Friday, January 29, 2010

A Broad Education - The Arts

When children have begun regular lessons (that is, as soon as they are six), this sort of study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of the term.
Charlotte Mason - Home Education pg. 309

Something wonderful has happened in our home over the past year or so and I can't help but lay my personal thanks to Charlotte Mason and her ideas on "short lessons". Instead of sticking to only the basics of school subjects I have been able to open broad doors to a very liberal education for my children starting at a young age.
Left to myself I would never have felt able to tackle such subjects as literature, world history, art, classical music and composers, poetry and handicrafts. But being bolstered and instructed by an experienced educator (Miss Mason) we have boldly entered into each of these subjects.

"the lessons are short, seldom more than twenty minutes in length for children under eight..."

I have talked with other home school mom's who wish to add many of these border subjects to their child's school routine but are too overloaded with current schedules or unsure of how to proceed that they simply don't even try. Frankly had I not read Miss Mason's work I would have been in the same boat. It seems as though we as home school moms feel that we must cover all or not at all, we tend to overdue all subjects especially those that are not considered basics. Normally I would have approached art study or composer study thinking that we needed to read several books on the artist or composer and hear or study all of their works. Miss Mason's protocol for art and music study would have seemed very simplistic.
Thankfully, I was willing to try and have been overwhelmingly pleased with the results. Not only do we have the time (5-15 minutes, once a week) to study paintings and listen to musical selections we have also learned from narrating our impressions to each other and each of my school age children has enjoyed learning more about a particular artist or composer on their own.

The art training of children should proceed on two lines. The six-year-old child should begin both to express himself and to appreciate, and his appreciation should be well in advance of his power to express what he sees or imagines.
Charlotte Mason - Home Education pg. 307

If you are using Ambleside Online's composer rotation then at some point you will want to listen to Jean Sibelius's Symphony no. 1. I can't say that I've heard this symphony before or for that matter much at all by Sibelius but I am happy to say that it is a very good piece and we all enjoyed listening to it as well as watching the orchestra perform it.

You can read more about the symphony here and more about Jean Sibelius here.

If you are looking for an avenue for your kiddos to learn more about the symphony and the various musical instruments then I would highly recommend the games found at Carnegie Hall Listening Adventures. My children have really enjoyed playing the games and have learned a large amount about instruments and the symphony. They can each name the instruments by sight although we are still working on being able to name them by sound.


  1. Really refreshing.
    Thanks for sharing. I will be following and reading more later.
    God bless.

  2. I enjoy reading how this has worked for you. It's wonderful to go beyond the basic subjects. Charlotte Mason's method, with short lessons, does makes it attainable.


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