Category Archives: music

5 Ways to Include Music in Your Education

5 Ways to Include Music

Music has been a part of our lives for as long as I can remember. I grew up playing the piano at home and French horn at school. My parents both sang and I remember many times where my mom would play the piano, my dad would play the guitar, and we would all sing. One of my favorite songs from those sing alongs is Four Strong Winds. Just something that has stuck with me.

At Home Dad also grew up surrounded by music. He played clarinet and then trumpet. He still plays trumpet for the Honor Guard at work. He plays the guitar around the house.

We bring music into our girls education as much as we can, though we still don’t do it as often or as consistently as we should. Especially considering the music degrees that are held in this house. 🙂 But we try. How? Well, I thought I would just share some of those options and maybe get your own ideas flowing or encourage you to bring music into your home.

1 Play an instrument. – Whether it is you or the kids, bring in instruments. They can be as simple as shakers or wood blocks or as elaborate as a hammered dulcimer or a piano. Just have some musical instruments around. It encourages exploration with music. And you can learn simple things about music, such as dynamics (loud and quiet) or tempos (fast and slow), with them.

2 Get some CDs. – These can be any type of music that you enjoy but I highly recommend you have a variety of styles. We have everything from early music (1100s) to some of the popular musicians of today. We have folk music and cultural music from around the world. We have hymns and we have children’s songs. We have rock and we have jazz. We even have some instructional CDs that help students learn to identify instruments by sound or work through program music (such as the Maestro Classics). Listen to them. You can do it intentionally or you can just have it as back ground music. Just have it going.

3 Sing together. – Yes, sing. You don’t have to have a majestic voice to raise a joyful noise. Sing songs from your childhood. Sing along with the radio. Personally, we sing hymns most every day of the week. We have also been singing rounds with the girls this year each morning. We have used Diana Waring’s music and history CDs some this year and sung along with those.

4 Tie it into your studies. – If you read something in a book or a lesson that brings a song or a type of music to mind, pull it out and listen or sing. Don’t miss the opportunity. The Little House books are a great example of opportunities for this. Look up the mentioned songs on the computer if you don’t have them in the house. History lessons present wonderful opportunities to tie music into something else you are studying and the music often reflected the times in which it was created.

5 Go on a field trip. – Often, there are many opportunities for field trips related to music. Do you have an orchestra somewhere within an hour or two? They often do an educational concert in the fall or spring where the tickets are relatively inexpensive. We have opportunities for this with the Waco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the Fort Worth Symphony, just to name a couple. We have only gone once, I think, but it is a great option. We also have a community college and a major university here. We can go see free concerts from a variety of ensembles – choirs, bands, orchestras, and even early music ensembles. They also have inexpensive productions of musicals and operas and theater productions that we can go see. You might even have opportunity to visit an instrument zoo or something along those lines at a library, particularly during the summer.

A big part of including music in your education is to just make it simple. Keep it easy and don’t stress over it. Especially in the younger years, it doesn’t have to be a big formal thing. Enjoy it and have fun. Do dances (Pop Goes the Weasel is a fabulous one!) and listen to music. Try out simple instrument, even make your own. Just find the joy in music.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com offers a variety of courses that will help you add music education to your homeschool. Visit the site to learn more about the courses available and to see what specials are going on.

Some course offerings include

PrintMusic Theory I and II

 

PrintMusic Throughout History

PrintMusic/Voice

 

 

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Colonial Williamsburg

After eating lunch at Pocahontas State Park, we headed into Williamsburg and checked into our hotel. We had found a great deal on a package with one of the Colonial Williamsburg hotels. If you visit, I would suggest checking to see the prices. We were able to stay at the hotel within walking distance of the entrance AND get our passes for three days (we only used one) for about what it would have cost us for a hotel elsewhere in the area. So, we basically got our passes for free. And the hotel had a fabulous continental breakfast included.

As I stated, we checked in during the late afternoon. It was really too late to head over since much of Colonial Williamsburg closes at 5 unless you have tickets for some of their special events. We knew we would be extremely tired by this point in our trip and so we elected to not push it. We stayed in the hotel room, vegged out, took a swim, ate dinner, and slept. We woke refreshed and eager the next morning.

We got into Colonial Williamsburg about the time it opened. We took a tour of the Governor’s Palace right off the bat. It was spectacular. The armament was basically kept here and there were TONS of weapons. They created beautiful decor in the entry way. They also would have served well to warn folks about how serious the area was in their protection. The gentleman we had giving us the tour was well versed in his material and knew not just about the Governor’s Palace but was able to answer questions about all of the city and the history and time period. He did a wonderful job of acquainting us with the time and all that was going on in the area.

The Palace was beautiful. It was furnished as close as they could to an original set up, including ordering rugs and paint colors to be done exactly as they would have originally. It was beautiful.

