Posted on August 15, 2016
10 Free or Cheap Homeschool Music Resources
This week we start our new homeschooling term, and having recently gone through our home education plans for this year, I have been thinking about which music resources our family uses.
Our son has had piano lessons for the past year, after many years of learning at home, and the girls are also learning to play the piano at home, in addition to them learning the recorder with me. However, as I thought about it, there are actually quite a few music resources that we use or have used over the years, which are either free or cheap, and have been a really good addition to our homeschooling.
10 Free or Cheap Homeschool Music Resources:
- Books! One of my favourite homeschooling resources in general (!), we have also used books to learn more about different aspects of music. For example, we have an excellent book with accompanying CD of Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf, which introduces children to different instruments of the orchestra, and the Ladybird Story of Music. We have also enjoyed Douglas Bond’s Mr Pipes series, which follows an English organ player teaching an American brother and sister about traditional hymns and their writers; Usborne’s Learn to Play Mozart, which has lots about the composer himself and the history of music, in addition to simplified versions of his pieces; this BBC Songs of Praise history of Christmas carols and hymns; and the Recorder from the Beginning series of books and accompanying CDs.
- Free music printables. For example this printable manuscript music staff paper for writing your own music, and these music practice tracking sheets, which we have used in the past to encourage the children to practice piano playing when their enthusiasm waned.
- Music Appreciation resources. At the moment we listen to a Classics for Kids episode once a week- they are short, free, and usually cover a composer or genre of music, teaching you more about them and allowing you to hear some of their music for yourself. We have also used Kim Sorgius’ Count Your Blessings Hymn Study, which we really enjoyed. She also has an Easter hymn study, When I Survey, and a Christmas hymn study. The studies include words and music for the hymns, biographical information about the composers/ writers, and lots of fun and devotional activities and printables to do.
- Online tutorials and lessons. We have bought The Great Courses’ ‘How Music and Math Relate’ course for our son, who will be 15 next month. This is a video course comprising 12 lectures by Professor David Kung of St Mary’s College Maryland, and a coursebook, however this was quite an expensive purchase, that we made using gift money from a relative. There are also various free or cheap tutorials and lessons online, for example I just heard recently on the Digital Homeschool Convention about Karen’s Teach Your Child Piano course, which is good for younger children, and specifically designed for ‘musically untrained’ homeschool parents.
- Online music streaming or radio. We use Spotify and Classic FM to listen to a wide variety of music styles. I got this idea from Karen Andreola’s Moments with Mother Culture blog- to listen to Jazz, World Music, Baroque, Gregorian Chants etc- to tie in with other topics we are studying at the time, for example in history. This exposes the children to a much wider range of music genres than we would otherwise come across. In the past we have been given various CDs which came free with my mum’s BBC Music magazine, and obviously you could also buy secondhand music to do this, although it would not be free.
- Downloadable music composition software. Now that our son is going further on with music theory, he enjoys composing his own music, and likes to make it look ‘professional’, rather than just handwritten. In the past he had used the free version of Finale NotePad, but recently we discovered another free downloadable program called MuseScore, which he feels is much more user-friendly, and a better specification.
- Local opportunities to practice in performance. Currently our son is able to play the keyboard as part of worship at our church, at times throughout the year. Obviously this is much more than just ‘performance’ for him, but it is an additional way of practicing what he has learned. In the past we have taken part in musical ‘talent shows’ that our homeschooling group held. Here we also know people who take art in various festivals for traditional Scottish instruments, such as the bagpipes or clarsach (a type of small harp). We have also had several very kind (and musical) friends who have listened to the children play piano or recorder, and given them tips, though not in a formal lesson setting.
- Percussion box. We haven’t used this as much as our children have got older, but of course we do have a new ‘little person’ on the way! We gradually gathered these items from charity shops, gifts etc, and used to have a sort of singing time where we also used these instruments.
- Free or cheap local music events. Our local community hall held a traditional Scottish music workshop at the beginning of the school holidays. For us, these sort of events are advertised locally on noticeboards, and in the local newspaper. Slightly more expensive, we have in the past bought tickets to children’s concerts by choirs and orchestras, which are usually advertised on the websites or flyers for the venue, and museums also sometimes hold similar events or workshops for children.
- Don’t be frightened to sing together! We are currently using the ‘Put On’ Chart lesson book from Doorposts, (which is available from Icthus Resources in the UK), for our Bible time in the morning, and this gives suggested hymns at the end of each lesson. Don’t be embarrassed to sing unaccompanied as a family, even if (like me), you are not a great singer!
Do you have a recommendation for music resources? Please leave a comment and let me know.
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