30 Days of Homeschool: Day 25 – Music Education

(30 posts about free resources for homeschooling)

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” Martin Luther

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” Ludwig van Beethoven

So you want your child to know more about music, and even play an instrument, but you’re stuck because you don’t have the wherewithal to get a tuba, or join a community band, or you don’t want to be on all of those band trips, etc. I hope the resources below will help. There’s nothing here to give you a free instrument, but there are resources that can help in your practice and study of them.

As you consider how to approach educating your child musically, remember that your child doesn’t have to be a guitar hero or oboe master to enjoy or play music. One of the drawbacks to many school programs is their myopic insistence on the instruments offered (I know it depends on the wishes of those funding). While I enjoyed playing all of the percussion instruments (drum set, tympani, bass drum, xylophone, marimba, etc.) throughout school, the reality is that the instruments that have offered me the most enjoyment and opportunities to play, because of their portability and usefulness, throughout my post-school years have been the bodhran, congas, and smaller things like tambourines and shakers. These instruments aren’t free, but I’d like to have had classes on Celtic and Latin music so that I could have discovered the simplicity of making music earlier on in life.

For a student to love and play music, he doesn’t need fancy and big gear. A simple acoustic guitar can be bought for ca. $50; a tin whistle, ca $5-$10; bongos, $50; bodhran, ca. $50; ocarina, ca. $15; ukulele, ca. $40. You may even be able to buy her one cheaper via craigslist or ebay. Here’s how you can make a PVC flute! http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-Simple-PVC-Flutes/?ALLSTEPS We made some of these last year, albeit without the fancy tools and with imprecise measurements, but they were fun and the kids learned quickly whether they liked trying to play the flute or not!

There can be a snobbery among musicians (and this really goes for EVERY single profession) that one must pick the best, or needs the top, or do their level-best to be the best; because, hey, you want to be the best, right? If one wants to be the best, or compete to win one of the top 3 prizes, the competition is fierce. But if you want to be able to simply sing, just know more about music, provide some fun at your family gatherings, or help others enjoy the picnic – then you probably don’t need to strive to be the best – you just simply need to carry and play a few tunes.

Here are some free resources to help your child enjoy music:

MIT OpenCourseware: Music and Theater Arts http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/music-and-theater-arts/
MIT broke new ground years ago by making their course material free online (courses, not credits! J ), and music is included. Geared toward the older students, and including theater, this is a great place for more in-depth study of music.

SmartPhone apps – just search for pitch or chromatic tuner for this one. We needed an app for our harp and guitar that would tell us if we were on pitch; we needed something that went beyond just playing the note and trying to match it with our tuning. Enter the iPhone app called Pitch. With this we’re able to work with the tuning and the graphic shows how far we are above or below the proper note. Unfortunately, since the time that we downloaded it for free it has become a paid-app. So that’s why I prefaced this with searching – this app has worked great for us, so I haven’t needed to search for and try a different one. There’s likely to be another good one out there. Keep your eye out for freebies and new arrivals that are free for a limited time.

Great for free lessons! Just search away.

Berklee Shareshttp://www.berkleeshares.com/
The famous Berklee College of Music has a site dedicated to free music lessons. Enjoy!

This is a metronome iPhone app that’s great for any musician. The free version is good, but limited (to be expected, of course). The paid version is TERRIFIC! But just the free version will get you on time. As a musician, I’d say that a metronome is essential. As a home educator, I’d say it isn’t required – imperfect human timing is more important when simply learning to play and appreciate music. As a percussionist, I both love and am annoyed by them.

Music Theory.nethttp://www.musictheory.net/
A great site – clean and well put-together. They have a good lesson layout, and the site tools include the ability to print staff paper and a tempo tapper. I’ll end up using that tempo tapper a lot!

National Association for Music Education – http://www.nafme.org/
This gets a mention because it shows how to start a ukulele program at school! Many national ed sites are really rather boring and tedious (written for and designed by administrators and techies, really not intended for public consumption). This focuses on educators, which is you, so you may find useful information here.

Classics for Kidshttp://www.classicsforkids.com/index.asp
This is designed for kids. It has short (ca. 6 mts.) podcasts about famous composers, a section of games, and basics of music. A good site for beginners, or for music appreciation.

Royalty Free Music – Ball State University – http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/libraries/collectionsanddept/copyright/freemusicresources
This site has a list of free music for listening and downloading. From this you could listen to music online or download and make a CD for your class.

If you’re looking for something to record music – maybe you want to get your children to record their singing, and then play with effects – then Audacity is a good tool for you. It’s a free audio recorder and editor PC, and has lots of features for multi-tracks.

Voice Record Prohttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voice-record-pro/id546983235?mt=8
Despite the name, this app is free (you need to pay $2.99 to remove the ads). We’ve used it (the free version) to record music for the videos that our son makes. Use it to record your singing or music playing. Not much in the way of effects, but 1) it gives a good clear recording, and 2) you can save it or upload your music to Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, Box, and Amazon S3. Plus you have many audio options (e.g., Bit Rate, and Mono or Stereo). You can record in MP4, MP3, or WAV.

Happy Homeschooling!

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