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Do the holidays already have you desiring to start a simple life? 

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  TOS October 2012


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 Glen Burnie, Maryland




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November 21, 2012

The Value of Music Instruction at All Ages



Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family


What is the value of music instruction? I am sure you have heard the research that music instruction is very good for the brain and helps children with other academic subjects. For that reason alone, it is worth making a goal in your child's education. But there are other reasons you may or may not have thought about. Let me share a couple of stories from my little homeschool.

Jonathon is 21 and has only had a small amount of music instruction. However, all through his life, he loved to listen to and especially sing loudly his favorite songs. He wasn't always very communicative, but he could sing! He enjoyed being in a choir and still loves to belt out a tune. Singing was/is his outlet. He now enjoys manipulating music on the videos he edits and he does a beautiful job.


Christopher was nine years old when he started music lessons. He was constantly active and we thought music instruction would help keep him still and quiet and concentrating for a few minutes a day. It was just what Christopher needed. We found a teacher who taught him to play worship hymns and choruses. These went deep into Christopher's heart, and he is still a lover of worship ten years later at nineteen. Music was and is a huge blessing in his life.


Hannah had sensory issues and music soothed her overstressed brain. With Asperger's tendencies, music helped her focus on her chores or schoolwork as she would keep headphones on with Christian and classical music specifically chosen. She was able to concentrate on her schoolwork only if she had music playing. Otherwise, every other distraction came through all her other senses until she would experience overload. She also needed help with fine motor skills, and we prayed for a way to help her. Playing the guitar was an answer. Her uncle Bill gave her a guitar and she taught herself the major chords. This year, she has been taking guitar lessons from one of the worship leaders at church and has progressed greatly. This has really helped her fine motor skills improve as she has had to concentrate on her hands and fingers. Now at seventeen, worship is a daily part of her routine and she has written a couple of beautiful songs. Music was the answer to several prayers for this child as well.


Joshua (14) and Caleb (12) are also playing instruments. Joshua plays the piano; he started by learning worship chords, and now is learning to read music. Caleb plays the accordion. Caleb was praying about which instrument to play, and he was so blessed to find the accordion as he didn't want something "normal." His teacher is a wonderful Christian man who also teaches his students about evangelism and music. He shares how music draws people in and opens their heart and mind in a way no other method can. Music is welcome almost anywhere and people will stop to listen. It is an avenue to spread the good news.


So, yes, music instruction is valuable for all ages, and for a myriad of reasons. As you search for what is best for your child, ask the God Who loves music to give you His wisdom. Hear Him sing over you:


"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." Psalm 32:7.


"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." Zephaniah 3:17.



TOS Senior Editor  


P.S. Our Schoolhouse Expo next Thursday is about music and voice training! It's free to attend! Check it out: 



Watch your Inbox this Friday for a Black Friday like you've never seen from The Old Schoolhouse  before! Enjoy great Discounts & Specials you'll want to jump on fast--Open it quick--arriving this Friday!


Sponsor Article


Visionaires Music Academy

The traditional route of learning music through an instrument or voice can be difficult (but not impossible) when a student has special needs. However, there is more to music education than private lessons. Below are some ideas from our Frugality Forte article that could easily be adapted to students with special needs.

  • Music History: If you can, locally take a trip to somewhere with musical significance. Or there are some great DVDs on music history like the Ken Burns series. However, regarding content, preview everything because some music history/figures can have sordid past.
  • Music Appreciation: I always enjoyed having my students watch My Fair Lady or Singing in the Rain and then developing worksheets for them to complete. Especially Singing in the Rain since it mixes music, dance, and the historical moment of sound becoming integrated with movies. It is great to learn about 1920's fashion, cars, and the talkies.
  • Ethnomusicology: Learning about another culture can be a great musical experience. Studying the steel drum (Trinidad/Tobago), African High Life, Peking Opera, or Russia Balalaika Music (The Man Who Knew Too Little anyone?) can be a lot of fun and pique interest in further study in music down the road. The internet/YouTube can be a great resource for ethno musicological studies.

Also, depending on the students situation, our Recorder Rock class is an easier way to learn an instrument. The 6 month program can be easily adapted. Just let us know what your situation is and we can help you alter the instruction. I hope this article gave you some ideas, and I want to encourage you to keep teaching! Homeschooling is worth it.


