HS #244 Stories and Music and Learning that Sticks with Janice Campbell and Carol Reynolds
Links and Resources:
Professor Carol Reynolds is a much sought-after public speaker for arts venues, homeschool conferences, and general audiences. She combines insights on music history, arts, and culture with her passion for arts education to create programs and curricula, inspires concert audiences, and lead art tours. Never dull or superficial, Carol brings to her audiences a unique blend of humor, substance, and skilled piano performance to make the arts more accessible and meaningful to audiences of all ages.
Carol has led art tours to Russia, Poland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, San Francisco, and Broadway on behalf of several arts organizations and has recently teamed with Smithsonian Journeys for cruises to the Holy Land, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic Sea, Indian Ocean, and across the Atlantic. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy give tour participants an unforgettable experience.
For more than 20 years, Carol was Associate Professor of Music History at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She now makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, Hank, and her daughter and grandchildren. Hank and Carol maintain a second residence in Weimar, Germany — the home of Goethe, Schiller, Bach, and Liszt, and the focal point of much of Europe’s artistic heritage.
Saul by George Frideric Handel: https://www.classicalarchives.com/work/11666.html
The Creation by Joseph Haydn:
Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev
The role of music in a Hitchcock movie soundtrack:
Hurrah and Hallelujah: 100 Songs for Children
Excellence in Literature curriculum (Grades 8-12)
“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” Plato
“ . . . the mind refuses to know anything except what reaches it in more or less literary form.” Charlotte Mason
CONNECT WITH GUEST Professor Carol:
Connect with Janice Campbell:
Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week, you'll hear from one of us, inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.
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And now, on to today's show.
Hi, I'm Janice Campbell and today I'm here with Professor Carol Reynolds to talk about stories. Stories are universal. They show up not only in books and history and science, but also in music, art, and dance. We're gonna talk about why stories in the arts are not extras in your homeschool; they're essential.
But first, let me introduce my guest, Professor Carol. After many years of teaching music history at Southern Methodist University, Carol discovered the world of homeschooling and has been sharing her energy, expertise, and amazing curriculum with homeschooling families ever since.
That's not all though. Carol leads Smithsonian arts tours in Russia and Europe and is a popular speaker in concert halls and arts venues across the country and elsewhere.
Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions podcast, Carol.
Oh, it's lovely to be here. Especially with you, Janice.
We are ??? such fun talking. I just enjoyed our acquaintance because when we're together, we usually end up talking about literature and music and the arts and their place in education and life. It's so...that was what I thought about you for my first podcast with Homeschool Solutions. So. I think that everyone realizes that books are filled with stories. But they don't always know that music tells stories too. Can you start by talking a bit about how music tells stories, even when it doesn't have words?
Well, I'd love... that's a great question, I'd love to start with that. And of course, sometimes music does have words, and we think about things like Broadway musicals, which of course are based on, very often, terrific pieces of literature, right? And opera, which is just the category that Broadway musicals fits under. A lot of people don't realize that their favorite Broadway musical is actually an American opera. You know? I mean, so, operas clearly are story-telling...big storytelling musical venues or forces, if you will.
And there are other kinds of music with words that maybe is a...keep the visual aspect the same way as an opera, where your characters in costumes and people moving back and forth as if they were on our...a stage play. But things like oratorios and cantatas, which are dramatic narratives with text and with characters. No costumes. No acting. But, telling a story through the music and the words. Those are not as popular in our time, but there have been times in history where the oratorio was just one of the top pieces of music that people came and flocked to hear.
So, you've got those. Those are larger scale. You have a song, both the individual song, which tells stories all time. Sometimes, it's a three-minute story and you know, sometimes it's a fifteen-minute story, where ??? short songs. And that's its own little side-story, but if you remember, songs, we grew up thinking of them as records that they fit on a 45, when you and I were kids, you know.
But a song is to be whatever length the story was. Whatever length the poem was. And then when recording technology came in with the cylinders, in the early 20th Century, a cylinder could only hold about, a little shy of three minutes. And then, the early disc could only hold a little shy of three minutes, so songs became standardized at three minutes. And I think it helps us to understand song when we just get rid of that time limit and realize songs told stories and those stories were long or short, and those songs were longer or shorter, depending on it.
So, I mean, there are several things right there, operas, cantatas, oratorios, songs that tell stories. But that's all with words. And we sort of expect that. So, if I could back away a minute, and just, and then we can pick this up. But music without words tells stories. And two ways, one of which you and I were talking about just before we started this, the dynamics of music. The loudness. The softness. The fastness. The slowness. The sounds of the violins. The orchestration versus the trombones and the trumpets and the drums and the flutes and all of the color that's in orchestration. And even instruments beyond our Western orchestra. All of those things contribute qualities that have a power to narrate a sense of drama. The same way a thunderstorm, and then the clearing of the sky, and then the wind. Those things don't have words, they don't have characters, but they're dramas.
And then lastly, there are kinds of music that are just for instruments, that absolutely do set out to narrate stories, through those musical means I was just mentioning. The volume and the speed and the orchestration and the types of melodies and harmonies. And they're real purpose is to create, in sound, the same sort of progress and momentum of a specific named story. And we tend to call those "tone poems," or "symphonic poems." And they're really the mention, primarily of the nineteenth century. And just to end that long sentence, and they lead directly to today's film scores. Now, I've found a period.
