Published with Permission
Written by Molly Green
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
We know from His Word that music was God’s idea. It’s part of His character, and because we are bearers of His image, music is part of our character too. It’s why He created us with voices to sing, why some of us are gifted musicians, and why most of us are inspired to rejoice, to worship, and to celebrate with music.
Martin Luther made this frequently quoted statement: “Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.” Though styles may have changed since Luther’s sixteenth century and our choices and personal preferences vary, I don’t know anyone who is not grateful for how music enriches our lives.
Instilling an appreciation for music and providing the lessons for developing skills that our children need in order to enjoy and use their natural musical talents is a priority for many homeschooling families, but finding frugal ways and resources to provide that education in music, including private voice or instrument lessons, can be a challenge. A typical half-hour weekly lesson can cost anywhere from $20–$50 per child. Depending on the number of children in a family who want or need lessons, $200 a month per child can be more than our budgets can handle, but the more motivated, disciplined, or gifted our children are, the more likely we will be to find a way to make it happen.
Even if our children are not musically gifted, studies have shown that a music education can help them develop skills in critical thinking and creative problem solving. Children who study music are more likely to achieve success in math and science as well—all good reasons to invest in a music education for all of our children.
One of the ways we can save money in that investment is to begin a music education program with our children at a very young age. This preparation can form a foundation that could reduce the number of private lessons the child will need when he is older and therefore make the financial investment more valuable. The good news is that this early preparation doesn’t cost anything but our time and patience.
My music teacher friend Leslie believes that children learn the disposition and desire to make music from their parents—that they can learn particular skills from a teacher throughout their lives, but that the love of making music comes from their parents, even if the parents have no musical abilities. A love for music will likely motivate our children to be diligent music students when they are ready for structured lessons.
Using free resources from the local library and online, Leslie exposed her son to music as soon as he was born, playing classical music and instrumental music (piano/guitar/saxophone/violin) throughout the day. She sang to him while changing his diaper, during bath time, while getting him dressed, and before bedtime or naptime—songs such as “Jesus Loves Me,” “Eensy Weensy Spider,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” and “12 Days of Christmas.” While he was a baby in a bouncy seat, she played the piano and his daddy played the guitar. When her son was a little older, she began using music websites to play theory and composer games with him.
As a teacher, Leslie also encourages parents to dance with their children and let them enjoy movement and rhythm, gently tapping out the beat on their backs. According to Leslie, research has shown that children who experience rhythm with their bodies can more easily hear it inside their heads.
Leslie insists that young children’s musical growth occurs best in a playful, musically rich, and developmentally appropriate setting that is free from direct instruction and performance pressure and that they learn best through play and experimentation, which can be accomplished in our own homes at no cost at all.
Giving our children a head start in their music education can go a long way in preparing them for more advanced or individual instruction later, saving time and money in the future. When that time does come, there are a few options to consider in making that financial investment as frugal as possible.
As a family, pray for wisdom and direction and provisions. It’s a given, but sometimes we forget that there is no part of our lives that is outside of God’s providential care for us and our children.
- Ask for suggestions from others. Let your friends know you are looking for a music teacher. They might be aware of a teacher you should avoid or a teacher who makes wise use of her time (and your money) with her students.
- If possible, put a notice in the church bulletin or newsletter that you are looking for a music teacher. It just might be the answer to prayer for a retired music teacher who is questioning her usefulness or someone who is considering teaching but isn’t confident that she’s equipped.
- Consider taking less expensive group lessons. This might be a good option for a student who isn’t as motivated as others but would be inspired by the enthusiasm and interest of other students in the class.
- Buy or borrow lesson books from other families with children who are more advanced.
- Consider hiring a high school or college student to teach your children. Student teachers are usually not experienced enough for advanced students, but they are a less expensive way for beginning students to learn and for you to evaluate your child’s interest for continuing.
- Consider self-learning options. A motivated student can use library or online resources to teach himself.
- Barter for lessons and/or instrument rentals. Exchanging services (yard work for piano lessons, babysitting for voice lessons, housekeeping for guitar lessons, etc.) can be mutually beneficial.
- Request shorter lessons or less frequent lessons to cut the cost in half. A diligent student can make up some of the gaps in progress by being disciplined to practice his lessons.
- Rent an instrument before investing in a purchase. If your child quickly loses interest, your financial loss won’t be as great.
Finally, if private voice or instrument lessons are a priority and none of the efforts to reduce the cost are available, we should consider making adjustments in other areas of our budget to compensate for the cost of lessons. If the lessons are equally important to our child, it might be a good idea to ask him to help cover the costs in age-appropriate ways.
Molly Green is passionate about cheerful, creative homemaking on a down-to earth budget. Visit her online home, www.Econobusters.com for tips about frugal and tasty cooking, fresh decorating ideas, affordable family fun, simple but effective organizing, and much more! Sign up for her free weekly E-Newsletter and get a bonus menu-planning E-Book too!
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.