Monday, November 12, 2012

Breaking It Down- Music

Music is also divided into skills and appreciation.

Appreciation can be worked into History by listening to tapes or CDs of songs composed in the era you are studying (Check the library, and of course, the internet again. Wikipedia usually has links to audio files in their articles of each musician, and Easy Peasy covers this for free also .) Or you could study music by region, listening to files from each different culture. You could pick one hour or half an hour per week to listen to a different type of music than you do just for entertainment (lunch time? Friday afternoon clean up?).

Teach your children to sing. I know that sounds like a tall order. It isn’t really. 

Put on music you are familiar with and make your voices sound like the voices in the music. Than try to sound like the different instruments. 

“OK everyone, now make the electric guitar sound! Mowrworwworwoo!” This is very informal training, but it IS training them in how to control their voices. 

If you have a keyboard of some sort available, (check Wal-mart. My mom found one for $20. Not the best sounding one in the world, but good enough) practice hitting one note at a time and trying to sound like it. Or check the internet for a virtual piano keyboard site or app.

Most of all, teach them to enjoy singing. Everyone can sing. Maybe not like an Opera Star, but we can all “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

The best computer music program I have ever found is Music Ace Deluxe, a computer program. It teaches all the skills I am about to mention with a little cartoon professor, classical music, and animated notes (little kids think they are cute, teens think they are creepy!) It is VERY good!

I am currently using Step by Step piano books for my kids, which just happens to be the program I was taught with umpteen years ago. Simple and enjoyable.

Youtube has many music teachers on an infinite number of instruments, also. 

Teach your children to keep the beat. This is pretty easy, also. March, clap, and dance. You will all get the hang of keeping a steady rhythm. Count to three or four with the music over and over; (Some songs need one, some the other. With a little practice you can hear the difference). “The Beat” is essential to all music (is really what music is), so get this down and you have accomplished a lot.
Music reading is simple and if your child can read music they can teach themselves to play just about anything. 

(I have, in the print book, a detailed instruction of how to read music. However, it is cumbersome at best, and my illustrations didn't transfer onto here well. 

But this is 2016! So here is a random Youtube video (picked in about 5 minutes of looking,) that teaches the same thing in a much easier format. Some day I may do my own video, but until then, Enjoy.)

Now, the piano or electronic keyboard is the easiest instrument to understand theory with. They are, in fact, music theory in three dimensions. 

The best resource for teaching piano is a good quality piano teacher, but youtube has a lot of teachers and there are programs and apps available. Experiment, play around, check out Cathy Duffey and Easy Peasy. 
On a piano, your right hand plays the keys to the right of the C in the middle of the board, which are the notes in the Treble, or top clef in your music, and your left hand plays the ones to the left, which are on the bottom or bass clef.

This is, of course just the beginning of music theory, but it is all you need to get started. With a little practice you could now play any child’s song and even some simple hymns (Check your library or the internet for music!)

I like to start my children with the piano. A good piano sounds like a good piano even if it is a two year old at the keyboard. Some other instruments don’t sound right until you have had practice forming your lips or hands correctly. This can be discouraging to a beginner.

If a keyboard of some type is out of your reach, you can start with a recorder (German flute). They are very cheap and often come with instruction books. Wal-mart occasionally carries them; however, the ones I have used from Wal-mart were, well, cheapy. They sounded horrible even in my semi-experienced hands. A professional could not have made them sound good. This may have just been my bad luck, but it would be worth it to get a little more expensive of an instrument ($5 instead of $1) from a music store or Amazon than to discourage your beginners.
Another good instrument to start on is a zither, also called a lap harp or Music Maker. It comes with its own music that you put under the strings. You just pluck the strings where the notes are, following the order on the paper and you have a song. Uhh, ok, it is a whole lot easier than it sounds. Trust me.

Musical instruments like foreign languages, get easier the more you learn them. Your second instrument will be easier than the first; your third will be easier than the second, and so on; mostly because the more you learn to play, the more you understand theory.

The enjoyment alone is worth learning to play, but music is a “language” of logic. It is good for the brain as well as being fun. It is a way to communicate God to other people, and of course God loves to hear us play in worship to Him.

  • Learn to keep the beat in all kinds of music (clap, march and dance).
  • Learn to sound like the music.
  • Learn to read music.
  • Figure out which notes correspond with which finger positions on your instrument.
  • Practice.

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