I love it. So, you've talked about a lot of different forms of music, and I wonder if you had an example of an oratorio. Because I am thinking that that's one probably our listeners have not heard of. I know, you know, we've heard of a lot of the other kinds of music.
But an oratorio probably is an unfamiliar form for many.
Well, it is. and then if you say, Messiah, they go, "Oh, right! Hallelujah Chorus!" The thing about Messiah, it's one of many that Handel wrote. He was churning them out, because it was, as I mentioned, it was a very popular form at various points in our Western heritage. But, it is one of the least...I mean, it's a wonderful piece, don't get me wrong. And these guys really did churn them out and they, just the way films are produced. Quickly. With a sort of style that's popular. But it doesn't actually have characters in the way that most oratorios he wrote did. There was actually three different kinds of oratorios. There's a narrative, there's a dramatic, and there's a reflective. Reflective is more like a lyrical poem all the way through. We hear all these beautiful ideas, or exciting ideas, or terrible ideas, and then there are narrative, where the story is told with the soloist and choirs. And then there is dramatic, where you actually have characters, and then you have oratorios that put all three of those together.
Well, now Messiah doesn't have actually a character playing this person or that person. Things are narrated and they're expressed in feelings. So, I say all that... the Messiah's a wonderful example of an oratorio, but I think it helps if you back into some of the...just huge numbers of other types from that period, or from the modern period. Or the twentieth century. The twenty-first century. People still writing them. And they're what you would be looking at, would be, actually, choral pieces. Pieces for soloists and choir and instruments. It could be piano, it could be organ, could be a small chamber ensemble, could be a full orchestra. And they actually are telling a story. And again, I could go back Handel, Saul, which is an oratorio you and I have worked on together, with ??? music, where, I know many of these told Old Testament stories and Saul is a great one in the Old Testament is a great place to get these stories.
But we could jump up to the middle of the twentieth century. We could get all kinds of political examples, where, or historical examples, where huge events in history have been put into oratorical forms. Disasters. Marvelous triumphs. The oratorios that tell the story of the settling of the West. Oratorios that tell the story of wars and conquering and kings and dynasties. All without acting, staging, or costuming. So, it's a big, big world to leap into and you asked, as an example, if I'm gonna say one, I would either say one of the Handel ones like Saul, S-A-U-L, Saul, just what you thought I said, out of the Old Testament. That's a wonderful one. And I might say Hayden's Creation, which was written in 1798. And which is, you know, was written with German and English lyrics. It was actually put together in 1798 to work in both a German and an English market. You know? With a bi-lingual text, which is, was, really modern way to think about, you know? And it's a fabulous work. You should...boy, you haven't heard the Creation till you hear how Hayden puts it into music. it is beautiful, and it goes through all the Creation of the animals and the, you know, the moon and the stars, and then, you know, you get Adam and Eve, and you get angels. It's just such a good work. And it's a wonderful piece.
Ooo, that was a long answer too.
I love that, though, because, you know, what came to mind...you mentioned, of course, theology, Scripture stories, and history and sci... you know, all of the other subjects, things for war, things for mood. And, you know, later in your first answer, you mentioned movie scores. And, homeschooling parents, as they're looking at teaching their children different things, would you say that there is a story or a piece of music that would go with almost any historic event or almost any Biblical event? Everything, to me, seems to have been translated into music at one time or another. Or art. But, you're the expert.
Mmm. Boy, you've just already said it, so I don't have to say it. I mean, that's something a lot of people don't realize, and that's why they...and I understand that they have a lot of things they have to cover, pressure sense of duty and responsibility to things that seem to be the core. And yet, music was always here to support, for education in our Western heritage. And even in other cultural heritages. And yes, the answer's absolutely, you can't walk out of your house and not find something that would go with it musically. Actually, you could find loads of things that would go with that action, musically. Because walking's a big theme. You know?
It's just that we, first of all, we're not brought up...most people aren't brought up knowing this repertoire. We're very far from the concert hall. We're no longer in an era where most people are studying an instrument or their neighbors are, or they hear it, you know? When I was a kid, maybe you, I don't know, but definitely me, you would walk home from school. If you had to stay a little bit late, and hopefully for a good reason, and when you were walking home from school, it's archaic anyway, isn't it? You would hear people already practicing. Cause once kids got home from school, got the cookies and the milk, it was time to practice for thirty minutes or forty-five minutes, or an hour. And virtually every window had...which would've been open before air conditioning... had someone practicing the trumpet or the violin or the piano or the banjo or some...kids were...kids played instruments. They didn't necessarily become great players. That wasn't the point.
So we're not in that world anymore. And people aren't coming up with the culture. You know? I mean, that's unfortunately the word, but they're not coming up around this as a natural flowing phenomenon. So, it just forces the arts back into this funny uncomfortable and really historically, very incorrect position, as a frill.
Right. Because if its siloed, it's not helping kids see, hear, learn, and remember. You're not teaching the whole child, head, heart, and hand when you're only addressing the mind. When you're only giving them paper and books and all of those things. And paper and books are necessary and lovely. Stories are found there too. Because many of the stories that are found in books, such as the Odyssey, were probably sign by a Baird, originally. Homer's poem.
So, bringing those things to kids does help them to remember, doesn't it?
