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#1 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, so I'm really not musically inclined...lots of great off-topic stories can be provided to prove my point!  So, I need help!  I'd like to build music into our children's lives, but we don't have time for music classes for the next 3-6 months.  How do you build music into your homeschooling?  I'd love all ideas, big and small! 

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#2 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 06:22 PM
 
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How old were your kids, again?

Off the top of my head - let them listen to interesting music on Youtube. Or pick a theme for the month and see what you can learn about the music from there - either a time period, or a genre, or a geographical area.

Classical, country, rock and roll era, etc.
Japanese, Mexican, Irish, African, Appalachian, etc.
Ancient music, 60's, 1920's, 80's, etc.
Or pick influential composers and listen to some of their more kid-friendly music - I know there's Mozart for kids, Beethoven, etc. Or those classical thunder types of recordings where the songs are "catchy"
Or learn the stories behind some of the operas (or musicals) and then once the kids know the story, then watch a recording of it, or clips.

Or if they're younger, you can just pick a different type of instrument to make yourself, or perhaps pick some instruments up from freecycle or the thrift store or ebay, or borrow from a friend.

You can always do things like rhythm exercises, or sing songs together (like folk songs, maybe, or hymns, or whatever might be easy to sing).

Again, just off the top of my head.

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#3 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 06:46 PM
 
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I'd suggest the "Classical Kids" recordings. You can get them on iTunes or through Amazon music downloads these days if you prefer that format to CD. They're fictional stories that inter-weave the lives of famous composers and their music. Really beautifully done, and compelling for kids especially in the 4-7 age range. Perfect for repeated enjoyable listening, and they really give you an ear for the music of the particular famous composers. We especially liked "Beethoven Lives Upstairs," "Mozart's Magnificent Voyage" and "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery."

 

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#4 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 07:57 PM
 
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One of the thoughts that I had about music years ago was that I wanted my girls to *want* to learn it. My husband grew up in a house where music lessons were required, but music wasn't being made.  So, while he enjoyed it to a point, he was never moved by it.  So, I make it a point to make music.  Mostly I sing because it's hard to tune the guitar with all the noise in the house.  I play, not well but alright, and I sing music they enjoy.  I sing them to bed.  I sing when it's snowing because it bubbles up (oh, the weather outside is frightful/ but the fire is so delightful)

 

The lyrics to the Carpenters tune I learned a a kid: Sing/ Sing a song/ sing out loud/ sing out strong..... Don't worry if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear/ just sing!/ Sing a song.

 

So, the guitar isn't quite taking root yet, but my kids are starting to sing on their own.  We'll do music lessons at home or outside the house one day as well, but for now there needs to be music and it needs to be joyful and spontaneous.  (I just noticed how unjoyful and unspontaneous that sentence sounds!)

 

So, whatever you choose to do, make a point of just making music, playing music and singing it.  Fill the house with music.


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#5 of 17 Old 12-30-2011, 03:31 AM
 
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Just to add one little thing to the mix: I bet you can learn to sing, and your kids will benefit so much from this.

 

My partner and I got into music really when my kids were small. We started singing and making music for them, really, but also because I wanted us to be a family that plays music together. Now ok I did do quite a lot of music and singing as a child-but my partner was written off as tone deaf at around age 7. He had to have remedial recorder lessons!

 

Fast forward 32 years and he can sing! He learnt by singing with and to our kids, trying to pick out tunes on the piano, and generally getting on with it and ignoring his self consciousness around singing. I'd say his pitch is actually good, and he has a nice, strong voice. You would absolutely not identify him as someone who is "tone deaf".

