Monday, August 13, 2012

Learning The Beautiful Laws of Harmony - Through Singing


"The Habit of Praise.––Perhaps we do not attach enough importance to the habit of praise in our children's devotion. Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed. Hymns with a story, such as: 'A little ship was on the sea,' 'I think when I read that sweet story of old,' 'Hushed was the evening hymn,' are perhaps the best for little children. Children should be trained in the habits of attention and real devotion during short services or parts of services. The habit of finding their places in the prayer-book and following the service is interesting and aids attention, but perhaps it would be well to tell children, of even ten or eleven, that during the litany, for example, they might occupy themselves by saying over silently hymns that they know." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. III, pg. 143-144)

"The Habit of Sunday-keeping.––The habit of Sunday observances, not rigid, not dull, and yet peculiar to the day, is especially important. Sunday stories, Sunday hymns, Sunday walks, Sunday talks, Sunday painting, Sunday knitting even, Sunday card-games, should all be special to the day,––quiet, glad, serene..." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. III, pg. 144)

So, in this group of posts dealing with Charlotte Mason and music, we have been inclined to substitute Charlotte Mason's phrase, 'the beautiful laws of harmony' with the more commonly used term 'music theory.'

Though the terms are not identical in meaning, there is much overlap. As such, for the purposes of this discussion, they will, at times, be used interchangeably.

Learn 'music theory' from singing?

Yes, most of us who study the writings of Charlotte Mason know that she believed that children should be singing children's level folk songs, rounds, as well as regular folk songs, and hymns.

Mrs. Curwen, Charlotte Mason's 'go-to-musician,' specified in her teacher's guide that singing was very useful, provided the following was true:

(1) The child wants to do it, and is physically fit.

(2) That we do not worry him about it, but teach him when he is inclined and leave off when, for the time, he has had enough.

(3) That suitable music can be found.

That is utterly lovely, and it is certainly gentle and thoughtful of the child.

But how might one conclude that there is any actual 'theory' learned through the singing of children's songs or even folk songs? More than that, if one can learn some theory through singing children's songs, can one do anything to bring the child's attention directly to what they are supposedly learning? Wouldn't children end up with more of a useful 'impression' upon their hearts and minds that way?

*Could* parents even springboard from simply singing songs and move into some lightweight music theory without having any formal training? Could they do so in a 'living way'? If so, what would that look like, and how do we keep in our minds and hearts that all of that living fun is, in truth, music theory?

Well, first, since the idea of learning music theory seems a bit unclear to a good number of parents in general, let's consider three things first:

(1) What is music theory?

(2) How does music theory fit into Mrs. Curwen's piano lessons?


(3) What does Miss Mason say about folk songs and children's songs that might illuminate to us the subject of how one might learn anything of 'theory' through .... ?singing?


So, first of all,


Now let's move on to the question of Mrs. Curwen's general guidance about the study of music theory.

Mrs. Curwen highlighted the relationship of "theory" and "practice" throughout all of the lessons that she taught. This relationship of theory and practice is something that she was intent upon from the very first lesson. That relationship between theory and practice is based on this principle:

"....every lesson, from the beginning, should contain two parts; something to remember, and something to do; or, in other words, 'Theory and Practice.'"

The something to remember was theory. The something to do was to be related to the theory learned.

Mrs. Curwen went on to say that one must not 'divorce' theory from the application of that theory, "for theory, if not illustrated and fixed by practice, is a deadening and unfruitful study."

Think about it! Remember Miss Mason's teachings that ideas are seed which produce fruit - and thus there is life in them. Any music 'idea' worth investigating has life in it as well.

So often, music theory lessons take that living thing called music and cut it up into all of its bits and pieces (by analyzing it into its parts). Then the lesson typically doesn't follow that analysis up with a solid effort to put those pieces back together.

What happens to the life of music which has been taken apart during such a theory lesson? Can those types of theory lessons produce fruit in the musical life of the student?

