Music studies, why do them? I mean really, with all the information and experiences I am trying to expose my children to day after day, is there really time? Quite frankly I couldn’t have imagined ever being the one to say, YES!, but here I go.
Last summer, at the CMI retreat in Los Angeles, each daily session was started singing a hymn and a folk song accompanied by a piano. The first day was a bit awkward for me. I’m not what you would call musically inclined. I can’t read notes, challenged at playing a kazoo let alone an instrument made of wood or brass, and though I enjoy worship in church, my voice might be closer to “a beautiful noise unto the Lord”. However, I walked away from the experience enlightened.
First of all, music is FUN and FUN is a very important aspect of learning! Music involves self-expression and that is a valuable skill to exercise. Music is inspirational and as educators, that is one of our goals. Music has a lovely and subtle connection with history. Music adds life and depth to both cultural and biblical history and history does the same for music. Lastly, music can affect our hearts and minds, bringing peace, joy or just a proper perspective to the moment. In short, from my perspective, music is the color to an otherwise black and white day.
So, how does a music study work for the musically un-inclined teacher? I started with choosing one hymn and one folk song for each month. I researched it’s history, printed out it’s verses and found the songs on Spotify or YouTube. When I introduce the song for the first time, we read through the verses while the music plays and take notes if there are any variances in the wording. After that, we sing along with the song, finding our timing and melody with the music. One morning we go over some of the vocabulary they might not understand. Some mornings we talk about the concepts expressed in the song. Sometimes I can find a Bible verse that goes with the hymn and we discuss that. Sometimes the songs have fascinating authors or history and we learn about that. Each morning we sing one of our songs and discuss one of these aspects until the month is through and the selections are changed. It has been inspirational, encouraging, funny, thoughtful and interesting.
Will we ever discuss music theory, learn to play an instrument or hire a singing coach? We’ll see. But for now, the world of music is filling my home and our hearts as it adds a new layer of interest to our studies. I know it’s making an impact on our lives because even the dogs have taken to howling with us!