If your child listens to Justin Bieber, you have failed as a parent.
I would rather my child grow up to be an Al Qaeda terrorist than listen to bad music. Inculcating your child with good taste in music isn’t hard but it does require a concerted effort by the parent. With a little thought, planning and adherence to a few strict guidelines you will be successful.
Perhaps the first hurdle you will encounter is the nefarious and frankly evil Barney. This is the first commandment of homeschooling music. Thou shall not listen to any Barney. I did allow Sesame Street’s favorite songs into the house. What was the difference, you ask? The children on Barney are schmarmy and are coached to act all nice and crap. The kids on Sesame Street are allowed to act natural and pick their nose if they want. This is important as the first lesson we need to teach our kids about music is that it should be real and natural, not contrived and manipulated by some corporation for profit.
The second thing to consider is sadly, your own taste in music. We all have some musical skeletons in our closet. That’s okay, but we should not expose our children to these musically bad decisions. Instead, make a deliberate effort to play good music around the house. Actually, let’s start by just playing music around the house. Kill your TV and turn the stereo on. Every day in our house we find time for just listening to music. Usually while dinner is being cooked seems to be the time in our house when the tunes are jamming.
So what constitutes good music? As an old time musician (read banjo and blues guitarist) I certainly am biased toward Roots music. There is a lot to be said for this position, though, as it is obviously the foundation of whatever genre you happen to like. Classical music is of course great; however, I would highly suggest all you mommies get off the idea that Mozart makes your child a genius and expand your repertoire to include at least some Bach. I would also encourage homeschoolers to take a closer look at orchestral music. Teach the sections of the orchestra, the periods of classical music (Renaissance, Classical, Baroque, Early and Late Romantic) and listen to examples of each. Have listening quizzes – KIDS LOVE THESE – where they have to identify specific instruments or periods of music by just listening.
Teach the foundations of American Music. Expose your children to the Blues. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King. At some point in your homeschooling experience, you will have to explain that “peculiar institution” known as slavery, and when you do you should talk about work songs and how they spawn the blues, gospel, and eventually Jazz. Pay equal attention to the roots of Country music. Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Hank Williams Sr. get a lot of rotation in our household.
Make sure your children are exposed to the Funk just for fun. My five-year-old loves Parliament, Bootsy Collins and James Brown. It gets us all up and moving! I’m sure we all look like we belong in the crazy house when we are getting the Funk on, but we have incredible fun getting down to old school Funk music.
If left to their own devices, children will make bad decisions. The reason children listen to Justin Bieber and similar ilk is that they have been left unattended in front of Nickelodeon too long. Brainwash your children before the television does and you will have done them a great service.
Kerrie says: Thanks to Stephen Schmidt for today's guest post on homeschool music. I agree on the Barney point, but have to admit we listen to a lot of pop around the house ... it makes me happy :-) ... I need to get into a lot of other stuff, though. Check out Schmidty in action.