How Music Can Hinder Homeschool Learning

Homeschool learning can be fun.  And music is an important part of any child’s education.  But not all music is equal.  Therefore, It is important to select the right balance in music for your homeschool curriculum to enhance your child’s learning.

From ancient times it has been understood that there was a difference between “good” and “bad” music.  Good music promotes happiness and well-being, while “bad” music is destructive.  The ancient Greeks considered music to be a state affair. It was that important.

Later, the Christian Church also considered music to be too important to be left alone. Church fathers considered music to be an ecclesiastical affair.  They regulated music by the rules of grammar and syntax that helped avoid one or more of the seven deadly sins.

Today, neither church nor state attempts to regulate music, although government money is often used to support the musical arts in some form.  But just because it is not regulated, does not mean that music no longer affects people.  According to the Greeks, music had three influences.

First, it could spur to action.  You see this in military marches and the selection of particular instruments.

Second, it can undermine, or it can enhance, general well-being.  Music can be soothing or disturbing.  It can help you relax, or it can be so unsettling that you put your hands over your ears and scream  “stop that music.”

Third, music has such a strong influence that people will suspend entirely their normal will power.  The result is people can become unconscious of their acts.  It is, in other words, a form of intoxication, a means of escaping from reality to the world of fantasy.

It is well-documented that music can be good for children, and that kids who learn a musical instrument can often get better results in other subjects.

But if that is true, its opposite is also true, and parents can hinder their child’s learning by giving them the wrong music.

What is it, though, that allows parents to know and understand the difference between “good” and “bad” music?  Is there a standard, a set of guidelines, that allow parents to make better choices in music?

Fortunately, that is not as difficult as it seems.  Watch almost any movie and you can get a good lesson on music appreciation.  The musicians who select and compose the music for this medium must select the kind of music that matches and enhances the visual scenes.  Quiet panoramic scenes have different music than noisy bars and discos.  Bars and discos don’t have the Bandenbrug Concertos, for example, playing for the dancing crowd.

No movie producer mixes baroque music with discos, or disco music with quiet reverence.  If he did, you would come away from the movie disoriented and disturbed because your eyes and your ears told you opposite stories.  The name for that is confusion.

It is the combination of the elements of music – melody, harmony, rhythm and tone color – that creates the difference between “good” and “bad” music.  You ought to add volume to that list with the advent of electronic music with what seams at times to be an unlimited output capacity.  Just as there is good and bad in language, so there is good and bad in music.

The incessant drive of syncopated rhythm, where the strong beat is moved from its regular position at the beginning of the measure, is just one distinguishing mark of music that disturbs the human brain negatively.  The movement of harmony as it shifts from key to key can create a quiet sensuality that needs to be kept in check by moral standards.

Yes, homeschooling can be fun – but it is also a challenge.  Homeschool music is an essential part of the homeschool curriculum that can strengthen your child’s cognitive abilities and help enhance the learning environment.   Choose wisely.


Ian Hodge, Ph.D, lives in East Lansing, MI.  A musician and business consultant, he is the creator of ReadWritePlay.com – a self-teaching creative music program that teaches students how to read and write music from the beginning. For more information on music, Click Here for a free download. No e-mail address required.

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