Learn how to introduce music and an instrument to your early elementary child even if you have absolutely no idea how to do it.
Living Music from the Heart
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You’ve thought about a piano or keyboard like Charlotte Mason recommended, but that’s just too expensive right now. Besides, you have a small house with nowhere to put one.
You need a simple way to introduce an instrument to your young student that’s easy for you to fit into your life. Oh, and it has to be engaging for your wiggly child. AND it can’t break the bank.
If this sounds like you, then consider Volume 1: The Magic Flute by Jodie Messler
I bought this program for my own 6-year-old and we’ve been working through it joyfully this year. (edit – we are now at 8 years old and going through it again)
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Living Music from the Heart comes from a Waldorf background, but as with other Waldorf-inspired curricula I’ve reviewed and loved, it isn’t specific to a Waldorf style. By that I mean, there’s nothing in it that you’d have to throw out to use with our Charlotte Mason education.
In Waldorf circles, students don’t start academics until the year they will be 7 for most of it. In other words, if your child turns 7 in spring, they will generally wait until the following autumn to begin studies.
I recommend the same thing for most kids in a Charlotte Mason education, because most children at a young 6 just aren’t ready for “school.”
Living Music from the Heart is a lovely transitional program for your Kindergarten-at-6 year, and is also suitable up to age 9 for a child with no musical training.
Let’s get down to what the program actually consists of.
Features of Living Music from the Heart Magic Flute
Living Music introduces music theory to your child by teaching her to play the penny whistle by ear. You can also use it to teach yourself the recorder or pentatonic flute, but you’ll need to YouTube the different fingering for those.
The tin whistle/pennywhistle is an inexpensive instrument that is easy for both a child and an adult to learn, so it is perfect for this age. Waldorf methodology calls for a “blowing instrument” at these early years, but I like it for Charlotte Mason also because a piano is simply out of reach for many of us.
The program itself is a course on the thinkific platform and includes not only pdfs but videos as well, of every lesson.
And… there are 9 teacher lessons, to teach YOU how to play the instrument.
Not only that, but there is a video of Jodie teaching her own son a lesson. You can see just what can be expected of a young student! It was so reassuring to see that even Jodie had to call him back a few times to keep him on track.
When my own daughter started giggling and ran out of the room during a lesson, I knew it wasn’t a problem with her. It was just the age — because I’d seen Jodie’s son do the same thing!
The entire course consists of 20 lessons, divided into four blocks over the entire calendar year. Each lesson is marked with what time frame it works best for, like “May be used for weeks 1 & 2 of September”.
If you fall off schedule, it’s not a big deal.
It’s seasonal in that, for example, October music has a Jack O Lantern song. But as a bonus in the program are songs for autumn, Christmas, winter, spring, and summer songs. It’s so easy to just substitute an appropriate song. Those are also songs that the parent plays, so you don’t have to worry that your child doesn’t yet know those notes.
In addition, your child will knit a case for his tin whistle over the course of the year. If you struggle to get any sort of handwork into your life, this is a simple, no-fuss way to do it!
Breakdown of lessons
Let me break the program down to an easy-to-digest format:
7 Teacher Lessons
20 lessons for your child
The 20 lessons are divided into 4 blocks (Wind, Fire, Earth, Water)
The first 16 lessons are to be done at a pace of 2 weeks per lesson (totally flexible though — let’s be honest here, sometimes that pace just doesn’t work for our family life!)
The last 4 lessons are to be done at 1 lesson per month. These are scheduled over May, June, July, and August. They are a really nice way to keep up over the summer, without feeling like your child is still keeping to a school schedule.
Each lesson consists of reviewing notes learned, rhythm practice via hand clap games, a song to learn (either singing or on the tin whistle), and often a separate game to play.
For each lesson, there is a pdf of what you will be teaching, plus a short video of Jodie demonstrating the songs and hand claps.
Children are encouraged to pick up the flute throughout the week and play it. Not play with it (we don’t want them turning into pretend-swords!) but actually play the pennywhistle throughout the week.
What Your Child will Learn
Your child won’t learn to play the pennywhistle like a virtuoso in Level 1 — you will only teach a few notes to your child at this level. What your child will learn is
- to play the notes B, A, and G properly, and by ear
- how to finger them on a starter flute
- fast and slow
- hand clap games
- that playing music is fun and not stressful
I feel like that list doesn’t get across the way the curriculum feels though. It is written directly to the homeschooling mom and is full of gentleness and beauty. While each activity is short because a 6-year-old’s attention span is, it doesn’t feel like you are rushing from one thing to the next.
This course is for you if you want a different way of teaching music than the academic way you were taught.
Who This is not for
As much as I love the program, it’s not the right fit for everyone. So who shouldn’t buy it?
- If you want an academic approach with reading music
- If you want a particular style of teaching, like Suzuki
- If your child is 7-9 years old and you know how to play the pennywhistle or pentatonic flute, start with Volume 2 rather than Volume 1
What are the cons?
Cost — Isn’t that always a concern? The current price is $125, and sometimes that can feel out of reach. I can help with that, though, because …
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Production quality – the videos were filmed several years ago in Jodie’s house, and the production quality of them isn’t professional. It’s not a turn off to me (I’m teaching it in my own house, after all), but it’s something to be aware of upfront.
The good of this program far outweighs the cons, and overall it’s an excellent program for early elementary homeschools.
Have you used this program or any others from Living Music from the Heart? I’d love to hear about your experiences!