From there, we hurried across the way to a museum so that we could hear a performance of the glass armonica. This is the instrument that Benjamin Franklin invented. It is glass and played by spinning the glass instrument quickly and playing the edges with wetted fingers. It was lovely and the music is ethereal. Dean Shostak is a well known musician and talked much about how to play the armonica, as well as how it is made. He performed a number of pieces on it for us. He also pulled out a glass violin he had had made. Now, it had nothing to do with the colonial time period but it was a stunning instrument. His performance on it was stunning, too. Needless to say, we came away with several of his recordings.

glass armonica picture

After that, we just kind of wandered through the area. We ended up following a school tour and that allowed us to hear quite a bit more than if we had just come through on our own in several of the craftsmen’s shops. We did find that most of the folks were less than eager to answer questions, which was a bit disappointing. So, following the school group was a good thing for us.

We visited the tin smith, the leather smith, the dress maker, the silver smith, the tavern, and the school. Many places were closed, which we found very odd.

Another of my favorite parts came at the close of the day – the drum and fife group. We hung around to be able to hear them play their day ending ceremonies. They were dressed in stunning red uniforms and marched military style to their performances. They performed a number of pieces and it was lovely to watch. The drum and fife group would have been fairly essential to the life of the colony and it was a neat way to close out the day.

I did find myself wishing we had time to go back the next day but we decided we needed to head on. We were heading to New Bern, NC, to meet someone for lunch so we couldn’t dawdle too long. Our time at Colonial Williamsburg was very interesting and the girls still talk about hearing the glass armonica. That will be a lasting memory and well worth the trip.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Practice Monkeys – Live Violin Classes ~ a Crew review

miss j playing

Music has a way of opening up joy in your life and I eagerly await hearing my girls practice each day. Miss L, age 12, and Miss J, age 9, are both playing the violin and have been working with Practice Monkeys. The Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes is for live, online classes but there are many aspects to the program that make it exceptional. As you read through this, realize that this is a family subscription – one subscription for all students in the family!

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Practice Monkeys fills a niche that I have seen in the home education world but also in the world of music education in general. Not everyone has access to musical education and to find string education is even harder for most people. Practice Monkeys is a series of leveled classes that are taught live, with plenty of recorded videos to help with practice and instruction when a live class has to be missed.

practice monkeys on the computer

There are currently 9 levels of violin on the Practice Monkeys site. If you are not a complete beginner, be sure to connect with Mrs. Van Kleek to set you up in the right level. Each level meets for about 15 minutes, four days a week. The time for each level is different so it is necessary to find your level to know the class time.

These live classes form the core of instruction and without them, learning violin is extremely difficult. Live classes allow for correction and training that just cannot be done with recordings alone. When you attend a live class, Mrs. Van Kleeck can look at your hand position, your bow position, and help you make those necessary corrections. She can also listen to the sound and advise what might need to be done. For example, without the live class participation, Mrs Van Kleeck cannot advise a student when their bow needs more rosin or their finger placement is just a smidge off. Tuning is another place where attending a live, online class will benefit. When the tuning is off as a beginner, you don’t often hear it or recognize it.

These are the benefits that Practice Monkey gives a student. Live teacher input allows for immediate correction and attention to detail that makes the difference between getting frustrated and giving up and making noticeable progress and learning to play.

Along with the live classes, a subscription to Practice Monkeys gets you access to the Treehouse for your placement level. The Treehouse is where you find practice videos, tuning help, instrument help, printable sheets for the skills in your level, parent tips, practice sheets, and videos for the performance pieces required to advance. It is packed full!

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As with all quality instruction, there are times for assessment and a checklist to help the student advance. The Treehouse has a printable checklist for the parent so that they can do a pre-assessment to know when to schedule a live assessment with Mrs. Van Kleeck. The checklist is clear and the expectations are laid out nicely so the student knows exactly what needs to be done. Once the student can go through the checklist with the parent, it is time to schedule that live assessment. In the live assessment, Mrs. Van Kleeck meets one-on-one with the student outside of the regular class time to go through the checklist and determine if the student is ready for the next level.

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Each week, an email of reminders and helpful hints is sent out. This is a great way to not forget to plan your practice time. One of the reminders is to print out the student’s practice sheet for the week. These sheets help with remembering each aspect of the practice time and to also progress in a consistent manner with the classes, skills, and pieces being learned. There are always helpful tidbits in the email, as well as reminders about any schedule changes for holidays and such.

getting ready for an assessment

These Suzuki-based classes are just what the home school community has been looking for. They offer something that is definitely needed and Mrs. Van Kleeck does a fabulous job of teaching her students. As stated earlier, the classes meet four days per week because music students need this much practice. The classes go from absolute beginnner to the end of Suzuki Book IV. There are also now piano classes being offered that at this point go from beginner to the end of Suzuki Book One.

miss l playing

Interested? At this point, lots of questions may be running through your mind. Hop over to the FAQ page for Practice Monkeys and read up on what is there. If you still have questions or concerns, a form is available on that page to send Mrs. Van Kleeck a message. There are also samples of the recorded classes on the page. If the sample is not quite enough, you can request to attend a single class for free to see how it all works.

