music:

"I always loved music; who so has skill in this art is of good temperament, fitted for all things."

Today I'd like to talk about how to go about beginning the study of music appreciation in your home.  

First, a crash course on the basics:

The Eras of Music

There are 4 basic eras of music (more if you count early music before the 1600s). For our intents and purposes we begin music appreciation in the 1600s.

(For a detailed description on these periods you can read The History of Classical Music.

Baroque : 1600-1750

Classical: 1750-1830

Romantic: 1830-1920

Modern: 1920- Present

Using The Eras of Music to Guide Music Appreciation Studies

I believe there are two logical ways to approach the study of music appreciation:

1. Study the era of music that coincides with the era you are studying in history.

If you are studying the Renaissance, a survey of Baroque music would be appropriate. If you are studying the Revolutionary War era, then a study of Classical music would be in order.


2. Study an era of music in depth, exposing your children to the great composers of that era. 

This era can be chosen at random or based on a special interest in your home. For example, last year in our homeschool we took a trip to the Oregon Trail. I wanted my children to learn about modern music and how that music was a direct reflection of the adventurous spirit of that time. 

Know the Composers and their Famous Works

As you decide on an era to study, research some of the composers that were prominent during that era and their most famous pieces. 

There are many sites online that will help you with this. I also love the book Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and their 1,000 Greatest Works.   

{It's always bothered me that we refer to all "old" music as "Classical" - because this isn't really correct, is it? You now know that music is divided into eras and "Classical" is one of those eras, but many people refer to classical music in general terms.}

Listen, Listen, Listen!

Whatever you do, just LISTEN to beautiful music. Even if nothing else than pulling up a "Classical" station on Pandora, it's still valuable.

Make time to incorporate a little great music each day. Maybe you want to accompany one meal a day with music or maybe you want to play music at bedtime. Choose a time of day and stick with it!

Dig Deeper and Start Teaching Music Appreciation

In my years as a classroom music teacher and now in my time as a homeschooling mom, I have found enormous value in listening to a piece and then talking about the musical elements of that piece.

Just like we read a classic novel and analyze the elements of that work, we must do the same thing with great pieces of music.

To that end, I have put my heart into my music appreciation curriculum -- SQUILT -- or Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time

The SQUILT Curriculum

This course is designed for parents who have LITTLE OR NO MUSICAL KNOWLEDGE.

Of course, if you have musical knowledge, that's fine, too!  

Through listening to a piece once SUPER QUIET, and then listening again and recording observations about the elements of the music, our children learn to be better listeners.  The SQUILT curriculum provides you, the teacher, with the "script" for taking a child through a piece of music. The answers are all there.

You can print the listening notebooking sheets and reference sheets that help your child learn the "grammar" of music appreciation.

(image courtesy The Unplugged Family)

Everything is in one convenient PDF file - no need to purchase music.

Simply OPEN AND GO. 

I also provide supplemental resources to make music FUN -- cartoons and classical music, different performances of a piece of music, and interesting facts about composers and instruments. It's all designed to keep your child engaged and learning. 

The SQUILT Curriculum includes many different option to make music appreciation simple and easy in your homeschool:

  • Eras series --- 4 different volumes focusing on Baroque, Classical, Romantic & Modern Music
  • Composer Spotlights -- shorter volumes focusing on specific composers
  • Meet the Instruments -- a printable instrument flashcard and accompanying video resource to make learning instruments of the orchestra fun

If you'd like to give SQUILT a try you may download a free lesson sample.


Do you teach music appreciation in your homeschool?

If you don't, do you mind sharing WHY?  I'd love to know! 


Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1

The older my children become, the more thankful I become for the time we have spent learning about music and art. 

Fostering a love of art and music not only creates more well-rounded children, it also creates children with an appreciation of TRUTH, BEAUTY, and GOODNESS. 

One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is that children have the luxury of studying art and music in ABUNDANCE!  

This year we will be very INTENTIONAL about incorporating fine arts. A SIMPLE plan of attack - one that will work in the schedules of my elementary and high schooler - is in order.

Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1


Mornings are the perfect time for fine arts. 

This year we will intersperse art & music, making sure to incorporate a little of each every single day. 

LESS IS MORE - and by incorporating a little bit of art and music into the first hour of our day, I hope to make a lasting impression. 

Breakfast is the time in our homeschool when we are all together (and this year dad will be with us since he works from home now -- hooray!) and I can easily incorporate fine arts. 

During this time together at the table we always have a devotion, watch CNN Student News, and then will move on to art or music study. 

Hopefully, we can compact these things into 45 minutes. 

While I'm not always a stickler for "the schedule" - morning is a time when the kids get up (usually by 7:30), and we are all together at the breakfast table by 8 a.m.  This is the best way for our family to get everything accomplished in a day. 

Art Appreciation

We have several artists on our schedule this year. (They are recommended in our CC Foundations guide.)  

While we may not study the artist on the exact week, I have just come up with a rough schedule of artists we can study during the first 12 weeks. 

  • Ghiberti
  • Angelico
  • Durer
  • Michelangelo
  • El Greco

My plan is to read a brief biography (which I will locate online) about each of these artists, and then find representative works online as we go.  

We will be using Discovering Great Artists as our guide. 

I have also found this GREAT little deck of art appreciation cards for Go Fish.  I imagine we will be using them quite a bit! 

I also LOVE the suggestions made in this post about using art books to foster art appreciation.  I am a firm believer in strewing books around the home to help us learn about a particular subject. 

In the past I have tried creating a strict "schedule", but I have found that it inhibited my children's sense of exploration. If I simply start by saying "Let's see what we can find out about Angelico", I find that we do research together and make interesting discoveries. 

Too much rigid planning can stifle creativity! 

Music Appreciation

This year we will be focusing on a variety of composers, from Bach to Mozart.

In our Foundations guide Bach, Handel, and Mozart are covered. We will learn about other composers from their respective musical eras (the Baroque & Classical Eras). 

{ In case you hadn't gathered, this area is my favorite - and my area of expertise because I was an elementary music teacher. }

And, of course I will be using the curriculum I've written - SQUILT

This year, as part of Cycle 1, we will be working our way through SQUILT Volume 1 & 2 (Baroque and Classical Eras).  


What I LOVE about SQUILT is that it is 100% open-and-go -- each lesson teaches my kids about a great musical work and teaches them how to SPEAK and WRITE about a piece of music. 

We can simply sit at the breakfast table with the iPad or laptop and conduct a SQUILT lesson from there.   It's so simple -- I designed it for ALL parents - especially those with NO MUSICAL BACKGROUND!   

AND, because the SQUILT site is freshly redesigned, I'm offering a 25% discount on any SQUILT volume or bundle -- this week only!   

That's the SIMPLE plan of attack for fine arts this year in our homeschool. 

There are no elaborate schedules or online booklists, just a plan that we can follow - while allowing for interest and creativity to lead the way.

What is YOUR plan of attack for studying fine arts?  

Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1