Of course not. The 'facts about theory,' as they are typically taught in theory lessons, are not really 'ideas' according to Miss Mason's wise standard at all. Therefore, those bits and pieces are not alive - which explains why so often, those facts do not bear the fruit we would like to see them produce.

How does an astute teacher keep those parts of the music in tact and still study them? how do we keep those elements of music alive for our children while still learning about them?

First we need to understand that the ideas interwoven into the living music, those ideas which are expressed by those musical elements building on each other...., those interweavings are alive.

In order to keep those musical ideas alive, in order to help preserve those ideas long enough for them to bear fruit in our children's lives, we must not take anything apart during a lesson that cannot be put back together and used in a living way.

That very fact indicates to us the nature of music theory:

The study of Music Theory is, in essence, the study of the life in the music.


Okay, in order to illustrate how one might study some aspect of music in the context of the music itself, let's recall quickly the story of Mozart, asleep on his couch, with his little wife nearby wishing that he would wake up. What would she do? She would play a bit of music on Mozart's keyboard, and then not play the last chord! The music needs that last chord because it creates a 'resting place' for the ideas int he music to come to a final conclusion. On the other hand, the notes just prior to that resting place are...., well, .... a non-resting poing! Mozart was one who could not rest without that final resting point being put into place. Thus, when his little wife would fail to play that last chord, he would arise, fly to the keyboard, and play the last chord himself. In no other way could heart heart find rest. (quite a little trick on the part of his wife.... eh?)

Now, with that illustration in place, let's discuss something of the life force in music.

Some notes/chords in music are resting points. Some notes/chords in music are 'tension points.' Some points of tension in music are greater than other points of tension in music. The study of music theory should, in great part, result in a growing understanding of those degrees of tension.

All too often, theory lessons skirt around the study of tension and rest in music. Those lessons might occasionally provide an example or two of tension vs. rest, but not convincingly for all students. The focus of those lessons is more on the names of those parts of the music which create tension or rest, rather than helping children listen to and experience and identify tension and rest in the songs they sing or study, all over the course of time.

Let's consider, instead, what might happen if Miss Mason were asked which should come first, a study of many musical examples of tension vs. rest over the course of time, or the naming of those parts of music which create tension and rest. What do you think she would say?

here is some evidence as to her mindset on related subjects:

"A Basis of Facts.--Of the teaching of Natural Philosophy, I will only remind the reader of what was said in an earlier chapter--that there is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay, by his own observation, a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future. ..... He must be accustoned to ask why--Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him. above all, when you come to the rescue, let it not be in the 'cut and dried' formula of some miserable little text-book; let him have all the insight available and you will find that on many scientific questions the child may be brought at once to the level of modern thought. Do not embarrass him with too much scientific nomenclature. If he discover for himself (helped, perhaps, by a leading question or two), by comparing an oyster and his cat, that some animals have backbones and some have not, it is less important that he should learn the terms vertebrate and invertebrate than that he should class the animals he meets with according to this difference." (CMSeries, Vol I, pg. 264-265)

If one merely names those parts of the music which are most strongly associated with those tension points and those resting points (say, the leading tone and the dominant tone, as opposed to the tonal center), does the teaching of those names alone bring the 'life force' in the music to light? Of course not!

While musicians should and do value the terminology which is used with each other when studying the life of music, it is not the point for the young child.

Miss Mason knew that this principle is true throughout all of education.

From that we can confidently conclude that, once the idea of 'tension vs. resting points' in music has been explored in some initial examples of music, that such an idea should be attended to by the student - and observed in his own singing and/or playing on a regular basis!

That is not to say that Mrs. Curwen began her lessons at such a level. She did not. But she did bring the little bits of music which she was teaching into the light of life - into the life of music itself!


Can one learn to observe and appreciate some of these life forces (e.g. - of tension and rest) in music while simply singing? Of course one can.

Just try singing "Amazing Grace" but then leave off the last note! Really, stop and try it. You can more effectively understand this if you experience it. That is not only true of your children!

Okay, have you stopped and sung the tune, leaving off the last note? If so, please read on (but don't sing that last note....)!

