One of the questions many of my friends wonder as they look at the way we spend our time is why we put so much emphasis as a family on music. The kids spend hours practicing every day. We spend hours driving to and from lessons, participating in group events and competitions. We spend a large portion of our income on lessons and music-related events and books. We frequent the symphony and other concerts. We talk about music and listen to music all the time. Why put so much time and effort into just one subject?
There are a huge variety of answers to this question, but they all boil down to two important things: value and enjoyment. Music has great value to us. It is a subject that requires concentration, coordination and talent to succeed. As my children practice, they build character skills such as patience and self control. They build small and large muscle coordination, and hand eye coordination. They learn to listen. They begin to appreciate beauty.
As they grow older and become more accomplished on their instruments, they do reap more enjoyment. But even the six-year old who is just beginning finds real joy in making good sounds come from the piano. In fact, as I write this, he is enjoying himself at his piano practicing. They begin sitting down to play just for their own enjoyment, and some of the best times at our home are when Grandma and Grandpa come over for a concert.
We stopped having practice wars several years ago with the two oldest, but occasionally one of the younger ones will protest that they “hate the piano!” Lucy never says she hates violin, only piano, and perhaps someday she will be able to concentrate only on the violin. Until then, it is up to me never to give in, but to keep requiring her daily practice. After all, if she does not practice, she will never enjoy her music.
An important path to enjoyment of practicing and music is listening to other musicians. We are not able to dream of being something we have never seen or imagined. When the kids see the musicians at the symphony, or at a local fiddlefest or jazz concert, they are able to project themselves into an adult life where music plays an important role. In fact, the two oldest are considering pursuing careers in music. Of course, not everyone who enjoys music has to be a concert performer, and in fact most are not. But wouldn’t it be a fulfilling life to be able to teach what you love? If they do truly love music, this is a good choice for them. Many adults wish they had learned “when they were younger” to play an instrument. Luckily, my kids won’t have to wish this!
Do you think music is an important subject for homeschoolers? As an adult, do you continue to enjoy listening to and playing music? Please leave me a comment.