Something else we’re trying to incorporate into our learning is music and composer study. First up for composers is George Gershwin. No, he’s probably not high on your list like, I don’t know, Beethoven, but I’m not interested in exposing my children to only classical music. I mean, my husband’s a musician. When we made tapes to listen to during labor, we had everything from Annie Lenox to Gregorian chants to Phil Keaggy to (of course)Rich Mullins. I think children need exposure to many different types of music, just like veggies. How do you know if they’ll like it if they never hear it?
Music or composer study is not a very formal study. It’s a very casual thing. I’m purposefully having a free art time–one not directed by me. I pulled out the water colors and put on Rhapsody in Blue in the background. This week I’m going to try An American in Paris. I may even show them a clip of the movie, if I can find one free on YouTube. You can find lists of composers and even specific pieces to listen to on Ambleside or Simply Charlotte Mason. They also offer suggestions for biographies for many of the composers, if you choose to go further. This year I’ve chosen to study Gershwin, Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Chopin, one per term. You can find free downloads of music on the internet, but please, make sure they’re legal sources. Musicians have to buy home school supplies for their families too and they can’t if we steal their life work :).
In addition to this, we’re adding hymn study. It’s just added to our family worship time in the evenings that Jonathan leads. A couple of excellent resources are My First Hymnal and 101 Hymn Stories. My First Hymnal by Karen Henley and illustrated by Dennas Davis–the duo that brought you the (as my children call it) the googly-eyed Bible. Karen very simply explains the meaning of the hymn, or even just one concept in the hymn that make it easier for younger children to understand. It’s out of print, but you can probably get one on eBay. For older children, 101 Hymn Stories shares the stories behind the song. For the year, we’re going to try to learn the first verse of All the Way my Savior Leads Me, Immortal Invisible, Blessed Assurance, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, and Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us. During Advent we’ll work on traditional Christmas hymns.
Even if you’re not 100% Charlotte Mason in your educational approach (no stones thrown by me, I’m not either!), her method of composer study (and artist study for that matter) makes it so simple to expose your children to beautiful art and music. Give it a try and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions!