Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hidden Art of Homemaking~ Chapter 3

This chapter is easy for my family because we are a family of musicians.  I have two degrees in music, my husband spent a large part of his undergrad years as a music major, and both of our daughters play instruments.  I have a lot to say about music and children. 

We've incorporated music into our home in various ways over the years. When the girls were younger, we sang A LOT, in the car especially.  We sang Raffi songs*, folk songs, nursery rhymes, hymns, traditional children's songs. . .  We also listened to a lot of CD's in the car, but we rarely listened to pop music or music patterned after pop music.  (An aside~ I detest music for children written in the pop genre.  I just can't stand it.  There is so much good stuff out there for children without it!)  It helps that Dave and I can both carry a tune (actually, he's quite a good singer; I am adequate), but even if we couldn't, we'd have sung along with CD's.  Kids need to be singing and getting used to their voices.  Don't tell them they can't sing, and worse yet, don't tell them you can't sing!  Just pop in a CD and sing along.  No one will care, especially the kids!  They'll just remember everyone singing as a family. 

We used to have the occasional evening of making music together, Lizzie on piano, me on flute or piano, Dave on cello, violin, or viola, and when Hannah was very young, she banged a drum or tambourine along with us.  We had lots of fun, especially playing Celtic music.  If you can, set aside some time to play and/or sing together.  If someone plays the piano or guitar, then that person can accompany the rest singing.  It doesn't really matter what instrumentation you've got, just do it.  It's a great alternative to watching a movie together.  I'm sorry to say that we haven't done this in a long, long time.  Maybe it's time to revive it. :)

We start 'em young here.  This is Arane at four months sitting on her
grandpa's lap and listening to Hannah practice the viola.  Look at the excitement
on her face!  She's practically dancing!

There is nothing like a live concert to spark musical interest in a person.  In a couple of the classes I teach for The Potter's School, I require my students to attend two classical music concerts a year and write a short paper about it.  They almost always attend with other family members.  In the year-end evaluations, the most consistent positive comment I receive is about these concerts.  Over and over again, parents tell me that they would never have made the effort to attend a classical music concert if not for these assignments and that they plan to continue taking their families.  Mission accomplished! :)  Take your kids to concerts!

Before we moved to Illinois, we lived in a university town and Hannah and I used to go to student and faculty recitals, which were free.  Also, a community college in a nearby town had an amazingly affordable concert series.  Student tickets were just $5, and though adult tickets were more (I think $8-10), it was still an incredible bargain!  We heard many wonderful up-and-coming world class musicians and also some who were already well established.  The setting was intimate, and the musicians felt free to talk to and interact with the audience.  I particularly remember the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and the Vienna Boys' Choir.  For several years, Dave or I would take Lizzie to these concerts.  Sadly, the series came to an end a year or two after Hannah was old enough to join us.  We also attended local symphony concerts when we could, but the tickets were usually out of our price range. Now we live in a pretty isolated small town with very few opportunities to attend concerts without driving a considerable distance.  I am so glad we took the opportunity while we could!


One of my favorite ways to introduce hidden art through music into the home (or car!) is with the CD, The Sprig of Thyme by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.  The Cambridge Singers is my favorite choral group.  Their sound is smooth and blended and pure.  Their musicality, phrasing, and intonation are first-rate. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than their rendition of "She Moved Through the Fair."  Not only is their performance first-rate, the arrangement is breathtakingly exquisite.  I've been listening to this CD for two and a half years and I am still not tired of it.  If you would like to introduce something beyond pop music into your home, this is an excellent place to start.  And you and your children can sing along!

*I really like Raffi.  I think his simple, folksy, acoustic sound is just right for young children.  He sings a mix of nursery songs, folk songs, traditional songs, and even a few hymns that I think should be a part of our children's collective knowledge and experience.  He also writes original songs.  When he has children singing with him, they are real children who sound like children, not like Broadway star wannabes or like the overly polished, bland, vanilla children I sometimes hear on CD's published by Christian labels.  (Those are banished from our house!)  Something important about Raffi is that his music doesn't annoy me, unlike anything put out by Sesame Street.  I actually enjoy it and didn't mind listening to it over and over again.  The caveat I have about Raffi is that he is sometimes too much of a tree hugger for my taste.  I should also say that I am not familiar with his later recordings.  My children outgrew him a long time ago, so I have lost touch with his later work.


  1. My entire Spotify account is based on your suggestions except for the Train and 70s rock. Listening to the Rutter recording now. Lovely.

  2. I loved folk songs and hymns for the boys when they were young. We also listened to Steve Green's Hide Em In Your Heart CDs. The songs are Scripture and the children sing in normal voices.

    Once I can access spotify, I plan to listen to your suggestions. I'm currently on a train, catching up on my reading. :)

  3. We listened to those Steve Green recordings, too, Joy. I had forgotten about them!


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