Our friend, Carol McBride, recently shared her passion with us at a homeschool moms meeting. We asked if we might also share her musical encouragement with our Habits for a Happy Home readers. You’ll be thankful she did. Be sure to pin this post, bookmark it. Bringing music into your homeschool is a resource for always! Thank you so much Carol!
Music has always been something I enjoyed – listening to it, dancing to it, but especially making it. So I knew it was something I wanted to include in the lives of my children, from the time they were in the womb. In my own search for how to incorporate music into our lives as my children have grown, God has been revealing to me what a beautiful gift He created for us in music.
Researchers have long been saying how beneficial music is for infants… some going so far as to say you should play music for babies before they’re even born. They point to evidence that certain kinds of music enhance brain development, helping to make those connections between left and right hemispheres. And psychiatrists also know that musical memories are typically the last to go in anyone who suffers dementia or other memory loss – particularly the memories of songs learned in early childhood. Think about it… can’t you still sing the songs your mom or dad sung to you as lullabies or preschool favorites? I can. Some people who lose the ability to speak, can still sing or play music. I want my children’s lasting memories to be of wholesome, Godly character, so that’s the kind of songs I try to surround them with.
Bringing Music Into Your Homeschool
Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich, in her book Music Education in the Christian Home, titles her first chapter, “Music Education is Not Optional for God’s Children.” If I were to suggest only one resource for why to bring music into your home, this would be it. She fills her book with scripture that describes how God calls us to worship Him with music! It’s not an accident that we have a whole book of songs in the middle of our Bible. But it’s also filled with music throughout the stories that are told. If you start to pay attention, I think you’ll be amazed at how many references there are to singing and making music.
The author says, “Scripture clearly teaches that an intimate relationship with God is rooted in making music. It is as much a sign of spiritual health today as it was in Biblical times. If we deprive our children of learning to make music, we are depriving them of a key tool in maintaining a solid relationship with God. Would we expect children to develop a relationship with God throughout a lifetime without giving them a Bible? It is just as serious to deny them the gift and skill of music making. Music is the one gift that God gives to us that we can return to Him and is the essence of a relationship in action.”
Robin Wolaver of the Annie Moses Band also taught me that God created us to sing praise to Him… He went so far as to release endorphins and other hormones when we sing. The same hormones, by the way, that are released when a mother breastfeeds. Singing makes you feel good – relaxed, content and joyful! When you don’t worry about if you’re hitting the right notes, but just enjoying the words and the tune… doesn’t it? Worship leaders use the power of music to engage us and bring an emotional response.
The book also points out that, “There is a critical difference between music making unto the Lord and secular lessons and activities pursued to find the child’s special niche. The secular activity is for the child, for his development, while music making is for God and His glory and purpose.”
Music making is not another activity like baseball or gymnastics or scouts, or even an academic subject like math and history. The world right now tells us we have many options of how to use our gifts, and we do… but there is one that we are all called to do, regardless of how well we think we can carry a tune or blow a horn or tap a beat. That is another trap that our worldliness has instilled, rooted in pride. We think that musical skill has something to do with talent. Yes, it is a gift from God and it comes more naturally and easier for some than others. Those with good hand-eye coordination may have an easier time on piano and percussion, those with beautiful voice quality will enjoy singing, some with strong lungs can easily master difficult wind or brass instruments. But the problem starts when we limit music education to those who find it easy. This is kind of like limiting Bible study to brilliant Greek and Hebrew scholars or prayer to eloquent speakers.
Music making unto God is inclusive of all believers. The ministry of music begins with education to equip God’s people with tools. And it’s our responsibility as parents to be sure we equip our children appropriately. If you have also been denied the gift of music, I want to encourage you that it’s never too late! You can still receive it yourself and discover God’s treasures that are found there. I just recently started taking piano lessons myself from my daughter’s teacher… and I love it!
Five Purposes of Music are Spelled Out in the Bible, according to this Dr. Froehlich:
1. Music is a tool for corporate worship and obedience.
2. Music is a tool for developing a personal relationship with God.
3. Music is a tool for supporting one another.
4. Music is a tool for victory, our weapon against the enemy.
5. Music is a tool for instruction and personal witness.
She goes into detail describing how each of these purposes is displayed in scripture, and I encourage you to read and explore those yourself.
Music Ministry Begins with Music Education
Music ministry begins with music education. Biblical music making was skillful. Singing, playing instruments, movement and composing are complex skills that require training. Music education and ministry is not pageantry or performance, although those can be wonderful by-products. The church and home used to be primary centers of music education, up until the 1800’s. As it became more established in schools, church and home slowly abdicated that responsibility. Of course, now many schools are cutting back, especially in music and other fine arts. So you are tasked with bringing music into your homeschool.