That 'unfinished feeling' which you felt when you didint' sing that last note produces 'tension,' does it not?

Now, you may sing that last line again, and sing that last note this time, but not until you spend some time lingering on that second to last note - that note that emphasizes the tension.

When you do finally sing that last note this time, do you sense the resting point more fully than before? Most likely, you did. I am confident that your children are clever enough to do the same! After such lessons, they might even enjoy singing songs and leaving off that last note just to get a rise out of people. (introducing songs like, "The Song That Never Ends" in conjunction with this type of lesson is very valuable.....)

Again, Music Theory is really, in great part, the study of the relative degrees of rest and tension in the life force of music. Those different elements in music which we discussed above all lend to these degrees of rest and tension.

Back when music was first being written down, back in the middle ages, the music of the church was bent on establishing more of a sense of peace and less of a sense of tension. The composers of that day studied out those sounds which had the least tension in them, and used those types of sounds as much as possible, while excluding the sounds which evoked any significant amount of tension. Think of the music of a monastery. That music evokes peace, not tension.

Today's composers have studied out other types of things. On the one hand, because much of the music of today is being produced for film, and many of the scenes in film are filled with tension, the music of today is bent on understanding more and more how to evoke a sense of tension through the very musical force itself. On the other hand, because there are times when composers want to evoke a sense of peace, but they want to do so in a novel way which has not been used before, they have studied how to take groupings of sounds which have in the past seemed tense, and have worked with them in new ways to evoke peace and rest in spite of the inherent tension. If some of the new 'harmonies' of today's music were dropped into a measure of Bach or Haydn's music, it would clash and be uncomfortably tense. However, in different contexts, those sounds can be lush and beautiful. This illustrates just some of the remarkable flexibility of the mind of man, to be able to re-order sounds into utterly new, powerful, living ideas.

In summary: To illustrate your innate ability to grasp this idea of tension and rest, we have discussed two accessible examples: Mozart and the last chord of music, and medieval music and its contrast with music composed for films today. There are many other such simple exmaples of the degrees of rest and tension in music which can be discussed. In each circumstance, an attentive student would easily realize that those aspects of tension and rest are well within their grasp of understanding as well.

This sort of analysis is all about bringing the nature of the life of the music to light for children to apprehend more clearly. Because of that, this sort of analysis avoids all of the dangers of analysis.

A well crafted music theory lesson should explore the mechanisms of synthesis in music. When theory lessons do not do that, they have failed their long term purpose.

We must develop new and effective lessons.

For example, sort of study can often be done in relation to the singing of a song (e.g. - skipping the last note, or really listening more closely to last notes of other phrases, or even any pair of notes in the middle of a phrase).

Later, those lesson should be applied directly to the study of a scale or chord progression, or even the instrumental playing of a simple or complex piece of music.

Another type of lesson might be to simply play one chord over and over, say, one might play a C chord over and over in a pleasant way ont he guitar, while slowly singing a scale over that one chord. The student should then be listening to each tone over that chord, listening to the various degrees of tension or rest between the scale tone and the chord.

As another example, this sort of study could simply be examining the difference in sound between the 'amen' chords at the end of hymns as opposed to the chords which more typically end a hymn. (FYI, the last two to four chords in a musical idea are usually called a 'cadence.') However, just as a reminder for you few music theory lovers out there, no names (such as plagal cadence) needs to be applied for the young student at all - at least, not for a good while. Rather, the student might apply his own description of the type of tension/rest from the 'amen cadence' as compared to other cadences.

Many other examples can readily suggest themselves for lessons, and, again. As these come to mind, I will be happy to share them with you.


What priorities should we derive from this discussion thus far?

Before we concern ourselves too much with the teaching of music theory, let us learn how to more fully illustrate the life force in the music, let us learn how to better illustrate the 'putting together', or synthesis of music - at least, let us illustrate the nature of the parts that have been put together rather than taking those elements apart and divorcing them from each other. After all, we are not looking for a deadening education, but a living one.

