Trivium Pursuit

The Arts

I’ve really enjoyed reading your website. It is full of useful information but it is also navigable which I find many homeschool pages aren’t – thank you!! I am newly married and my husband and I would like to homeschool our future children using a classical curriculum. You say that Arts should be included in curriculum, but I wonder how you practice this? I have no background in music or art and I haven’t been able to find material to help in this. Do you have any suggestions? Kate, NJ

I think what you are asking is how do I teach my children art and music appreciation — in other words, how do I teach them to enjoy art and music. Teaching art and music appreciation doesn’t have to involve listening to dry lectures or buying an expensive curriculum. It can be as simple as listening to good music and observing good art. And when children are very young I think it also involves allowing them to experiment with art and craft tools and supplies and experimenting with musical instruments. Whatever music you and your husband commonly listen to and whatever art forms you commonly allow in your home will most likely be what your own children learn to appreciate — or learn to like. If you want them to enjoy country western music, then you would want your children exposed to that type of music on a regular basis and you would want them to see that you appreciate country western music. If you want them to enjoy and appreciate classical music, then you would have that type of music played at regular times in your home. It’s like with most everything — children generally pattern their behavior and likes and dislikes after whoever and whatever they’re around the most.

Here are just a few suggestions. And please note, my efforts at art and music appreciation are not just for the benefit of the children. It was, and is, mainly for my own benefit — the children just came along for the ride.

Music

One of our first exposures to classical music, besides just listening to the local classical music radio station, was a recording of Peter and the Wolf (1936) by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). It’s a simple piece of music with story-like narration which introduces children to the instruments and sounds of the orchestra. There have been many versions of Peter and the Wolf, with many different famous narrators.

Over the years we have purchased an array of musical instruments, not necessarily for the purpose of taking formal lesson, but often just for experimentation: autoharp, soprano, tenor, and alto recorders (both plastic and wooden), guitars (classical and steel string), flute, violin, various percussion instruments, piano, and keyboard. We didn’t start formal music lessons — in our case it was piano and classical guitar — till age eleven or older.

Art
Long ago at a garage sale I picked up a huge packet of large, cheap art prints, and I commonly would tape various prints, along with information on the artists, to the walls or door posts, changing them regularly. Twenty-five years of looking at famous art work makes for a lot of art appreciation. This week we are looking at works by Henri Fantin-Latour, Alexandre-Gabriel DeCamps, Paul Delaroche, and Edgar Degas.

2 Responses to “The Arts”

  1. Allison Says:

    I have a 4 month old. While I can imagine this advice won’t work so well with 4 rugrats under the age of 10, chances are you’ll have one child to start with, and this advice will work for the first year or so.

    I don’t know much about art, but I live in the Twin Cities. Once a week, I take my son and we go to a museum. (Usually, one day a week or month, they are free. Others are always free.) I go and I take the docent tours that are offered. My child sleeps in his stroller, or I carry him n my arms and he is FASCINATED by the art. I stay on the tour as long as he is not crying.

    and I learn about art, and learn to enjoy it. and he already enjoys the bright colors, shadows, sculptures.

    I also live near colleges, and often walk throug the quads, where there are invariably piecces of modern art. I let our son touch or bang on them, feeling the marble, listening to the steel. wen he is older, we will use these as starting points for library projects on art.

    re music: there aer some fantastic CD and podcast sets out there for learning about classical music. one great thing to do is go to your local library and read the Penguin Guide to Classical Music, which rates performances on CD/tape/LP. most libraries will allow you to check out classical music CDs. Even if you know little about music, start simply by listening and playing the ones the Penguin Guide recommends. Read the liner notes and learn from them.

    A great piece to learn from is Bejamin Britten’s A Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra. It’s a piece of music with a narration. The narration introduces you to the instruments and to themes and variations on themes. Britten was abrilliant composer who loved bringin music to children. This is a great piece for “young people of all ages” to learn about classical music.

    So you attend a church that encourages music and singing? Often the music director will have formal music training. When your children are young, just attending services with music will help teach them, but you can ask for advice from teh music director on how to supplement their education. A children’s choir is a common way.

  2. Allison Says:

    oh, and a good way to find basic music appreciation course materials (music CDs, etc.) is to get your local library to inter library loan them from universities. Universities teach music appreciation courses (usually it’s music 101, intro to music) and the tapes/cds for the course are also part of their library collections. (Courses like Kerman’s Listen books and CDs are common.) Even if you don’t want to purchase the CDs for the music 101 course, they should be available through inter library loan to you.

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