 

I think we are led to believe so much that music is about inherent talent, and if you are not really good, don't bother. But I think most of us can get to a point where we sing well, tunefully and unselfconsciously, and really its just about getting with with it and doing it. I feel really strongly that music education too easily becomes about training to be really good in the future, rather than playing with and enjoying music, regardless of your standard. (I think there are some great teachers out there who are not of this mindset, but unfortunately we've come across quite a few who are more focused on future excellence)

 

Can I make another suggestion, if you really think singing is beyond you? Get a ukulele. They are SO SO easy to play, honestly, much much easier than the guitar. A lot of songs, especially kids songs, can be accompanied with just 3 simple chords, and there are good youtube videos that will get you playing those chords in under a day. As well as being really fun, the uke will help you keep in tune. If you're worried about tuning the thing, I've seen tuners in guitar shops which will tell you if you are out of tune and which way to turn the pegs to get them back in tune.

 


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#6 of 17 Old 12-30-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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I'm not sure how old your kids are, but my girls loved to add their own words to songs.  It started with singing "Jenny Jenkins" in the car, and they would want to make up their own verses for other colors (silly ones like "no I won't wear turquoise 'cause I'd never get a burquoise").  "Down on Grandpa's Farm" is a fun one to add animals to.  Oh, when we get in a car we are in it for a while, and games like this can be fun (and musical and poetical to boot!)

 

"Jenny Jenkins" is on "Not for Kids Only" with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman

 

"Grandpa's Farm" was sung by Raffi on one of his many excellent albums.

 

Of course, our musical life would not be complete without dancing.  It's fun to see what the girls will love to dance to-- lots of old music or really good kids' albums.  Now and then I'll turn on an oldies station online and dance and sing while I make dinner. 

 

Silliness, as you see, is a theme in our house.  But, you know.... try being silly while you sing along with Julie Andrews.  Pull out your best "ham" and belt it out with utter goofiness.  OOOOOPERAAAAA!!  What happened?  Suddenly you can sing a lot better!  Something happens to your vocal chords when we get loose and silly, something very real.  That's your voice!

 

Tone deafness is really quite rare.  It is not singing poorly, it is literally not hearing the rise and fall in people's voices even.  And perfect pitch is not as rare as we are lead to believe.  Partly it is a matter of practice.  Doesn't mean we could all have perfect pitch if we practiced but anyway, those are the more recent findings.  Exposure, practice.

 

 


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#7 of 17 Old 12-30-2011, 08:00 PM
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Everyone has great suggestions, but I will add another.  When my kids were little (and now too), we tapped/clapped/shook rhythms.  We made shakers with rice in a can, used an oatmeal container as a drum.  We had parades, we danced!  We focused on listening to the music when we danced and going slower if the music was slower, faster if it was faster.  We acted out basic ideas (a plant growing or a storm) while listening to different classical pieces.  

 

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#8 of 17 Old 12-31-2011, 04:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

 

 

Tone deafness is really quite rare.  It is not singing poorly, it is literally not hearing the rise and fall in people's voices even.  And perfect pitch is not as rare as we are lead to believe.  Partly it is a matter of practice.  Doesn't mean we could all have perfect pitch if we practiced but anyway, those are the more recent findings.  Exposure, practice.

 

 



Yes I've heard this too. What I've also heard is that someone who is tone deaf will speak in a monotone and also be unable to pick out inflections in others' voices. Given that most languages (I think) actually use tonal variation as a part of grammar, and quite a few languages use pitch to distinguish words that otherwise would sound the same...I dunno, I do think that true tone deafness must be really rare. I truly believe that many, many people who see themselves as tone deaf probably just need some time with a piano, doing various exercises to improve their understanding of how to produce the sounds they want to hear. 

 

If II were trying to teach someone "tone deaf" to sing, I think i'd start by establishing a really solid sense of intervals up to a fifth. This is basically what they do in a Waldorf kindergarten, and its really striking that NO kids in my kids kindergarten are "tone deaf", and in fact many also sing in a little kids choir, with quite challenging reportoire, some part singing, etc. Not all these kids come from homes where even radio music is regularly played, but what all these kids have is a LOT of practice (I'd estimate that there is probably around an hour's singing happening over the course of a 4 hour morning session, most of it just incidental to other activity), a LOT of exposure to accessible music (around 70% I'd say is music with a range of no more than a fifth, and all of it is pitched so 3-7 year olds can sing comfortably-true pita for adults at times), and adults who are always only too willing to break into song ;-) .


