I aspire to bring more live music back into the home. Strategically this means bringing music to our kids. Here are four ways that has happened in the Hall house.
Singing belongs to you. Some people are knock-out singers, but everybody is meant to sing. I hear about homeschooling penny pinchers who can easily get music literature, history, and theory in their house but, unless the parents are musicians, can't afford actual music lessons. Well, singing makes you an instant practitioner of music. Certainly there's proper technique to it that's not intuitive - but go ahead. Start with the songs you know and like. Start when your kids are young so they don't learn to become embarrassed. Maybe learn some rounds to sing in the car, such as "Scotland's Burning."
Speaking of Scotland, these guys are cool.
But they're not singing a round. Here's another one.
This summer a few of my friends got together to form a casual summer a cappella group. We were lucky a trained vocalist could help us find our parts. We learned a two-part arrangement of "Down to the River to Pray," practicing on our own and coming together in a mom's house with kids milling about to bring it all together. It was fun, and we're hungry to tackle something for Christmas now. GENE PUERLING CHRISTMAS ARRANGEMENTS, WHERE ARE YOU?
2. Classics for Kids Podcast
Each episode in this podcast is six minutes long, winsomely narrated by Naomi Lewin at WGUC in Cincinnati. Naomi introduces names, places, musical forms, biographical anecdotes, and humorous facts, all interspersed with samples from the composers' well known works. Though meant for kids, it's a serious introduction to music literature that will inform everyone. Subscribe!
3. The Piano Safari method
Many piano methods for young children emphasize how to read piano music. Piano Safari focuses on how to play the piano. Not at all neglecting, however, to lay a foundation for reading. By the end of the series kids are reading the grand staff, improvising, playing chords and scales, understanding some chord relationships, and playing folk and classical pieces with deliberate technique. A good teacher can convey these things no matter the method, but Piano Safari brings it all together. The website is a pedagogical hub of resources for teaching concepts as well as supplements for students sticking with a different method.
Routine is magic. If each day has a routine with music practice tucked in the same place, practice happens. For the resident student in this house, piano practice is the last school subject before free play. No reminder needed. And, a little bit of practice every day goes much farther than a lot every now and then. I never cease to wonder at the miracle of incrementalism. No matter how tangled the notes look or how awkward the fingering feels at first, the minuscule gains each day seem suddenly to resolve in a creditable performance.
This carries over to creative work, too. A little bit of regular time devoted to writing music yields results. As I saw songwriter Jon Guerra put it, "Regularity is the mother of spontaneity."