In the meantime, let us familiarize children with many melodies which have an abundance of life in them. Those musical ideas, even without analysis, will bear more fruit than you might think, even in the 'study of music theory.'


So, on to what Miss mason says about singing children's songs, and what clues her writing might provide as to how to teach those 'elements of music' to our children in a living way!

The first use of the word 'music' in Volume I simply discusses Miss Mason's conclusion that music and math and history are not all functions of the same portions of the mind, and that changing up subjects during class time helps students to not wear out.

That particular discussion doesn't tell us much about this teaching of music theory. However, it does help us understand how nice it is to leave off math and explore some music in a living way!


As for other things which Miss Mason implied about the learning of music theory through the singing of folk songs, that's the subject of my next post.

Here's hoping this was helpful for some of you!


The 'Guiding Idea of Music' Lighting the Path of the Living Way of Music

(This post is the second in a series of posts discussing music in light of Charlotte Mason's teachings. The first post can be found here.)

Charlotte Mason's clarion call brings before us a series of admonitions which are at the same time too dear to let go of, and too dire to ignore:

To rely upon God as the author of all knowledge. Therefore.....

To rely upon God as the source of all knowledge. Therefore.....

To trust God as the master-teacher, an ever present guide for our children, the mighty counselor who is more than willing and able to minister knowledge unto them - and also unto us as we step back and be still before Him so that we may observe His teaching; teaching which He wishes to be doing in them through the miracle of fellowship with His living truths, learning about the nature of Him who establishes all knowledge as they are lost in wonder before His creation - before His living truths...., sometimes not even aware of God's active and ongoing work in their lives; yet it is His Spirit that must needs be quietly moving in the voids of their lives, bringing life into the depths of their heart......, His Spirit moving, working, preparing the proper habitat into which He can both bring and sustain life in their spirit - yes - this is the miracle of teaching Spirit to spirit. Therefore.....

To humbly step back and allow Him to guide us into knowing what little we need to do - yes, rather that we should have the opportunity first to direct our little ones to that which God Himself has established, is now establishing, or which He says He will yet establish; and then to step back and watch and see what His Spirit has to do with even the least of these, our children.

To guide only subtly, by offering our own sense of wonder for them to share with us but for a moment, and then to step back - allowing them to wander on lost in wonder themselves, lest we distract our children, inadvertently encouraging them to attend to the temporal in or around them, or worse yet, to attend more to the temporal 'us', or just the fleeting messages in mere books - for even knowledge will pass away; but rather, that our children should learn to attend more to that which is eternal, which is evidenced by that which is living in everything about them, all of those things to which He would guide them through us, that they might see the glory of His creation, and thereby see the glory of the creator, through:

......the life in nature, the life of truth and all of the living ideas therein, the life which is His church, the life in music, yes, even the living Word which illustrates that God works throughout the course of time, thus in our own time as well, and thereby understand more fully how God is at work in history past and also in the seeming abstractions of science as the children read living books which touch on these things, but most importantly, that our children might bear witness to the life in love - yes, the life in the living love of God Himself, for God is love.

"While we look not on the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:18

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." II Corinthians 5:7

Anything that we have to offer came from above. Thus, for the children to receive anything that we have to offer from us rather than from God, is for them to receive it second hand. How can that which we have received rise above and be exalted over the source from whence it came?

Rather, children should learn from the source of all - - - God Himself, who is more able to fully create in our children that life force which He intends to have wrought in their hearts, minds and souls.


But now, let's on........ from the more ethereal, to that which does indeed have built into them a miraculous power to direct our attention to that which is heavenly:

From the ethereal, to the actual learning of these ways of teaching.

The actual teaching, in this case, of the living way of music.

How do we proceed, understanding even just the simple beginnings of the life force of music, let alone, how to share the living truths therein with our children?

As we saw in the last post, Charlotte Mason insightfully discerned that the part of the parent or teacher is to guide children to the living way of learning which can only be found by the illumination of each disciplines 'guiding idea.'