Oh, yeah. I mean what's the first song of sophistication that kids learn? And no, it's not wheels on the bus. So that's one of them. Look how little a child can be and still sing the ABC's. A child has no idea what it's about, necessar...but when you think about that, look at all the sound, look at.. that's not the simplest melody. That's a lot of stuff. And they've got that flying out of their mouth before they have a clue. And if only we took that and, you know, could...I mean, if we only sang all of this the way people used to learn through song. You can teach a child virtually anything by learning to sing it. Complex formula. Chemistry formulas. Mathematics. We kind of laugh about, oh well, multiplication facts by tune. And they usually use terrible tunes. Let's use good melody ??? Brahm's or, you know ??? Let's get these insipid and boring melodies.
But the point is, melody is one of the strongest ways to learn text. That's why there's Gregorian chant. That's one of the main reasons. And chant, allows you...if you chant the songs, you will learn the songs. And you won't have to work at it either. And you know all that. I know you know all of it. But we don't leash...unleash that power, and we do not hook into it.
Right. And I just remember, as a child, music was hugely important to me. I would sit. I had a little corner behind the love seat in our living room, and I would sit there and sing to myself. Or I'd go climb into the peach tree and sing to myself. And it was to remember. A lot of times it was to remember the song, specifically, but sometimes I would just make up tunes to things that I wanted to remember. I remember trying to learn to count to 100 and I was a tiny kid. But I wanted to be sure, and so, I made a little melody to go one through nine, and then replicated that melody, you know, from ten through nineteen and so forth. And just the melodies helped. And music was such a part of my life that the songs and the melodies. The facts that I learned through those, cause we did back in the day, use melodies in classrooms. Every first-grade classroom in our little school, in a very, very poor side of town, had a piano. And every single day, there were folk songs and the melodies that every child used to learn. And not just American folk songs, but Australian, of course, you have the Kookaburras and other delightful things.
But those songs are still with me half a century later. The things that I learned when I was young. When I was about four, I had a blue plastic elephant. And I named him Philly Chart. And my mother said, why did you call him Philly Chart? And I said, because, it's the song. it's my favorite song. You know, Philly Chart with thy love? Revive us again. Which was a very popular hymn in our church?
So, my mother did not laugh to her credit. But, you know, music does stay with children. It's learning that sticks. But when we studied, when we were homeschooling our four boys and were studying wars, we would try to go back and pull the music that was being listened to by the soldiers that was encouraging people at home. It changed. From the Civil War to World War One, to World War Two. And it had different sounds, different moods, different feelings. And you think about that as it's translated into movie scores. And how the music sets the tone for a movie. If you took, if you listen to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, for example, and you took away the music, that suspenseful...those chords that make you just, on the edge of your seat. I think a lot of the power of the story would be lost.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it'd be boring, for one thing.
It would be boring because that keeps us engaged. So, how can we homeschooling parents use music? Not "use" it, in a bad way, but how to bring it in and share it with our children. How do we find out what the music of a period is?
Oh, that's...you know, it's a lot of questions, and it's kinda funny. We were talking about songs, cause they were the same with me, plus, my dad, he was a hillbilly guitarist and my mother listened to Met opera on the radio, the Texaco radio broadcast. So, I was getting it from all sides and...but, you're right. The teachers could all play the piano, more or less. You had Polish folk songs, you did folk dancing, you did little plays with music. But, right now, that's how ??? and I haven't, maybe, had a chance to tell you, but Hank and I are just about...we've actually...at the preorder stage, right now. A new songbook that we put together over the last weeks. It's called, Hurrah and Hallelujah. And it has 100 songs in it from exactly those venues from children, sentimental, counting songs, patriotic songs, historical songs. And we did it, because all of us, our age especially, have all these little crumbling songbooks up in our attics that were our grandmother's and great-grandmothers. You find them in flea markets. They're literally falling apart and those are vital. They're still vital.
And so we thought, gosh, we need to do a new edition. Oh, what did we just say? So, we did. And we're just about to come out with it. We're in the final editing right now. And I hope for some people that will become a resource because people don't necessarily have those songbooks anymore. They may, hopefully, have hymnals. They may not have those old folk songbooks like you and I had.
So, anyway, that's one thing. But the other thing you talked...so I just, I'm glad to tell you about that, because I haven't had a chance to email you about that.
I'm so excited to hear about it because that is a resource that I'm going to want in our home. Because we have grandchildren here, of course, and I know they'll enjoy all of those things. We have some of the old songbooks. Probably like you do. Those, in fact, the same one I had in first grade. But, as you say, it's falling apart. And just having that resource, where it's legible and big enough and it's new enough that you're not going to destroy something valuable. I can't wait.
Oh, thank you. Yeah. Won't be afraid to turn the pages in, you know, and have to get the vacuum cleaner out immediately. You know, you mentioned film scores. And that's a really good place to start, when people say, oh, well, you know, i tried to have some of Mozart or Hayden or tried to get my kids to listen to...forget that for now. But first of all, I love to invite people to, you know, discovering music, which is our signature course, because I think that will...and it does tend to open up a lot for a lot of kids from the middle school age up. But I won't go with that right now. I will say, though, film scores are the direct result of the symphonic tradition. Where did that tradition start? It starts in the late 1920s. Thirties, forties, you know. And we've got the third, fourth generation of that going on now.
