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A day or two ago, I turned  the classical music playlist on as the boys were here working on their academics.  M looked up and said, “I know that song.  I love this!.” One of the songs from Beethoven’s Wig was playing.  Later, one of the twins (15 months) was grinning, swaying, and bouncing back and forth.  A Sousa march was playing.  While my family may not know all the composers by name, they certainly know what they like!  I am still grinning!

Musical education does not require special training or talent.  You can provide a diverse education for your family with a little creativity.  Some ideas include:

Study composers one at a time.  Use books such as Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers by Patrick Cavanaugh.  Read the stories and listen to the referenced compositions.  Listening to a variety of any composer’s music can help develop a familiarity for their work and, potentially, love for certain composers. Or they find they prefer a certain type or genre.  Fugue, sonatas, ballads, or symphonies.  If so, look for those types of compositions  from the various composers.

Study music by creative period.  Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and so on.  Each period of time has its own style and characteristics.  Some is orderly while other music is more playful or dissident.  The study of music along with history can assist in developing a “feel” for the time in which it was written.

Have fun with music.  Find recordings such as Beethoven’s Wig I, II and III.  Look for nonsense song books or recordings.  Find “kid-friendly” music.  Wee Sing has produced a series of CDs that cover many types of children’s music in an easy-to-listen-to format.  Brite Music also has great CDs for children with positive messages.  Marches, lullabies, and songs with finger-plays can all give them exposure to the wonders of music.  If you have a strong ethnic tie to a specific genre or instrument, introduce it to your children as you learn about family history.  (Our family has strong ties to the Celts on both my side and my husbands.  A pipe and drum corp has been known to bring tears to my eyes.  Now we take the grandchildren to hear them as they play in local venues, and joy as they grin and can’t help dancing.)

Formal lessons in instrumental or vocal training tend to be more successful when started at age 7 or later.  My own teaching experience and many music teachers I asked expressed the concern that children younger than 7 often lack the discipline and drive to “stick with it”.  Practice is required if mastery is the goal. If you are uncertain about your ability to help your children in their musical endeavors, look for the book Raising Musical Kids by Patrick Cavanaugh.

I was raised in a home where music abounded!  My mother is a trained pianist and accompanist, my father was a trumpeter in the Air Force Band and played in a number of bands when he was younger.  We watched musicals, went to concerts, sang in choirs, and listened to a wide variety of musical genres and performers. Each of my siblings took lessons on at least one instrument.  I was a music major at the university with a focus on strings and vocals.  My own love of music stems in part from the opportunities I was given as I grew up in my own home.

Music can seem intimidating.  Don’t let it.  Just go out and expose you and your family to what life has to offer.  However you choose to approach it, experience music as a family.  Listen to a variety of genres live or on CD, go to musical theater, acquaint yourself with religious and cultural music.  Watch dance from around the world.  You’ll love some, and some may not be to your liking (I still am not an opera fan).  Make it an on-going voyage of discovery.  Enjoy!

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