Group Classes, Music History

More Details About My Homeschool Music History Class

DSC_20121005_173751I have been receiving TONS of questions about my homeschool Music History Classes lately, so I decided to write a post that explains more about how I started and currently run the class.

You may recall that my husband and I moved from Michigan to Ohio about a year-and-a-half ago.  Starting up a new studio from scratch takes time, and there is a business strategy that says: “Diversify your income.”  I had been wanting to reach out to the home-school community for awhile already (Fun fact: did you know I was home-schooled for 5 years of my education growing up?).  🙂  When I saw Sheryl Welles’s idea (see her blog here) about having a Music Appreciation/Music History class for home-schoolers, I decided I wanted to try to start one, too!

After some online research, I discovered that the home-schooling families in my area have a Yahoo group where they chat and stay in touch about upcoming events.  I joined the Yahoo group and posted some information about the classes I want to start.  I received only one reply, from a family with three children.  Those three children were the entire class for quite awhile, and eventually two more joined.

I decided to hold each class for 50 minutes, so that I could have 10 minutes to put everything away afterwards and still have time to start a private lesson at the next hour if I wanted to.

At first, I taught short lessons about a new composer every week, but soon realized that this was not enough time to give the composer justice — and the students were not absorbing the information well enough.  When I would review information from previous weeks, they would get the composers mixed up.  That is when I decided to format my curriculum into lapbooks.   Using the lapbooks, we cover a new composer every three weeks.  (My music history curriculum “Great Composers & Their Music” is currently available for purchase in my Shop at $10 per composer.)

We generally spend about 20-25 minutes each class working on the lapbooks while I read the biography and play musical excerpts by the composer.  The rest of the class time is spent doing a variety of activities.  I plan worksheets or games that cover rhythm, aural, or theory concepts that are appropriate to the students’ current music knowledge.  I write weekly lesson plans, so that I can easily look back and plan ahead.

As you already know, I often create my own games and worksheets and share them here on my blog.  🙂  But I do often use materials created by other teachers, too.  The two resources I have been using the most recently are and  If you don’t already know about these two websites, you should definitely check them out now!

If you have other questions about my homeschool music class, please leave a comment below this post!

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18 thoughts on “More Details About My Homeschool Music History Class”

  1. Wonderful Joy, glad it’s working out for you. A couple questions…
    1) How do you charge for this class (a certain percentage of what you would of a private lesson, also… by the month, by the semester, etc…)

    2) Are the kids in the class also taking piano or another instrument? Or just this? (which I’m interpreting of more of a music appreciation class)

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’ve been charging per month like I do with my private lessons. I charge much less per student for these classes, since it is not one-on-one time like private lessons are. I did some research in my area about what art classes and karate classes cost, and tried to price myself accordingly. It’s important to also take into consideration how much materials will cost, how much prep time you will need each week, etc.

      Some of the children in my class are taking piano lessons (with another teacher in town, actually) and the parents really liked the idea of them getting the music history education, too. The others in the class have to background in piano or other musical instruments. I don’t teach the kids a lot of piano things, partly because their levels are so different! So, I do approach it mostly from a music appreciation standpoint. We listen to music, and learn to identify and talk about what we are hearing. Over the course of the class, I have ended up teaching the class about basic rhythm values (this was review for some of the kids, of course).

      I hope that answers your questions, Jennifer! 🙂

  2. I was homeschooled too! 🙂 I’ve been teaching piano lessons for a few years now, but have just recently started teaching (along with another person) a music theory/music appreciation class at a local private school.

    In that class we have been using A LOT of your worksheets. 🙂 It can be rather difficult sometimes, because I’ve got to have material for all grade levels, only split into two separate groups! Another thing that makes it a little difficult is that some of the kids are my piano students, so they are beginning to learn these things in their own lessons, but some have NO background in music. So, we have a definite focus on theory, and that seems to be working well for our class structure. 🙂

    Anyway, keep up the good work! I enjoy reading your blog, and using the resources you have created! 🙂

    1. Yes, it is challenging when the class consists of some students who have taken private lessons and others who haven’t. I have found that rhythm activities are beneficial for anyone, and so are listening-based activities. Theory is a good way to go too, providing the students in lessons haven’t gotten too advanced yet! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, Caroline!

  3. This is such a great idea! I’ve never been homeschooled, but I’d love to hear more about this.

    Is this purely a theory class (i.e. the students don’t necessarily make music themselves)?

    1. Correct — the students don’t actually play piano themselves. I do have them clapping rhythms or using hand-held instruments sometimes. Usually, I approach music from a listening standpoint — identifying basic things like loud/soft, high/low, fast/slow, etc. — but we’ve also began to be able to distinguish Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern music by ear. For example, I taught them what Alberti bass sounds like and told them that if they hear it in a piece of music, they can be 90% sure that it is from the Classical Era. 🙂 We are, too, learning lots of facts about specific composers through the lapbooks, as mentioned in the post above.

  4. I’ve never thought of offering music appreciation classes to homeschoolers or anyone else. That’s a really good idea. I do offer discounts since they can usually come during the day, but I don’t actively pursue homeschooled students. (Though I should. I really want more students during the day.)

    I admire you going the yahoo group route to get some homeschoolers. In my experience, these groups tend to be a bit closed off, not wanting advertising or posts offering a service. Maybe I just had some bad luck or something? But I might give it a go since you had some luck.

    And I really love the lapbooks you mentioned in your post. I think I’ll incorporate them in my group classes for next year. Really neat idea!

    1. You can always ask the moderators of the group before posting, to ask if they would be interested in hearing about music opportunities for homeschoolers. I don’t post very often because I don’t want them to get sick of me. 🙂 I think I posted about 3 or maybe 4 times over the past year.

      1. Also, I think they were more receptive to me than other people who might try to post about services because I was offering something specific to homeschoolers. I don’t advertise about private lessons, although they know that I am a piano teacher. I have only posted about the class for homeschoolers and the summer camps I offer. Of course, my hope is that after attending the class or a summer camp, they will want to sign up for lessons. 🙂

  5. What an excellent idea, Joy! I have been teaching theory/music appreciation group classes for almost 14 years to all my students but never thought to offer them to home schooled children (children, who don’t piano lessons with me). Thank you for sharing this idea, Joy. You gave me something that I can move forward with in our area.

  6. As a homeschooler who also teaches piano, I can tell you an easy way to contact homeschoolers without seeming too intrusive. Ask your local librarian! Seriously! I assure you that she knows who the homeschoolers are. She will probably know of one who would love to be contacted personally…..and you can go from there. I’m saying this because our group’s email loop isn’t open to the public. Also, you’ll find that any homeschooled students that you add to your studio will practice more than the average student. All that time at home……with Mom……

  7. Joy, this is a brilliant idea! Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to have a house where I can do what you do, such a dream job!
    All the best to you.

  8. Joy, I’m getting ready to offer music appreciation/history to my homeschool group. Do you use a pre-made lapbook from Hands of a Child, or do you make it up yourself?

    Robbin who is grateful for your advice

  9. Joy, here’s another thought. Many students begin earning high school credits when they are in the 8th grade. I think this material is enough to be considered at least 1/2 credit for Fine Arts. You could give the parents some suggestions as to what else they could do at home (or another class you could teach) to complete the credit. Homeschooler moms everywhere are beginning to appreciate the idea of having some help with the high school courses.

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