But who were those composers? They were classically trained symphonic composers. And the best ones in most every case, not all, but most, were people who fled Europe. Either during the first world war in the Depression era, and, which in Europe was a disastrously difficult...especially if you were Jewish, right? ??? you know, earlier, and then leaving, you know, fleeing Hitler and Stalin. And you know, all these people, I mean, they came to America. They came to Hollywood. And in many cases, had that not all happened, they would have been the very next generation of symphonists. They would have been the next ??? and Brahms, and ??? They were all in the middle of doing that anyway. And suddenly, they had to pack up their suitcases and get out. And a lot of them ended up in academic positions on the East coast. Some of them in the Midwest starting wonderful music departments or orchestras. you know they kind of got as far as they got, but a whole lot of them went to Hollywood. And all of those great film scores, you know, the, I mean, we know the great movies of the thirties and forties, the fifties. The Hitchcock. The Lassie movies. The musical. All that...who's writing all this stuff?
It's these great, in most case, immigrant composers who fled Europe and brought the entire heritage of Western classical music in their little suitcases with them. So you can start with film scores. You can feel perfectly okay putting on if you can buy a cd or a download or find it free streaming or get it from the libraries. They're easy to find. A lot of these cd's, nobody wants anymore. So you can go into these used bookstores and find all these great film scores, old films, new films. And really, you'll find, if you start listening, especially in the last twenty, thirty, forty years, how advanced a lot of the music is.
Can I tell a story really quickly? One of my colleagues...at SMU...very professor, very, very, very fine teacher. And he took, one time he took his sophomore class, a sophomore, I forget it, it was like early on in the year. And they're, you know, college freshman, so they knew the freshman class. But they were a little bit, whatever, skeptical, about this or that or whatever, as kids tend to be at that age, and he played for them a piece of music, it was like about two and half minutes long, which was really quite dissonant and disjointed, and he asked them how much they liked it. And, you know, they hadn't been around a lot of more interesting twentieth-century music yet. This was still back last century, right? And they were not as very responsible. They were not very very like, going, oh, this is great. They were saying, ah, you know, would you enjoy listening to that? Nah, no, we didn't like that. We didn't like that.
Then, we had VHS, at that time, right? He pulled out...pulled down the screen, and popped it in and it was from a movie, I think it was like, I can't remember the film. But it was a movie that they either would be seeing or had all seen, and the fact is, they had been moved, just as you were saying, along with the drama of that music, and when you have a visual, our human ears expand to be much more flexible and accepting of things that are not strictly simple melody, simply harmony. So, the dissonance, the disjointed sound of a lot of that music, once they got the scene going that they all knew, they were going, oh yeah, right, that's great. That's fabulous!
So, you know, you can really stretch your kid's ears and there's a great deal of depth in film music. Putting on these scores, to good films, good films, It's not hard. If anyone wants suggestions, write me. You know. And I think you can open their ears up to symphonic, to orchestral, to choral music. To operatic styles of singing through the film scores. How's that?
I love it! And, you know, a couple of things came to mind as you were talking about that. The whole, a whole new thing of course. The fact that the music does create it and it's the context that makes the two things work together. The music is helping to tell the story, but the story is helping to interpret the music in a sense, just as the two were working together. So, what you're saying, essentially, is that any subject can basically be enriched by the addition of the audio and the visual, and you know, the story of it, if you put that story into context of the music of its time. And the other thing that came to mind was also history. As you were talking about the composers who were composing the film scores in those great golden era films. Their backstory can be part of that twentieth-century history study of music and study of history and study of literature. When kids are studying modern lit, sometimes it feels dark. It doesn't make sense. And why is it always so awful? Depressing. And everything. But then, you start looking at the circumstances of the twentieth century, what was going on. There were all sorts of terrible things going on. Two large things, being World War One and World War Two, which, I had many accompanying events and people that were just terrible. They were dark. And so the music shows it. The literature shows it. There's some fragmentation that's visible and when you can present that with students, they understand history better. They feel it. I think.
They feel it. And they don't forget it. And that's sort of a theme we're not really putting it in words, but you know, you can't do it in isolation. You won't simplistically label it dark or ugly. The kinds of talks you do, that I do, I take on the idea of ugly art sometimes, because, and when you remind people and you show people the guys in the trenches in the first world war, gas warfare, the destruction of the villages when more moved off the battlefield and went into the towns with, you know, tanks. We laugh at them, how they look now, but they were pretty fierce and terrifying in 1916. You know, or when you really start looking at that, how is anybody gonna paint cheery little optimistic paintings when everything they know is being completely devastated?
And also the twenty years later ??? When the artists know. The artist may not be able to say, by the way everybody, I see this coming. But they do it in color, they do it in theme, they do it in line, they do it in sound and rhythm. And they really telling us what they're feeling, even if they couldn't put it into words. And the writers and the poetry telling us. And so, when you see that suddenly our thinking, oh that's ugly, I don't want my kids seeing that. Well, you know what? The mothers of those days didn't want their seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, and fourteen-year-old boys going off to war either. And you know they didn't want to see their churches bombed and their homes, you know, war saw firebombed and fire...I mean, so much terror in the first half of that period of twentieth century. How could the art not reflect it?