God Bless,


Jarrod Bell is the Founder and Director of Visionaires Music Academy, a ministry/academy in one. 


Visit for the  full article. Visionaires

Music Academy has rolling enrollment. You can enroll in classes a few times throughout the year. VMA has the following courses open:


Get Me Started™

Beginner's piano course for 7th-12th


The Musician's Brain™

A different type of ear training course for all musicians wanting to enhance their abilities.


Recorder Rock™

An instrumental course that uses an academic recorder to teach music. Great to test the waters for a more expensive instrument. (4th grade+)


For all courses, visit For closed classes, sign up to receive notifications when the classes open. 


Advertisement Corner


She didn't want to practice, fighting it nearly every day.


She certainly didn't want to go to an all-day, music history and appreciation-filled, violin-based workshop, but Mom kept insisting (moms are always so smart), and Dad took her, and eight hours later could not drag her from the premises. There was an optional banquet and mini-concert afterward. My daughter, 10, would not let us leave early. I was exhausted from a long week, but we stayed. She played with her group, and she talked about the day all that night and for the next few days--and she's had a renewed zeal to play ever since. That was six weeks ago. She learned a lot of basics, and the power of the instrument and the ability to make it do all sorts of magical and just plain fun things! The same basic song could be played in an Arabian (a bit sultry) version, Antarctic (brrrr!) version, Old West (clippity-clop) version, and any number of other versions! Like I said, fun, fun, fun.

It's why has Joy Sikorski teaching Music-Voice lessons for the entire family through her patented The Whole Family is the Student (WFS) approach--we have 10 months of Joy's lessons archived on the site as of December. And it's why we have Jerry Jennings in his third month of teaching Beginning Guitar.


Joy is an award-winning composer, educator, and performer

(check out who teaches music all over the country. Her lessons have taught the value and self-confidence in realizing the power of your own voice, appreciating some of the classical composers, appreciating ballpark (yes, ballpark!) and Easter-themed music, and lots more. As she has said, music impacts every area of learning. Its presence is felt in our Schoolhouse Dailies--Renaissance music in Simply Shakespeare, patriotic music in Everyday Easels, and the history of songs and their composers woven through This Day in History.


 Jerry's lessons started with the basics--how to hold the guitar

and what a fret is--and slowly he added chord after chord for our students, and taught them cool little introductory songs like "Two Lonely Chords," "Beach Rider," and "Jump the Gun." Check out for much more of Jerry's work.

At, we have all the basics: writing, history, geography, literature, science, and more. But we also have lots of electives, like music. Because music has power, and music changes lives. 


It's as easy as Point. Click. Teach. 


Bob Irvin Executive Editor 

The Familyman

Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries 

I was in school band . . . played the baritone saxophone. Got married, had eight kids, wore out a couple stereos from non-stop listening but am too tired to have all our kids play an instrument or take music lessons. That's just the way life is.


If all your kids play the violin, great! If your kids can't carry a tune in a bucket, great! Quit feeling guilty about it and get on with living and enjoying life.


One way to enjoy life and your family in the coming month is to have family advent nights, and I just know you want to order our Craft Kits. Family Advent Nights are my kids' favorite part of Christmas (besides opening presents, of course). We pick one night of the week to light one of our advent candles, read Scripture together, read one of our fun Christmas stories, and then eat a snack (You could even have one of your kids play a Christmas song on their instrument). And we always start with a simple Christmas craft that one day will become a cherished heirloom of our family.


Thinking up the crafts and gathering all of the materials can be costly, time-consuming, and a hassle. So, to make it as easy as possible for you to have family advent nights this year, we've put together four tried-and-true crafts that are sure to be a hit with your children.


Each kit has all you need (except the glue) to make four different crafts (one per week). And you can't beat the price of only $8 per kit (That's only $2 per craft). So if you have four children, you would order four kits. We'll ship them right out to you so you're ready and waiting for your Family Advent Nights. Order yours now!


Be Real and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!




Deep Blue Kids Bible

Brighten Your Family's Christmas with . . .

Diana Waring
Diana Waring

Relational Homeschooling


Dear Friends,


Happy Thanksgiving! May your hearts be filled with as much laughter as your families are filled with food. And, can I give a quick word of advice about being the mom during this holiday? Thursday won't be perfect, no matter how hard you try, so take yourself off the hook right now and begin enjoying the experience.


