As a musical mom, I’ve loved including various aspects of music learning in our family! This post shares with you my recommended links to places where I have found some of the best music resources for teaching at home!
Here is a list of what I would consider my top recommendations to anyone looking for helpful resources in teaching music at home to their children/teens:
Sonja is a professional musician and mother from British Columbia who designs music curriculum. Our family is currently going through her “Prelude” study and it is EXCELLENT! Each lesson has activities, brief readings, story list, and Sonja’s curated and linked list of musical selections to demonstrate the lesson focus. She also has a separate program of listening to songs (“A Song a Day”); again, with a curated list of links. Here is her website:
My Homegrown Symphony – Music Curriculum for Children (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link.)
Music History (general):
Sonja also has a composer curriculum and currently, you can receive a lesson about J.S. Bach free when you sign up for her newsletter here: Music Education – My Homegrown Symphony (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link.)
Another good and music history curriculum: “Meet the Great Composers” (a book series of reproducibles plus CDs) by June Montgomery and Maurice Hinson, Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.
Of course, once you know the names or keywords, you can also search online for various video-based supplements to go along with a particular section of history or musical piece or music biography. Two of the places which have videos related to music are: Free School – YouTube (e.g. Beethoven, Mozart) and Shop | Christian History Institute (“Music and Worship” category) (Again, these are all non-affiliate links.)
Hymnody (history, lyrics, styles):
One of the interesting elective courses I took while studying for my science degree years ago was a history course for Christian Hymnody. The textbook is like a reference book to me and is entitled: “A Survey of Christian Hymnody” by William J. Reynolds and Milburn Price, Hope Publishing Company, Illinois, USA, 1987. (There are similar types of textbooks around in online searches too.)
There is a comprehensive website written by a Canadian who was keenly interested in history and taught about music in churches and Bible schools, to pre-teens, teens, and adults. There is much on that website which can help anyone in this topic of study including this link: Hymn Index | Wordwise Hymns (again, not an affiliate link).
Happy Hymnody (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link) is a website and simple-to-use program of teaching and singing hymns (new and modern) within your family! Our family already sings together and we’ve not been part of this particular program. However, if you are wanting to get started with singing praises to God together as a family, the “Happy Hymnody” website would be an excellent one to check out! (Even the playlists on their channel look very well arranged for both variety and historical interest.)
Biblical Standards for Music (apologetics):
Face the Music by Lenny Seidel, former professor of music at Cedarville College (now Cedarville University), gifted pianist and speaker. This link goes to our ministry website which has two audio seminars of Mr. Seidel given at a family camp in Ontario. (These are free to listen to.)
The Study of Music by Frank Garlock, Founder and President of Majesty Music, former professor at Bob Jones University. This is a free online audio course (6-parts) available through BBN Radio. (BBN Radio offers other free Bible courses as well, for teens and adults.) (Note: This is not an affiliate link.)
“Music Play Themes and Variations” is a Canadian website which offers some theory resources for children, for example: “Know Your Note Names“. (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link.)
“Brick-and-mortar” music stores also often carry music theory books and flashcards.
Of course, you can sometimes find inexpensive (or maybe even free) musical instruments in a local region. But you might instead like to RENT an instrument to try out before making more of a commitment to learn a particular one. A number of years ago, we had to be in the city to see my OB (because our baby was to be born in the city) and stopped in at the music store on one of our trips. It was there that we found out that Long and McQuade (this is not an affiliate link) rents instruments for a very reasonable price! So, for our older children who were very interested, we rented a trumpet and a clarinet for the last couple months of my pregnancy and then simply returned the instruments to the store when the baby was born! (This chain of stores across much of Canada still offers this service.)
Online Piano Lessons:
(along with some theory, ear and sight training): Hoffman Music Academy (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link.) – Hoffman Music Academy is an online, self-paced music program. After searching for something that looked both fun and skillful (to more than just a basic skill level), this is my current “top pick” if a family is unable to do piano lessons in-person with a teacher. The cost is inexpensive and the appealing teaching methodology incorporates the idea of having a variety of teaching methods, for example, printables/writing, auditory/ear, hand-signs and actions, cute online teaching games, piano playing (of course), and even finger puppets!
“How do I fit it all in?”
Music is also not just a “school subject” for us to add to our “schedule”. It is an expression of our lives whether or not we are “students”. Thus music does not always need to be “scheduled” into a “school day”. Many times, music is just simply a part of our lives, just like eating meals together, cleaning a house together, or taking time to go somewhere together. I personally do not put “music studies” into a full-year week’s schedule (other than practicing for weekly piano lessons or similar). Topics such as theory or history or appreciation of styles are better thought of as occasional unit studies which take up perhaps a few weeks when we do music history instead of regular history or add some theory into the day because we have time to add it.
Our family likes to sing as part of our family Bible time in the mornings or evenings. We also like to sing together (and sometimes record) on Sunday afternoons since we tend to use this time for ministry preparation or extra Bible studies. (Update: You can hear them singing here.)
A bit of my background, for perspective…
I play multiple instruments “by ear” and/or by sight, beginning with the piano/organ when I was a toddler/preschooler. During my childhood/teens, I enjoyed taking conservatory/classical piano lessons from a very well-educated-and-loved teacher and joining the school band with flute. I also occasionally travelled in music ministry, often with my family, to some churches and senior’s homes, and professionally recorded a solo piano cassette (in our online shop) as a young adult.
It’s very true that I’ve sometimes simply created my own lessons for music (for our own family). I love playing/singing/encouraging/listening to music however, I find some aspects of TEACHING music to multi-levels challenging and so I also very much appreciate what others have done in this area to make it easier for me to include more understanding of music!
Rob and I have eight children who like to sing together at home and in church; four of those have completed their piano conservatory exams at a grade 6 or 8 level with teachers providing in-person or online individual lessons. At times over the years, it has been difficult to have in-person lessons with a music teacher for any or all of them; yet we believe strongly that their musical education remains very important!🎵