Monday, August 29, 2011

Schooling the Senses: Hearing

While in high school I remember our US History teacher, Pastor Ferguson, turning music on during testing or just when ever we were working on our class work. I still remember listening to the soundtrack for the movie Gettysburg while studying US History. I knew when I grew older that was one CD (I feel old LOL) I wanted to own.

A few years later, Trent and I lived close to many of those Civil War battlefields I had studied about while listening to that soundtrack. As we drove the roads through these National Military Parks, we would often find this on our ipod and listen to it through the drive. Driving through these parks can be a moving experience in itself, but add the music and you can sense the emotions these men were grappling with.

Nothing made this more clear then the first time I experienced driving through Antiteam National Battlefield for their annual Memorial Illumination. The first Saturday night of December, you can drive down those roads, made hallowed by the blood of men who gave their lives for what they believed to be right. There is 23,110 luminaries placed along the drive, one for each person who gave up their life. We played this music and the emotions that took place with in me....I can't begin to explain.  If you can be in MD at this time of year, it is one of those things you must do in your lifetime.

Music can do this to you. It can calm and soothe. It can transport. It can challenge you.

Maybe you have heard of the Mozart effect or just the thought that the complexity of classical music can make you smarter. I am not a researcher so I have no definitive answer to this, but I do know that I get more done with music on. I retain what I read better when I listen to the classics (and I mean Bach and Beethoven, not the Beach Boys and Beatles).

We know that children learn better when more senses are involved in the learning process. I am trying to incorporate a multi-sensory approach to my homeschooling. Todays blog is focusing on their sense of hearing.

We always have classical music going on during school hours. It is just quietly playing, but I can sense a difference when I forget to turn it on. Currently we are mostly listening to the Brandenburg Concertos by Bach (One of my all time favorites). I plan to work through many pieces this year. I am also educating my kids to what they are listening to and who composed it, so it is kind of like Music Appreciation at the same time.

This year I plan to introduce them to new pieces each month: Holst's Planets, Mozart's Sonata in D, as well as pieces by Smetana, Beethoven, Dvorak...well and many more.

During our Unit Study time, I have downloaded two new albums from iTunes. The first is Patriotic Classics for Kids. This is fantastic as it has everything from America, the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner to the Marines march, Yellow Rose of Texas and Dixie. They are all done without words as classical pieces. We are using this as the background music for when we talk or are doing our silent reading.

During crafting time (which we have a lot of) we are listening to Songs of America by the Cedarmont kids. This album has children singing to songs like Yankee Doodle, Battle Hymn of the Republic, You're a Grand Old Flag and many more. Plus a great perk with this one is that it is a split track so your kids can learn it and then sing it themselves!

The arts are struggling to stay alive in our schools. With each round of budget cuts they become more and more vulnerable. Even if you don't homeschool you can keep them alive in your home. During dinner turn some classical music on in the background. While the kids do their chores crank up the tunes. Teach them to listen for instruments. Encourage them to actually listen to the words. Take the time to explain what the artists may even mean.

I would love to hear from you. Are your kids schools being hit with the cuts? How do you incorporate Hearing, primarily music, into your homes? Do you even know who Smetana is? Do you just want to say hi? Leave me a comment...they make me happy  :) Also if you totally love what I am writing (HA HA) you can also subscribe on the right hand side so you get ever post in your email box. Don't worry you won't be spammed. How would I find the time in my day to write that many posts LOL.



  1. This is funny because I also love the Gettysburg soundtrack--and for the same reason! (Mr. Ferguson's class, I mean.) I listen to music when I paint (especially opera or jazz) because it helps keep the rest of my mind busy. Or sometimes I just listen to TV instead because it's an excuse to watch TV--but I notice my painting goes better if I choose the music. I really like the soundtrack to Master and Commander The Far Side of the World (especially the pieces by Richard Tognetti), and jumping off of that there are some really nice classical music collections based on Patrick O'brien's seafaring novels (which that movie is also based on). The albums are called Musical Evenings with the Captain Volumes I and II.

  2. I will look into those suggestions as well. They sound like they could be pretty amazing to add to our listening schedule :)

  3. I've discovered your blog! : ) I remember driving from CA to MI one summer with my parents listening to "Kids Sing America" the whole way. I'm sure my parents were SICK of it after a few hours, but we loved it. : ) My brother (age 28) still comments on how moving it was for him to wake up in the car after a long drive through the desert to see the sun rising and hear "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light..."