Now that we have that settled, I want to tell you a story that has to do with today's topic. Years ago, I met a phenomenal guitar player named John Standefer. For several years, we were in a partnership that produced American folk music tapes and books. Well, one day, John started telling me about how he got his start in music. As I recall, it goes something like this:


"Growing up in Texas, our family would gather together every Sunday evening on my grandparents' porch to play and sing.  There were lots of musical instruments to choose from, and even from an early age, I was encouraged to join in the fun.  So, in that homespun setting, I developed a love for music and had an opportunity to learn to play lots of different instruments in a great environment. . . ."


John's story is one of the most delightful examples I've ever heard of what happens when a child experiences music as a normal part of life . . .


Hearing this story when my children were very young, I was inspired to begin early teaching them music. We did music in a way that was not artificial, or "school-ish," but was part of our everyday life.  For us, that meant whiling away the hours driving cross country by spending a lot of our time singing and listening to music. We listened to different styles of music and sang various styles of songs. We started each day with singing songs of praise and worship, developing more and more four-part harmonies, and even occasional rhythmic sound effects!  Rounds like "Row, row, row your boat" develops a child's ear for harmonies, so we often sang them.  This led eventually to really gorgeous tunes, like "Dona nobis pacem," and hysterical ones, such as "My dame had a lame tame crane." We also found folk songs, like "The Erie Canal" and "Tis the Bean," to be pretty easy and often quite funny, so American folk tunes became a staple. Inspired by street musicians we heard in New Orleans, we also sang hymns like Amazing Grace, which lent themselves well to vocal improvisation and rich harmonies. My children were receiving "musical instruction" throughout their lives, but it felt like music among us was done for the sheer joy of it. 


And that, my friends, is what I want to leave you with.  Whether you choose to sing it, listen to it, attend concerts of it, or play it, consider how you can make music something so integral to your family's everyday experience, that your children will find delight in this life-enriching pursuit.


Remember, stay relational.




P.S. I don't know if you noticed it or not, but our website was hacked and unavailable for a matter of weeks.  We were finally able to resolve the situation by moving our site to a different server, so it's up and functional again! The cost to us in lost sales was significant . . . so, may I suggest that my fast-paced, wildly enthusiastic and highly entertaining world history CDs would be a delightful Christmas present for adults and children, for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. (Be sure to watch the videos about the history CDs on this webpage.) And, if you place any order with us from now through Christmas--and identify yourself as a reader of THM in the "comments" field--we will include a FREE copy of "The First Christmas," an audio CD where I set the historical and cultural scene for the birth of Jesus, followed by a chronological and dramatic reading of this world-changing event.  We would be ever so grateful for your business in this season! Thank you. 



Deep Blue Kids Bible
Help Your Kids Dive Deeper and Grow Stronger with the new CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible! Traveling with the Deep Blue Crew, your kids will find answers to their biggest questions through colorful, interactive, and just plain fun features. Find out more and download your free sampler at: 



Schoolhouse Freebie

This week's free resource is a color matching worksheet. You'll find a wide variety of lessons, activities, and printable pages in



Amazing Online Piano Lessons! 
Peery Piano
Combines online video with an engaging one-on-one connection. It's the easy, fun, and affordable way to learn piano!

Raising Real Men  

Hal & Melanie Young


Remember last week when we talked about how one of our little ones couldn't fall asleep in the car unless a Strauss waltz was playing? It's amazed us how much even our youngest children have benefited from being exposed to good music.


How early is too early? We're not much into the super-kid fads that try to make a child smarter by doing special activities or playing certain music, but we've noticed that our babies are often quickly calmed by a particular hymn Melanie sang a lot when she was pregnant with them. From the beginning (or starting right now) make sure excellent and God-honoring music has a place in your home.


Spend the early years singing songs and hymns and playing classical music. Most people think classical music is boring because they've never become familiar enough with it to hear the complexity. A homeschool choir director once said to us, "I don't know what you're doing at home, but your children seem to understand and appreciate music so much better than most." Melanie had to confess to her that they hadn't really had any formal instruction, just lots of exposure to good music.


Learning the hymns of the faith will enrich their lives. Buy some hymnals or print them off the internet, but start singing hymns as a family. We often try to teach a new hymn (at least new to the younger set) every week, singing the whole thing every day, and explaining one of the verses each day, too. Those old hymns are full of meaty Scripture and encouragement. Our adult children have said they're so thankful those are hidden in their heart. The whole family can learn together, too.