Absolutely. And the literature, and the art, bringing it to life as it does. You know there's an element, I know that, a lot of homeschool parents really are cautious about what they give to their children. There is an element where you don't hand it in its full scope to a young child, but as students get up in the teen years, as they become more mature, and they're asking questions about the meaning of things, as they're studying civics and government and all of the history that goes along with it. They need the art. They need the music. Or they're not going to understand the history. They're not going to see it, feel it, or remember it.
That is so right. And once they've seen it, felt it, heard it, moved to it, they do remember it. And then there's a curiosity and a confidence that comes with having the full picture and that includes the science too. Let's not forget that music is a science. Music is acoustics. It's part of the quadrivium along with, you know, with the arithmetic and geometry and astronomy and there's a reason it's a mathematical science. And again, when the kids have all the tools, if you open your door and you got all ya need to cook with, no matter what the recipe, you know how to use the tools, then I think you have a confidence.
Yes. And to me, the most dangerous book in the world is the book that's the only book anybody ever reads. You know, if they never read but one book and they take it seriously, I'm not including Scripture in that, but for a person who just doesn't choose to read more than one thing. Doesn't' choose to read widely and learn about their culture there's always that fear. What's it going to do to me? What, you know, but once you have the knowledge, knowledge becomes power. In a sense. The power being confidence, as you said.
And I feel that music has the language and you mentioned a minute ago about music being mathematical and scientific. And that's another thing, I think people don't realize. Music has way more numbers in it than I realized, of course. You know, when I took piano lessons, back long long ago, there was a little metronome. You know, ticking on the piano. But realizing that that, there is an underlying rhythm to everything. i think that it would have helped me when I studied math, because I never got very confident in math and I did not take music long enough, is one of the things that I think because I didn't take it long enough to see the correspondence. And can you speak to how parents as their children are starting to learn music, or bringing in music theory, where is it that kids can start to see that correspondence between the numerical beauty of music along with the story part of music?
Right. Right. Well, and then you know they think of theory being isolated and they don't realize it's the physical law of sound, you know. I didn't know that either. What I would have given for an acoustics course in high school instead of the second round of dissecting frogs. The first one was okay, but you know... I mean, I didn't know. Now, that's gotten much better. And I ??? Hank put together a music theory course starting with about fourth or fifth graders on up, partly because, he comes from our same generation where you had to wait a while to encounter the truth about the mathematics and the really perfect aspects of the arts, which are scientific and mathematic. I mean, this, they're created. I mean, God created something that was perfect. You know, sound, and the physics and the math of sound, are perfect. And I think you start with, you can, before, even on the simplest level, explaining to kids about sound waves and doing little experiments where you bang on six different substances and figure out why your knuckles give completely different pitches if they bang on your head or on the pot or on the wall or on the sofa. And you know, you, it's a game, but it's also science. Games are science. Games are how we teach science. Games are how we teach tough things, you know? And complex ideas. and then they're much more in tune. I think when you learn it, integrate it, all of this, as a younger person, it doesn't have to happen as a child. But then you expect more. You ask more questions. If, when you're six, you're already asking these questions that are really about acoustics and art and dance and literature and math, but you don't really know that's what you're doing. When you're fifteen, you're already looking for answers in all of these venues. You know? You already have a mind that's multifaceted and mosaic in quality and expects to get more than a single and simplistic answer. And so it is never too late to do this. There's plenty of adults that figure this out late and fall in love with these arts when they're in their fifties and sixties. It's never too late. I promise you that. Boy, it's great if they can get comfortable with it all early. It is great. And they want to. And they lust after it. They really do. They wake up wanting it. Until that joy is ??? child, by the world, by world events sometimes, by a relative that says shut up and stop singing, you know, stop banging, stop experimenting. Until that's killed, you know very well that a child wants to learn.
And children live musically and rhythmically. They do. They do bang on things. They do test sounds. They explore their world. And I think it's a hugely important part of what we, as parents, especially homeschooling parents do, is to facilitate that. To enjoy it with them. And you know, just have the grace to learn along with them. If you didn't' learn. You know, I learned little bits of everything. Charlotte Mason says that it's important to, for a child to, set their feet in a large room. The ability to access and experience many subjects from the masters in many different ways, and through my own education, my own education came mostly through books. And reading. Not through school. Because I had to go and find things. And for homeschooling moms, they have the ability now to go and find so many great resources at the conferences and online and everything, but some of the best things are the basic things you have at home. Your voice. To begin with. Clapping. There's wonderful clapping exercises, you know, when you and I have spoken at the Great Homeschool conferences, on literature and music, and you've done that clapping exercise with the audience, just seeing how energized and delighted this whole room full of adults is, by the time you've worked, you know, worked with them a little bit. It's an amazing thing to see. And it makes me realize how much I missed as a child. How much my boys missed. But we got tastes, and getting those tastes takes people further. So for parents that think they are too late, you're not too late. You know, like there's a what I consider a ladder of literature, that you start with nursery rhymes and folk stories and legends and, you know, fairy tales, and all of those things. And you work up to classical literature over a period. So with music, children start with songs and other things, I'm assuming, and then work up. But, you mentioned the movie scores. I think that's... I think that's essential. But what if the in-person musical experience that we had that was one of the most memorable was going to Peter and the Wolf as...when my boys were young. What can a musical like Peter and the musical?
