View Full Version : teaching music...

09-11-2011, 03:42 PM
I've heard people say "I couldn't teach my child, I'm not a teacher." Or as my brother once said to me, "okay, kindergarten's fine, but now that your son is in grade one, why do you think you could do as good a job teaching as a highly trained professional?"

I've never taken those sort of comments very seriously. Sure I don't know tons about teaching, but I know a lot about my children. I know them very, very well. I know how to work with them. And I'm willing to learn all sorts of things about the subjects I'm teaching them. I've done lots and lots of reading on different ways to help my oldest learn how to read. I've done my homework finding a math curriculum (Right Start Mathematics) that I feel covers a lot of the extra strategy things I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I think I can do a pretty darn good job teaching them.

Then... then comes the funny issues.... like music. About two weeks ago, on a whim I bought a beginner piano book. My six year old got excited. He wants to learn piano. So almost every day for the past two weeks we've sat down and had about ten minutes of piano practice time. Things are going okay. I'm pleased with what he's starting to learn and like always I've thrown myself into learning more about teaching piano. (This morning I made cardboard music notes, which I attached magnet tape too, so that we can arrange music on our whiteboard. I've got ideas for making this all interactive and stuff.)

Anyway... the thing is, that the insecurities I didn't feel about teaching other subjects, I feel about teaching music. I'm not incredibly musical. I took lessons for years and years but never really got anywhere with it. So I feel guilty trying to teach him this, like maybe this subject he does need another teacher for. (Something that isn't an option right this moment, for financial reasons.)

I know in my home province, where my sister-in-law is teaching, the school boards have cut having a French teacher, and just get the elementary teachers to teach French, regardless of whether they know the language or not. They've done or are doing the same thing to music lessons. So I know that in school, kids are getting some music instruction from less than highly trained professionals. But does that justify my attempting to teach my kids some?

When we can, we'll get music lessons for him. In the meantime, how wrong am I likely to teach him?

09-11-2011, 05:59 PM
You can take him as far as you can teach yourself. Beginning piano is pretty easy to do with kids IMO and if you can read music and played yourself you can probably take him through the basics without any issues. Once you feel to stretched or he's becoming better than you get a teacher. That's pretty much my plan. I had my daughter in piano the start of last year. It was really pretty pointless, I can read music and could easily do what the teacher was doing. Then my daughter lost interest so it ended but if she decides to pick it up again I won't get a teacher until I really feel she is beyond my own ability.

Stella M
09-11-2011, 06:27 PM
You can most certainly give your child a basic exposure to a music education, even if you have no experience in the subject.

We chose recorder because I wanted my dd to learn how to read music and to have the pleasure of playing music. Neither of us wanted in invest in music education more than that. We used the 9 Note Recorder Method, which is awesome :) I know people hear 'recorder' and shudder, but played well, it's lovely. I play with her and so we can do duets, which sound even lovelier.

We also have done many years of music appreciation the CM way, including the opportunity to hear live performances. Lots of books about composers, the orchestra etc. And dance classes provide to opportunity to develop musicality.

If, at any stage - after the age of 8 or 9 - she had wanted to learn a 'real' instrument to a higher level, I would have had to outsource. In terms of meeting my initial aims, I'm more than happy with what she's accomplished.

We all have our subjects we feel less confident in than others; I've found the trick is to forge ahead anyway and see how it goes :) Sounds like your son has learned two good things so far - his mama takes his interests seriously, and piano is fun! Sounds like a great start in a musical education to me.

I also think it's absolutely valid to live within one's means, even if that means doing the best you can teaching a subject at home.

09-11-2011, 07:20 PM
I have a friend who gives piano lessons and she said anyone with a grasp of basic music theory can teach beginning piano. I have my nephew's primer level Piano Adventure books and I'm going to give it a shot myself.

My stock response to someone questioning my teaching skills is that much of what "highly trained professionals" learn is how to manage a classroom of 25 kids, which is totally irrelevant to homeschooling. The actual teaching isn't rocket science.

09-11-2011, 10:47 PM
I'm trying to teach my daughter the violin. We're not doing well. I played from 5th grade through my first semester of college and it came naturally to me, and I am having a horrible time teaching it to her. I truly believe there are some things I just can't do a good job of teaching. I don't have a problem paying for an enrichment class for those things. ;) We're going to try that starting in the spring and until then we'll muddle through.

09-12-2011, 01:29 PM
Two things that I feel the most insecure about teaching are art and music. AND I HAVE A MUSIC DEGREE! (sorry, yes I was yelling). I am totally insecure about doing math, but I don't have a problem teaching my kids math. But music! Geesh, you'd think I'd be more confident there. Anyway, I don't have any advice, just thought I'd commiserate. I'm essentially of the mind that I would rather that they do art and music with someone else.

09-12-2011, 06:52 PM
my kids just started piano. they are age 9. we have a teacher that comes to the house and she teaches using the Faber method. we started with the primer level books. i took piano as a child, i know the notes, i have a general understanding of music, but by no means do i call myself a 'pianist'!! now, having said that, now that we have been doing it for about 4 months now, i feel totally irritated that i HAVE been paying someone else to teach them! she comes for 30 mins per week for each child. the OTHER 5 or 6 days of the week, it is ME who is sitting there next to them practicing. i'm happy to do it, they are doing well and it is coming pretty easy to them, but i just keep thinking that i should have saved my money and taught them through the first year or so on my own since the real mastery comes from playing a little bit each day. it doesn't come from a once a week 30 minute time slot where you play what you have been practicing for teacher.

i think i will keep them in, but for my two youngers i won't put them in lessons until i have taught them for a year or so.

09-12-2011, 08:39 PM
Thank you for all the interesting replies here!

09-13-2011, 06:27 PM
Hurricane has a piano teacher who also gives him music theory assignments, which we both love because we have similar temperaments for the nuts and bolts of music-making. I'm not insecure about music, as I can play a few different instruments passably well, so while I don't have the problem you have, I can echo the idea that if you get the basics of theory down, like note names, terms like melody, harmony, etc., you'll be fine at that age until you can get into lessons. In the meantime, why not expose him to different kinds of music, like classical vs. folk, Middle Eastern vs. Gaelic, whatever; as well as different instruments and what they sound like. That will give him an ear for all the different sorts of musical expression out there and maybe even steer him toward some areas he'd like to explore.

I love teaching music to the kids. In a different life I might have become a band director if I thought it would ever have been financially worth it. :)