There are many resources for bringing music into your homeschool: books, classes, methods, organizations. Listening to high quality music is at the core of any music education program. You have to experience it with your God-given senses. It is an art that you hear and must be learned that way. Expose your children to a variety of music styles and composers. A well-rounded musician will have mastered many skills, not just one instrument… voice training, music theory, sight-reading, improvisation, and even composing are all necessary elements of excellent musicianship.
One of my favorite parts about the Fine Arts Summer Academy we attend in Nashville each summer is that the mission of the Wolaver family who puts it on is to inspire parents to bring up the next generation of young people who will impact our culture through music. If you think about it, popular music has a huge influence on culture and yet, probably 99% of it is not glorifying to God. The Wolavers, who also perform as the Annie Moses Band, have helped me to change my perception that a career in music is meant only for the exceptional, competitive musician who probably will struggle to earn a living. Instead, music can be a righteous calling to impact lives for Christ – to praise His name and make His name known. And even if my children or yours don’t end up pursuing a musical career, by including music in our homeschools, we are teaching them to obey the commands found throughout the Bible to worship and obey God through the incredible gift He gave us of music.
Scripture for Bringing Music into Your Homeschool
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 1 Chronicles 16:23-24.
And all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound. 1 Kings 1:40
Come, let us praise Yahweh joyfully,
Acclaiming the Rock of our safety; let us
Come into his presence with thanksgiving,
Acclaiming him with music.
As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:22
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. Revelation 14:2-3
Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps? Genesis 31:27
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalms 33:1-3
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
Sing, all you who are upright in heart! Psalm 32:11
He has put a new song in my mouth
A song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a
You have turned my mourning into dancing,
You have stripped off my sackcloth and wrapped me in gladness;
And now my heart, silent no longer, will play you music;
Yahweh, my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12
But I for my part rely on your love, Yahweh;
Let my heart rejoice in your saving help.
Let me sing to Yahweh for the goodness he has shown me. Psalm 13:5
In the daytime may Yahweh command his love to come,
And by night may his song be on my lips, a prayer to the God of my life! Psalm 42:8
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15
I promise I will thank you on the lyre, my ever-faithful God,
I will play the harp in your honor, Holy One of Israel,
My lips shall sing for joy as I play to you,
and this soul of mine which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:22-23
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Isaiah 12:5
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Psalm 105:2
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. Psalm 119:172
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
The men did the work faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites – all who were skilled in playing musical instruments. 2 Chronicles 34:12
Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. 1 Chronicles 15:22
So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps. 1 Chronicles 15:28
My song is about kindness and justice; Yahweh, I sing it to you. Psalm 101:1
God rises to shouts of acclamation,
Yahweh rises to a blast of trumpets,
Let the music sound for our God, let it sound,
Let the music sound for our King, let it sound!
God is King of the whole world: play your best in his honor!
When people groan under the weight of oppression, or cry out under the tyranny of the mighty, no one thinks to ask, “Where is God, my maker, who makes glad songs ring out at dead of night?” Job 35:9-10
Sing for joy. O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all you trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel. Isaiah 44:23
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst forth into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD for he comes to judge the earth. 1 Chronicles 16:33
The birds of the air nest by waters; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12
Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge. Psalm 119:54
David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, with lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets. 1 Chronicles 13:8
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
My Resources for Bringing Music into your Homeschool
- Music Education in a Christian Home by Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich – Biblical support for teaching music in the home; includes some methodology.
- Sound Choices: Guiding your Child’s Musical Experiences by Wilma Machover and Marienne Uszler – Chapters on choices at certain ages; choosing instrument and teacher; gifted and special needs children; also includes listening guide
- Teaching Children Music by Grant Newman – Includes lots of music theory, songs to move to, sing, play, and listen to.
- Alfred’s Complete Essentials of Music Theory – A workbook and cd that also includes ear training exercises.
- Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People by Ed Roseman – Goes beyond the basics for those who want to arrange, write, and play around with music on their own.
- The Composer: Perspectives in Music for Christian Schools by BJU Press (I bought the Teacher guide, Student book and cd’s) – Curriculum can be covered in 6 months – 4 years includes fundamentals, sight-reading, dictation, composing and performing. (Note: this seems to be out of print)
- DK Great Musicians book w/cd – Beginner’s overview of some music history and musicians from Bach to the Beatles.
- A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers by Melissa E. Craig and Maggie S. Hogan – 32 lessons covering music composers from the ancient and middle ages through Gershwin and Joplin. Each has 3-4 pages of text with some review questions.
- How to Listen to Great Music by Robert Greenberg – We have the both book and the Teaching Courses DVD set. Greenberg is a professor of music history and presents an entertaining journey through the history of western orchestral music, focusing on how its historical context has influenced the evolution of music from 1600-1900.
Carol McBride is a wife, mom and a home educator. She is grateful to God for His tender mercies as she tries to fulfill those roles as He intends. What a blessing to be able to see an answered prayer for a more close knit family who follows the Lord through homeschooling. Music has become an integral part of their journey as they seek to worship and obey our living God.
-originally published January 2013