It is a musical. It's just not active on the stage. It is. It's a great example. it's not an oratorio because it's not set in that setting and in that form, but it is, it's exactly... and there are words of a narration. It's an opera without people on stage. You could, it's been turned into operas. It's been turned into ballets. So you call it a musical, you're right. You know?
And I...so, aren't there good recording that parents should have? Do you have recommendations in your materials, on your website? Do you have a ladder of that music for recommendations? ??? The new songbook, which I'm really excited about.
We do. We have something called the Child's Treasure of Musicthat we just came out with this summer... this summer. I mean, I don't know what time of the year it is now. This spring. And it goes from babyhood, basically, through twelfth grade, and it is...we've created a sort of a ladder. I love what you called a ladder of literature, a ladder of music, and it's suggested pieces. It doesn't have to be those pieces. And I discuss a little bit about each one very briefly, both in prose and then we added these little podcasts, three, four minutes about each piece. And we were linking you to good performances.
And that's part of our circle of scholars, so if you're online with us, you can get to that anytime. We have some other things like that, but the Child's Treasury of Music, up through twelfth grade, that is one of those things that I would call, as it...an organized, you don't have to do the work, we've already done it. Which is what you need when you're homeschooling, especially all these parents. Look, there's gonna be a whole mess of people for all kinds of reasons that are gonna be homeschooling in the fall that would have never imagined it, even four months ago. And they are, especially when you read the rules for restarting the brick and mortar schools. There's gonna be a lot of people who are gonna say, we're not doing that. You know, this is very complicated time. And I think it's incumbent on everybody in, I mean, our audience right now, with GHC, which is a great, great community of people who are supportive and loving and caring and working together and have been for years. And you gotta get out and help all these new people who did not expect ever to be doing this. Share what you know. Tell them how scared you probably were when you started. Tell them you can't do it wrong. You really can't. You know, because your passions, your, the material is so good. The curriculum is so good. All the things you create, Janice, and you can't go wrong with stuff like this. Which, I'm off your topic, I know, but really, this is a very exciting time. And a piece like Peter and the Wolf, you know, we had these things on our website. Yes, we do. Come get on with us. We have three-month membership, if you go to ProfessorCarol.com/ghconline, you'll see our landing page for the GHC conference. And lots of talks. Our classical education on hinge panel, with ??? Those are fun. And you'll see a special offer. We've got a free month and you can explore everything, and 25% off and free shipping. We've got all that going on. Again, ProfessorCarol.com/ghconline. And if you have trouble, write me at [email protected].
But whatever it be, what I wanted to say is that, at this particular time, we can give you suggestions, but things tend to lead to other things. Let's say you love Peter and the Wolf. You get on Amazon, or you get on another site. And you find out that there's tons of famous actors, ??? own grown children, famous retired ballerinas, political people who've done pieces like that. And you say, I like these narrative pieces. Then you find out about pieces like Lincoln portrait, a little more sophisticated. And you find out great diplomats and statesmen and politicians and admiral politicians. And people...the president of our college once came...or university, SMU, came and did it with our college orchestra, because it's a noble thing to read Lincoln portrait.
And you find out about other pieces that are narrated and...I mean there's this whole...one door opens another door. You know that. You read a short story about an author and the next thing you know, you're in love with everything that author wrote, right? So the resources will help, and you'll find them. And if you need help, write me, write you, right? And this..so many people that want to help. That was all over the place.
Yeah. I... that's why I'm so happy to see a lot of the people who've had a couple of months of accidental homeschooling are looking around and saying, you know, this could be interesting. I like being with my kids. And what else can we do? So, you know, it's a challenging thing to start, and as you say, you have, you've got tons of great stuff. Oh my goodness. I remember when I first encountered you. Or when I first heard of you, was when my oldest son found you at one of the homeschool conferences, and he spent, I don't know how long, at your booth. And was so excited about discovering music that he bought it with his own money.
That is sweet. What a sweet boy. I didn't know you yet. You see? He brought me to you. This was so great.
right. And so, your curriculum affected his life for sure. And it gave me some clues, I didn't, I haven't seen the whole thing. I am not a very good watcher, I'm a better listener than a watcher, and I'm a better reader than a listener. Which I think you probably find across your audiences. You're going to have the ones that are the watchers. But for most kids, having video and the sound and everything, is absolutely, absolutely wonderful. But, one thing I wanted to touch on, for parents who are thinking of including more actual music education in their curriculum, we've talked about the power of music and the way it helps kids learn and stuff. The singing and all of those things. Is it true, and my impression with writing, I'll just take it to literature and writing, and ask if the same thing is true for music. When a student learns by copying a good writer when they copy many good writers over time, and they experiment with forms of writing based on what the masters have done, do they... does that student tends to be a better writer than a student who just tried to write things that they make up out of their own head, ultimately? Now, as a student is practicing music, what are they doing? Are they practicing music from the masters? Are they copying the masters? Are they performing the masters, I guess would be a better word than copying, obviously. Is that how they learn or do they start small with the songs? Do they do scales? Lots and lots of scales only until they've mastered scales? Cause I've had a piano teacher that thought you should do scales only until you really got the scales. And...
I should say that Dante has a ring in hell for people that...although, at a certain level, see that could be true at a certain level. You could take an advanced pianist, drop him into some European master class, where a great master teacher says, you know what, the next four weeks, this is what you're doing. ??? You're doing this, for a specific technical issue. For children... that's tough. You poor dear.