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#9 of 17 Old 12-31-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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"Tone deafness" as used colloquially is typically used to describe an inability to pitch-match accurately with one's voice. Most children naturally pick up this skill by about age 7, but there are a few people who miss this little window of opportunity and need some direct teaching. Such people usually have the general ups and downs of pitch patterns in a song correct, so they're not actually unable to hear pitch inflections, but they aren't accurate with their own voices. When they're singing along with a song like "Take me out to the ball game," their voice goes up from "Take" to "me" by some interval that's considerably less than a the full octave it should be. That's because they haven't developed the skill of hearing when their voice matches a reference pitch. This skill can be taught quite easily in an hour or so and refined with a bit of ongoing practice.

 

For teaching pitch matching, there are some good suggestions here, and this book has a more extensive appendix on the approach. The easiest first step is to sing a random note and either record it for playback or have a friend with some musical ability sing that note. You then use this pitch as the reference pitch. (A piano is not a good place to get a reference pitch because it's not a sustained sound, and has many overtones. A pure sustained sine-wave pitch from a computer or from an electronic keyboard, even a cheap one, would be a good alternative.) Then you practice "sirening" your voice up and down until you "feel" that you are approaching the reference pitch. When you feel that the pitches start to blend, that the differences between them have largely vanished, you hold that pitch for a moment and internalize the feeling of blending. If this is a struggle, singing into a vacuum-cleaner hose held to one ear can help you hear your own voice more clearly and compare the pitches more easily. With a brief period of practice, accuracy will improve, less sirening will be required, and you can begin working on matching other pitches a little higher or lower than the original one. This usually takes just one session of work.

 

After they've developed the ability to pitch-match to aural reference pitches, such people can then extend this vocal-pitch awareness to matching reference pitches which they "hear" inside their heads, as when singing a remembered song on one's own (as opposed to singing along with a recording or with someone else).

 

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#10 of 17 Old 01-02-2012, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh my gosh you are all full of AWESOME ideas and advice.  THANK YOU!!!  I love all these ideas.  And, yes, I agree about the sing and play no matter how it sounds--because it feels good and it should be based in joy!  (My husband believes my singing has improved since we had children!).  I love the silliness ideas especially.  And the ukulele!  I also welcome the idea of learning alongside my children!  Fun!  What a great way to start the year!   Wishing you all magical, musical times ahead!  And 1000 Thank yous!

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#11 of 17 Old 01-03-2012, 12:11 AM
 
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really really interesting, thanks for that info!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

"Tone deafness" as used colloquially is typically used to describe an inability to pitch-match accurately with one's voice. Most children naturally pick up this skill by about age 7, but there are a few people who miss this little window of opportunity and need some direct teaching. Such people usually have the general ups and downs of pitch patterns in a song correct, so they're not actually unable to hear pitch inflections, but they aren't accurate with their own voices. When they're singing along with a song like "Take me out to the ball game," their voice goes up from "Take" to "me" by some interval that's considerably less than a the full octave it should be. That's because they haven't developed the skill of hearing when their voice matches a reference pitch. This skill can be taught quite easily in an hour or so and refined with a bit of ongoing practice.

