Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread - Proverbs 30:8

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How We Homeschool ~ Music

Being a violin teacher myself, it only seems natural that my girls would play a string instrument. I used to say I would never teach them violin because I wanted to be in awe of what they could do, and it's too easy to be critical when you are a violin teacher by profession. I thought maybe they should play cello since I can't but have always wanted to, but then I would have to pay someone else to do and I'd probably be critical of that person and their teaching style. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I had listened to myself because teaching them violin is NOT EASY, but most of the time I feel absolutely blessed to share this experience with them.

I've learned to take a very relaxed approach with them and it seems to be working. They aren't little prodigies, by any means, but they do a decent job, and more than anything I want them to find joy in playing and sharing music.

There is no short cut or easy way to learn to play an instrument. The best way to become fluent in music is to spend a lot of time listening to music and playing your instrument.

We aim for daily listening and practicing and in reality, we succeed 5 or 6 days a week. The days we miss are my fault - I often don't have the energy on the weekends when we are out of our school routine and doing other things. I've found that if we don't do violin early in the day, it's very hard to have a quality practice session later in the day. Right now we do violin after the "work" part of our school day, and right before lunch. The girls also have a lesson with me once a week - usually on Monday or Tuesday. We started doing this because I could easily treat each practice session as a lesson and they want me to treat them like I would my other students (whom I only see at lesson once a week).

We have a music room in our house, and this is where we keep our instruments, but for the lesson they come to my room. During the lesson, I ask them to call me Mrs. Foley (and they roll their eyes). I ask them how their practicing went that week, if their mom remembered to have them listen to their current piece...I even tell them messages to relay to their mom about what they need to practice. I give them an assignment sheet or update their practice notebook so they know exactly what they will practice each day.

I really like having our instruments out and ready to play - this way it's easy to pick it up and play.  I've always told my students that the hardest part of practicing is getting the violin out of the case. And likewise, the hardest part of listening to your current piece is pressing "play".

Included in this book: their review list, their current scale, their current technique exercise, their current piece and sightreading. Like the list of work assignments for school, this notebook helps them know exactly what needs to be done each day. When it's written out there is no arguing.

My oldest likes to practice on her own, and I let her about half of the time. She also likes to color coordinate her music marking slurs in one color, dynamics in another and so on. Again, I let her (I photo copy the music first).

So that's a peek into the musical part of our homeschooling....


  1. What a great system! I wish I had taken lessons with the piano for longer, but dance took over!

    1. I also tell my students ( and daughters) that I've never met an adult who was grateful their parents let them quit their lessons. EVERYONE says something to the affect of "I wish my parents hadn't let me quit...."