I think that's why my piano lessons only lasted a few years because it was...I was not seeing the joy of the music. I was not able to play and sing. Or, you know, whatever. So, how would you start a child on piano or any other instrument? How would you start them learning music? Do you teach them all the theory first and show them how to read music on a piece of paper?
That's two different...you've got four questions going there.
Aw, I know!
It's like, perfect for me, but...it's the issue of whether kids take...can take applied lessons. Should be. It's always good to have a little bit of it. And it's not on an instrument singing. It's just as powerful, and sometimes even more so. Often more so. Then there's the issue of we're trying to produce...somewhat aware grownups who understand what goes on in learning to play everything from the organ to the banjo and has an appreciation of that. A tiny number of whom will go on to become advanced players. And some of them should. And some of them, you know, that's one side of the story. You know. Should my kid take lessons? Can we afford it? Is it gonna fit in our schedule, our lives? What if they're no good? If they do a year, is that still viable? Yes. What if they do two years and then they quit. That's still viable. What if they're pretty good and they keep going, and then that's great. What if it turns out they're fabulous and they really need to push this thing. Fabulous. That's one side.
But more important, more important, is that they become listeners and ‘understanders’ of music. That they become appreciators of music. and there the task is different. And you can't replicate the compositional...I mean, music students who get to be advanced in their skills in their high school levels, they begin to do some conscious copying of Bach and things to learn how to write a few then learn how to do these complicated things. Yeah, they are complicated actually. And yes, good compositions, good students, will parody the masters and will... you know, we have assignments. I remember being asked to write minuets and write a ??? in the style of this, in the style of that. That's an advanced theory or a beginning compositional exercise. But more interesting, and that's for some kids, perfect. But more interesting for most people is learning to hear what's going on in music. And that's the equivalent of you having a classroom or a homeschool of kids where you say, I want you to try to write sounding like Edgar Allen Poe or Emily Dickenson. If they learn to hear what's going on in a piece of music, whether its a violin solo, a suite or cello by Bach, or whether it's a mall or symphony through repeated hearings, through coming to hear the timbre of the English horn. And the trombone, and the viola. Becoming to hear the shape of something, a melody that might take four minutes to unfold. The chord progression in Wagner that might take four minutes just to get to the third harmony. As opposed to Bach where you got... and three chords have gone by before you can even breathe. You know? So, I mean, learning style, getting familiar with that whole context, and the mechanics that go into music and getting some vocabulary. That's what we do in discovery music. That's what we do in Music Appreciation, literary appreciation. That's where I wanna see people putting their effort. If their kid's gonna end up as a musician, either pretty good on a junior high school level. Pretty good on a high school level. Very good on a college level. Maybe even professional. Super. But that's not what we need more of. We got a lot of first violinists in this world. We do not have enough people filling the audiences. How was that?
I love it. Because you proved what my theory was, of course, same as writing. If you learn just enough to understand patterns and see what's being done and how it's being done and why it's being done, and you start understanding it, you start seeing the story of it, you remember it. You feel it. It becomes part of you, and this is where music helps to shape the soul. I think Plato has such a good quote about music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue. And, you know, I just, I feel like music does shape us. Literature shapes us. And to learn what is good. You have to learn the why, the stories, the sound. What, why are certain things done? You mentioned the dissonance of twentieth century, some twentieth-century music, but there's a reason. It's a story. It's a reflection of reality of truth. And it's important. So, I love that, and why do you think it works to learn a little bit about that? Do you think it's just because it's engaging the body and the brain together? I mean, pedagogically speaking, do you think it's just, you know, encouraging the students to think about the structure? And the why? Do you think that's part of what helps make it stick? What makes whatever they're learning stick? Do you think it's what it makes it comprehensible?
Well, the music does affect the body. I mean, you were talking about when we were doing these clapping exercises to catch rhythms that we used in some French music about Spanish...a Spanish song...in that case, it was Don Quixote. Clapping with...it is, it involved the whole being. I mean what is music's first breath? Breathing. What's the first thing you do when you're born? You cry. And you cry with pitch. What do babies do even when they can't lift their heads? They can still produce pitch. What do little children do? They, you know, so the breathing in and coming out with sound is the first...it's really what we do. So it is absolutely, with any child who is ordinarily healthy, singing is an absolutely normal basic expression of emotion and life. Period. It's why we're told in the Bible, to sing. You know? Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, we're told to sing our praises. And what that's all about.
But, I also think, you know, music...why do people tap their feet? Why do people, you know, get excited? You can do this with children. You can do it with older people. What happens when you go into a nursing home and everybody's in a very sad, depressed state and you put on some... everybody's moving in the wheelchair, you know? And moving better than they've moved in fifteen years. So, what happens there? Why does that happen? It kinda doesn't matter why it happens. It absolutely happens. It's meant to happen. We, a child goes to that which sparkles. A child reaches for that which is velvet and which is...you know. I mean, we are attracted by beauty and by form and by motion, and by sound that is who we are in created in the image and likeness of God. Period. That's what we do. You know? Just as the wind blows through the trees, this is what we do. Water rises when it rains. This is what we do.