 

For teaching pitch matching, there are some good suggestions here, and this book has a more extensive appendix on the approach. The easiest first step is to sing a random note and either record it for playback or have a friend with some musical ability sing that note. You then use this pitch as the reference pitch. (A piano is not a good place to get a reference pitch because it's not a sustained sound, and has many overtones. A pure sustained sine-wave pitch from a computer or from an electronic keyboard, even a cheap one, would be a good alternative.) Then you practice "sirening" your voice up and down until you "feel" that you are approaching the reference pitch. When you feel that the pitches start to blend, that the differences between them have largely vanished, you hold that pitch for a moment and internalize the feeling of blending. If this is a struggle, singing into a vacuum-cleaner hose held to one ear can help you hear your own voice more clearly and compare the pitches more easily. With a brief period of practice, accuracy will improve, less sirening will be required, and you can begin working on matching other pitches a little higher or lower than the original one. This usually takes just one session of work.

 

After they've developed the ability to pitch-match to aural reference pitches, such people can then extend this vocal-pitch awareness to matching reference pitches which they "hear" inside their heads, as when singing a remembered song on one's own (as opposed to singing along with a recording or with someone else).

 

Miranda



OP best of luck with it all let us know how it goes 


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#12 of 17 Old 01-05-2012, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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:) it's going well!  I failed to mention that I have one daughter who sings often and long throughout the day...on her own, lyrics she makes up.  Fun!  Today I was reading poems and the other twin asked to hear Auld Lang Syne without the lyrics so she could sing it.  We spent close to 45 minutes playing all kinds of Auld Lang Syne videos on YouTube.  Sometimes we sang along, sometimes we just watched (they are a bit mesmerized by moving pixels since I allow very little of that in their lives!).  Nonetheless, they both loved all the music.  Superfun.

 

We are doing a self-made "Around the World" phase of homeschooling at the moment since we have a handful of friends and relatives who seem to be following  the winds to lots of places to live.  That lends itself so nicely to cultural music...

 

Here's a challenge:   we're working on Chinese New Year/China at the moment.  Any musical insights/ideas for China? 

 

Thanks for all your enthusiasm!

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#13 of 17 Old 01-05-2012, 11:38 PM
 
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For China I might explore the pentatonic scale, as much Chinese classical music is based on this. Basically it is the same as the typical do-re-mi scale we're all familiar with but with the notes do-re-mi-so-la-(do), skipping fa and ti. The lovely thing about a pentatonic scale is that no matter which notes you play or sing together you get nice harmonies, often with a very oriental sound to them. 

 

If you can find a virtual piano keyboard online or have a toy keyboard somewhere you can play only the black notes and you'll have a lovely pentatonic sound. Here's a neat demonstration (the best part is right at the end, but it's short). It totally sounds oriental! Have your kids improvise their own Chinese New Year Dragon Song on a piano's black notes.

 

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#14 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 05:43 AM
 
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I don't want to hijack, but I'm finding this whole conversation about tone deafness fascinating. My partner is tone deaf, and I always suspected that it had to do with his hearing loss, but I'm definitely planning on showing him the links provided in this thread. Thanks so much.

 

OP: I'm reading a book called All Together Singing in the Kitchen, which might be a great book for inspiration about how to add more music to your life. Reading the book inspired me to pick up my banjo again and start playing to my kids, even though I'm god awful horrible!


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#15 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 07:51 AM
 
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Pentatonic becomes familiar when you realize how many songs from our own culture are in a pentatonic scale as well.  Waldorf teaches its music on a small harp and I've played homemade flutes in this scale (when I was doing the hippie thing years ago and busking).  Fun to play with, you practically can't make anything sound bad!


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#16 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 08:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Pentatonic becomes familiar when you realize how many songs from our own culture are in a pentatonic scale as well.  Waldorf teaches its music on a small harp and I've played homemade flutes in this scale (when I was doing the hippie thing years ago and busking).  Fun to play with, you practically can't make anything sound bad!



Yup ... O, Susanna! and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot spring to mind. 

 

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#17 of 17 Old 01-07-2012, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You are all so motivating!  And, hijack away!  I love the discussion (and I'm certain my brother/sister/husband/mother have described me as tone deaf, so I find it interesting and motivating to read this all too).  Thanks for the Chinese song idea and the Singing in the Kitchen book!

 

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