Do note – these classes are live and online so there are some things you will need to acquire for the class. Obviously, an instrument is needed. Sizing and rental information is available in the FAQ as well as more detailed information on the FAQ page. You will need a paid subscription to Practice Monkeys. You will need a computer with a microphone and camera that work, as well as an internet connection. This will get you up and running with Practice Monkeys.

I know I speak positively about a lot of things. I wish I could just continue gushing about this program, though. Truly, I think it is wonderful and such a needed program. I highly encourage anyone looking for string instruction, or piano instruction (though I have not seen this part of the program), to check out Practice Monkeys.

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There is currently a special going on for readers of this blog and the Homeschool Review Crew. A special price is available for those who sign-up to become part of the Practice Monkeys community before February 1, 2019. The special price will be yours for the lifetime of your subscription. Visit the special page to read more and sign up.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There were several other Homeschool Review Crew families who also reviewed Practice Monkeys. Be sure to click on the image below to read their reviews.

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Texas Bucket List – Y: Yellow Rose ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Y

Y is a hard letter for Texas. I found a couple of places but they were strange or didn’t really seem to fit the sort of thing I was going for. So, I went for a good old Texas folk song.

I am just going to share a couple of recordings of the song with you. I’ll let you sort our the folk tale from the truth because honestly, I don’t think anyone can sort it out. So, I just teach and enjoy the song as folk music.

Here’s the Yellow Rose of Texas –

The one that made the song famous:

 

Who doesn’t enjoy an Elvis Presley version of a song?

 

And a Civil War version (from what I can determine). . .

 

Blessings,
At Home.

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – T: Texas! Musical ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

T

Even when I was growing up in NM, I heard about the musical that took place each summer in Canyon, TX, titled TEXAS! It was supposed to be a really fun, outdoor experience. As someone who loves musicals, this has always appealed to me. Yet, I have never gone and not taken my girls yet!

Taking place in the lovely Palo Duro Canyon, this is a singing, dancing, theatrical production of the history of the settlers in the Panhandle of Texas. While it is fictional, it is based on the history of the folks of the area. With all styles of dance and music, costumes, and fireworks, there is something for everyone.

Taking place in an outdoor ampitheater, it features the history of the 1800s in the Texas Panhandle. It was written by Paul Green, a playwright who was brought to the area to interest him in writing it. He became interested and went right to work. The production he began in 1960 is still going strong today.

One of these days, we are going to take a trip to western Texas and the Palo Duro Canyon area so that we can view this wonderful history production with all the theatricals my girls would love.

Blessings,
At Home.

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Recital (violin) – Blogging Through the Alphabet

R Recital (violin)

A couple of weeks ago, Miss L had her spring recital with her strings class. She has been able to participate in a string class at Baylor. This class has benefitted not only our family (in that the cost is extremely reasonable, even cheap!) but it also benefits the students at Baylor who are learning to teach in classroom settings.

The recital was lovely. She and her class, as well as the two other classes, did a fantastic job. It was lots of fun and it is such a rewarding experience for her to get to show off all of her hard work this year. And it really was.

R Recital Miss L with violin

She started the year (last September) with a little bit of violin knowledge under her beltR Recital program for string project but not much. So, she began in the Bravo class with other beginners. At semester, they determined that she had made so much progress and was playing well enough to jump up a year and join the Encore class. Now that was huge and she had a big learning curve since they all had a year more experience than she did. But she undertook the challenge, practiced daily, and did really well.

The recital was the culmination of the year. We are hoping to return next year for their 3rd year class, though I can’t remember at this point what that class will be called. She still practices (almost) daily and really enjoys playing. We will encourage this for as long as she will pursue it with a heart.

At Home.R Recital

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

SING – Five Minute Friday

SING

Today’s FMF word is SING. Five minutes writing. No editing. Hosted by Kate at Heading Home.
GO –

Sing.
Sing a song.
Sing out loud.
Sing out strong.
Sing of good things, not bad.
Sing of happy, not sad.

Sing.
Sing a song.
Make it simple to last your whole life long.
Don’t worry that its not good enough for anyone else to hear.
Just sing.
Sing a song.

This song is what I would begin my kindergarten music classes with at the beginning of every year. (Did you know I used to teach K-5 music? Loved the music part – singing with the kids, playing singing games, playing instruments, musicals, choir. All the fun stuff! Making music all day long was awesome!) I wanted them to learn to just have fun and make music.

I was missing my music teaching days earlier when this song came through my Facebook feed.

Dr. Brumfield was one of my instructors at UNT where I attended to get my Master’s degree and my national Kodaly certification. She is an amazing teacher, composer, researcher, and more. This song is just one example among many of her talents and abilities. And it certainly made me miss my choir students.

END.

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