So, how you channel it and whether it goes through the saxophone or whether it goes through a Ukrainian folk dance group, or whether it goes through learning how to draw with pen and ink, or whether it goes through singing in the community chorus. Or, learning to play the...it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. It's that we get to do it. And that, you know, a child who would brought up without stories, can you imagine? You know, Peter Pan. We have the lost boys. We don't have any stories. Do you remember that? When Peter...to get Wendy. It's the saddest...it's one thing that they were the lost boys. I know it's a story. But we don't have any stories. Just think of that.
Those, that's darkness. That's no longer life. So, you know, it is never a frill. It is never an extracurricular activity. You know, pocks on their houses, the system of education that has created as such, fortunately, you and I, no matter what we didn't get, we were not brought up with that idea. Right?
I'm so thankful. I just, I am so thankful. There has been music and stories in my life from the very earliest days, very simple home with my grandparents. Christian home, lots of Christian music. Just a love of God. But a love of what He gave us in music, in the arts, and beauty. The appreciation of all of it. and it's something that I hope our listeners take away, is that music and the arts, literature, and stories, they're not frills, They're not extras. They're not things that you do when you finished language arts and math. They're in language arts and math. They're part of the whole education you wanna give your children. A head, heart, and hand education. And I have suggestions for things to read, of course, and my excellence in literature curriculum. And you have your circle of scholars and discovery music.
So, for, as we start to wind down, we're getting toward the end of our time, what book or what piece of music, or what author or composer would you turn to for comfort during a difficult time? Since we are in kind of an unusual sort of time with this quarantine, and things that we're going through as a society, or as the world, really, is there anything particular you turn to in the musical world?
Well, I would have done something different in my twenties or in my teens, or in my thirties, you know. I mean, it changes as we grow. That's one thing. I happen to be in love with opera, which I wasn't for the first couple decades of my life, didn't even...I thought I hated it actually. But that's cause I knew nothing about it. You know, that's what you do when you're a kid. I don't like that, and you never tasted it, so there you go.
And so I think one of the things about, and actually I'm doing an opera boot camp by the time that'll be over by the time this probably reaches the audience, but I've been doing these, a lot of opera free webinars, and symposiums. Because the net's been streaming all these... now, a lot of them are not necessarily for families, because a lot of the modern theatre productions are done in a pretty grown-up way. Which, but there are plenty that are, and I have been picking some and doing these recorded it, and you know, you'll find those on our website if anybody...maybe we could put a couple resources down on the page for your page, ??? I'm going to be doing some more. I'm doing an opera boot camp. All part of a new course called A Night at the Opera that we're just starting to create.
But for me, and with the kids, we've been doing, we watch ??? which is about this girl who's a sleepwalker, you know, it's in the early nineteenth century. It's all the way a little silly story, but that was a big thing people were looking at back then and the psychology of dreams and all that. That was new science, you know. We did a new production of Hansel and Gretel which was so very different, and I don't like a lot of the new productions, but this one was so well done and so interesting. All based around food, you know. And then they take you backstage and show you how they made these fake and real foods and how much jelly's in this so that it wiggles. And it was so cool.
So, I mean, and we've been doing a lot fo listening to a lot of opera. I do think that is one of the greatest ways to introduce ??? we've got a six and a four-year-old here. You know, talking about adult subjects that they either do or don't perceive with gorgeous music, gorgeous orchestral sounds, drama, color, motion. So, I would say for me, that is where I go. But I would not have said that in a different time in my life. I would ??? I would've said the Beethoven violin concerto. Which is one of my favorite pieces? I would have said folk music at one point, which is one of my favorite things. You know, I would have said Jimmy Rogers and Ernest Tubb. I would have said all kinds of things. And we grow in our tastes. I mean, nobody stays with just the same favorite author, usually, very long, right? ??? simple thing. It's a living thing. I don't that answers any questions you know, I mean, we're just saying swing music. I would have said Benny Goodman, you know? Get some Benny Goodman out. Get some swing music, go show your kids some sugar bug stuff on YouTube and watch the little ones run around and jump around and they will... you can't listen to big band and not be happy. You know? Not mindlessly happy. But uplifted.
So there's so much to say. There.
Then that's the way I've experienced books and music too. That, the thing that nourishes your soul at the right season of life. And it helps so much to have an overview of that music so that you can know what your soul is craving at that very moment.
And, of course, to also not say, I don't like that before you know anything about it. I think that's a lot of people's response to opera. I did not realize, to me, at this point in my life, it's the queen of the arts. It has everything. The beautiful music and the scenery and the story and, oh my goodness. Anyways, that...I just, I feel like, knowing a little bit, enough, about music to start choosing what nourishes your soul, and then you can build from there. That's small, build.
But, we are almost out of time. So, ??? and I always learn something new, or...
Oh, Janice, it's lovely to be with you, and you know, I have never...we're terrible at conferences, because after that twelve hours on the floor, you and I go out to find something to eat, and then we talk another three hours, it's bad. Isn't it?
It is. Boy, I'm missing it this season. I can't wait. We can be together again, but for our listeners, just remember that the stories are there, art and music, are essential, and they're teaching your whole child. So, Carol and I wish you joy in the journey. You can connect with Carol at ProfessorCarol.com and with me, Janice Campbell, at EverydayEducation.com.
Thank you for listening and goodbye.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast and, if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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