08 April 2009

Art and Music

This painting, Birch Forest, is by one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt. You may know his famous "the Kiss."

One thing that tends to be put on a back burner in homeschooling is art and music. I took Art History in my senior year of high school, and most people never take it and do not lack in any way. I didn't take art classes after 8th grade-- in private school before that I think we had it once or twice a week. My kids do crafts which I think is quite different than art. When I think crafts, words like glue, popsicle sticks, markers, fingerpaint, oj lids, beads, macaroni, pipe cleaners, paper towel tubes, etc. come to mind. When I think art, I think skills: linoleum carving to make prints, pointillism, watercolor brush techniques, collage, clay; perspective, realism, lighting, etc.

We have a bin full of craft supplies. I let the kids have at it periodically. I don't have the knowledge to teach skills beyond my 8th-grade-level attempts. (I can draw a cube. It occurs to me that people don't have to be drawn from the front. I know that in real life, everything doesn't have a black outline. I can cross-hatch. I know that it is possible to watercolor without dripping. That's about the extent of my skills.)

When it comes to music, I can da-da-da-da-Dum! a few bars of famous classical music. I can recognize composers/musicians names in a lineup, be it Miles Davis or Mozart. I could classify songs into groups by genre, jazz, classical, acoustic and such. But ask me what a melody, harmony, bridge, tempo-- all the vocab for music-- I have no idea. When I met my poor husband I listened to pop top-twenty kind of music. I played the clarinet in fifth grade, so at some point I knew CDEFG or whatever (in my head I'm thinking, now is that the acronym for the Great Lakes? Central American countries? The planets?!). At our house you can tell who is home by what music is on. If it's K-LOVE, its me. If it's an iPOD or reggae or that awful (in my opinion) keyboard-created repetitive stuff... its James.

I have spent a few years looking at art curriculum that say (with great certainty) that a mom with no experience can teach their budding artist some skills. There are in-depth art history courses for the elementary age student out there. There are 'play the violin with no teacher and no experience' manuals. There are a million CDs about composers and their music. There are pop-up books that teach scales and notes and all the music vocab. These product look great. They give me some guilt. And I wonder about what my kids are missing.

Well I have a solution for my own family. I got a few CD-ROMs that the kids can do instead of sitting at the PBS Kids website. This way, I can feel like they are getting an intro to art and an intro to music, on their own, instead of mindless kid computer time. Our school order is coming soon. Excuse me while I shriek in anticipation! I'll let you know what we think of the computer games after they are tested.

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