Incorporating music into your holidays will build strong memories--and more. Every year we have a Caroling Party that our children look forward to all year. Have you ever thought about caroling at Christmas--it's the one time of year that you can knock on a stranger's door, loudly sing the gospel to them, and have them respond, "Could you do just one more?" What an easy way to share the love of Christ! And whenever our children hear those carols in their lives, they'll remember our happy times at home.


Music can be refreshment to our souls. Whether we do formal instruction or not, our children of all ages will benefit from good music at home.


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, friends! Why not sing "All Creatures That on Earth Do Dwell," (The Pilgrims probably sang it to the tune of the Doxology and "We Gather Together" (which they almost certainly learned in their sojourn in the Netherlands) with your children this week?


Happy Thanksgiving!


Hal & Melanie


Have you talked with your children about the Pilgrims this week? Are you ready to get everything on the table tomorrow? If not, our downloadable book, We Gather Together, can help you with both!


And if you want to hear more about how to put on a Caroling Party, including printable carols with links to the music, get our downloadable book, Christ-Centered Christmas!



You Can Teach Music in Your Homeschool! 
Time: November 29th 7pm (4pm Pacific) 

  "Joy Sikorski speaks on Voice 101: 

The Crucial Need for Quality Vocal 

Training and What You Can Do About It"


Joy Sikorski is an award winning film composer, author, conference speaker, performer and teacher. She raised her three children (now adults) in a log cabin she helped build in Alaska and was one of the pioneers of homeschooling in that state, flying to remote areas to give parents and students the knowledge and encouragement they needed to succeed.
  Visit Joy's sites, 
and  for tips and insights about the importance of your voice and the voices of your children. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   


We will have a vendor workshop from 
New Song Music Studios. 
Music for Little Learners is a curriculum created with the homeschool parent in mind. Creative teaching tools make learning fun!  Innovative lessons open doors to literature, math, writing and more. Your children will know how to 
read notes, play songs and identify music symbols. Come 
to the Expo to see our lessons in action. Visit for more information. 
Join our Free Online Schoolhouse Expo on 
Thursday, November 29th, at 7 p.m. EDT! 

(6 p.m. CDT, 5 p.m. MDT, 4 p.m. PDT) 


Check out all the details at


Reserve your FREE seat now---only 1000 available! 





Creation Revolution     


"What would you do if you looked up into the sky and saw a creature flying overhead that had wings as large as those of an F-16 fighter jet?" 

Read more in the article How Did Giant Pterosaurs Take Off and Land?


Gratefulness or Griping?
TOS Article

 Read the article Gifts of Gratitude

 in the latest issue of

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
TOS Announcement

Discover the best homeschool resources with 
The Old Schoolhouse Directories: 
Contest Corner 

For the month of November, 2012  


Andrea Carter and the San Francisco Smugglers


The fourth book in the Circle C Adventures series, Andrea Carter and the San Francisco Smugglers, continues the story of a young girl, Andi, growing up in the San Joaquin Valley of California. We last left Andi in the fall of 1880. This story picks up in the winter of 1881 as the excitement of a flood in her community quickly draws you into the story within the first three pages. This book continues in similar size and style as the others in the series: a 5 x 8 inch glossy soft cover book of 138 pages and 18 chapters, plus a Historical Note. References to Andi's previous experiences will likely lead a first-time Circle C Adventures reader to her other books and will refresh the memory of seasoned fans. The storyline stands alone and is not dependent on the other books in the series. Although the series is enjoyable reading designed for students in the "tween" years, those in upper-elementary grades and lower teenage years will also find them enjoyable. Susan K. Marlow continues her trend in quality reading as she upholds family values, references the Bible, and offers a wonderful glimpse into the life of a Christian girl during the 1880s. Although the series is not written exclusively for home schools, it is written by a home-schooling mother who provides clean, quality reading materials for children. There are no additional materials required to enjoy this book, but readers should not miss the opportunity to download and print the free PDF Enrichment Guide available from her website, The unit study of 38 pages is freely available and expands the educational value of the book considerably. 

(. . .)


Read the rest of this review here.


You can win this book and the lapbook!



Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "SF Smugglers" for a chance to win* the book and lapbook for your homeschool!
Schoolhouse  Apps


*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse
Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the November Contest Corner contest running from 
November 1, 2012, to November 30, 2012. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse
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