Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chapter 4: Music Appreciation

This little section about Music could perhaps more properly called Composer Study, as that is really the heart of what Bobby Scott is writing about. He suggests that when we play good music for children, we are training their taste for what is good and beautiful, and he has some practical suggestions for how to work music into our CM curriculum. For example:

Playing music from a particular time period being studied
Playing music during quiet times, as a way to soothe the children
Using music during poetry recitation

He also has some ideas about formally studying composers themselves. Start with the composer's most known piece of music, for example, and allow the students to try to guess who it is. Or have someone dress up as the composer, and let the students ask questions to try to identify them. Once the composer has been named, find his place on the timeline, discuss responses to the music, let the students listen to the music during non-"school" times. The goal is not for the students to be able to recognize music for a test, but to enjoy it, feel at home with it.

I had a few other thoughts about this topic, which occurred as I was reading. I appreciated that Mr. Scott reminded teachers that the goal is enjoyment and pleasure, as well as historical and biographical knowledge of the composer. I would be wary of students performing "parlor tricks" and impressing other grown-ups with the fact that they can recognize Beethoven. I think, especially with homeschoolers, there can be a tendency towards snobbery with things like this. "My kids know classical music. What are yours learning in that school of theirs?"

He also mentioned giving time to "a wide variety" of music and historical periods, including the modern era. I wholeheartedly agree. While I would, of course, be cautious with the types of music I exposed my children too, there is some beautiful music produced in the last 100 or even 50 years, which can certainly be included in "music appreciation." In our home, for example, we try not to have "children's music" and "grown-up" music. While making dinner, I often listen to jazz, and I'm sure my littles will come to associate dinner with Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra:) On weekend mornings, Daddy will often turn on Mozart, when we drive in the car, they might get a little Bob Dylan or Pete Seeger (Mommy loves folk music), and I have a CD with multiple different versions of Ave Maria, performed by various artists, which they love. Music exposure is not the same as formal study, of course, but I do think, particularly as they get older, they can study The Beatles, for instance, as a cultural phenomenon, as well as a subject for music theory and performance, and good, interesting, lovely music has a way of seeping into your mind, even whist you are busy doing other things.

I cannot imagine life without wonderful music, and I hope my children will build up a love of it, and that their taste for beauty will be grown in our home. I have a particular fondness for the Romantics, especially Rachmaninoff, and we'll be enjoying him in the background of our reading this morning:)

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