Here again is Miss Mason's discussion in this matter:

"Every subject has its living way, ...... 'its guiding idea' at the head, and it is only as we discover this living way in each case that a subject of instruction makes for the education of a child. No neat system is of any use; it is the very nature of a system to grow stale in the using; every subject, every division of a subject, every lesson, in fact, must be brought up for examination before it is offered to the child as to whether it is living, vital, of a nature to invite the living Intellect of the universe." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. II, pg. 279)

What then is 'the guiding idea of music?'

"In teaching music, again, let him once perceive the beautiful laws of harmony, the personality, so to speak, of Music." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol II, pg. 278-279)

So, without many words of instruction, and in a living way, the child is to perceive the beautiful laws of harmony in order to have met the personality of music itself.

Thus we see that one is to guide the children's attention to develop first in just one little way, and then in yet another, building one little step at a time, and perhaps at some point leaving off and observing as the children ask questions for themselves and become more sure in guiding their own attention to develop still bit by bit....

..... - yes, to develop an apprehending sense of those forces of music .... , subtle or assertive as they are in their turn, both heard and felt in line or harmony, rhythm or timbre, phrase or form. All of these fascinating traits can be specifically heard in the music itself, and most happily of all, most of these traits do not even require the reading of music in order to be discerned. Best of all, none of this requires a list of stuffy definitions. The child can provide his own vocabulary to describe that which he hears more often than not. If vocabulary is provided for him, it should be done after he has fully enjoyed discerning the musical force for himself, and has done so deeply enough that what he has learned is something which he will retain in his heart. At that point, and not before, terminology may be provided for him, though when possible, for young children in particular, such terminology can wait for another day.

Once the child applies his understanding to those forces of music which have been brought to his attention, he begins to hear all music in a new way. He naturally begins to hear more of the diversity of music's various mannerisms and idiosyncrasies inter-playing with each other; dancing differently together here, wrestling against each other there, whispering one at a time on the one hand, yet joining together in force on the another. In this way, he begins to perceive more and more clearly the sense of meaning intoned in his presence.

In this way, the child comes to know the personality of music, not as the personality of some stranger across the street who is known to be a leader in the community yet is not close to many in the community. Instead, the child begins to get to know the personality of the music as one gets to know the personality of a friend whom one learns to know and trust more and more face to face - or better yet, spirit to spirit.

Friends are readily able to describe the differences and meanings of each others turn of voice, tempos of speech, timbre of voice, points of rhythmic emphasis in both speech and body language, various styles of speech, and more - all of which helps them to understand and appreciate the spirit to spirit fellowship and the ideas upon which that fellowship is based, moment by moment.

Those, who have come to understand, at least in some measure, those traits of music's personality which are born into sound by the miracle we call music, are more prepared to experience richer fellowship, spirit to spirit, with not only the ideas of the composer, but also, rich fellowship with others who are listening with them, because they are more equipped to able to take in the clear, or the subtle, the small or great, the simple or the involved ideas revealed through melody and harmony, rhythm and form, timbre and more.

Think this not to be the case? Consider the married couple, one of whom loves either the concert or the sing-along, while the other finds no meaning therein. How can this be? Is music not a universal language? Might it be true, then, that those who do not rejoice in the fellowship of music have not had their attention brought to these elements of music, yet they are those particular individuals who had been in most need of having someone do so?

Considering yet again the admonition of the epistles to encourage each other and admonish each other through song. Is that a calling only to a few, or have many missed their natural inheritance through neglect of those who could have brought them to this wonderful fellowship through music?

Instead of children being thoughtfully and surely brought into harmony with their natural birthright - a rich fellowship through music - only some children are provided the opportunity to learn more of music. Then, all too often, they work their way through the rigors of learning terms and rules of 'music theory' in a way much too detached from the music itself.

Ode to music! But, oh, that other word! Yes, that horrible word! The word 'theory'! It is so abstract. Definitions for the word 'theory' typically even include the word 'abstract.'

Of course, yes, the term 'personality' might be rather abstract as well. However, one responds naturally and joyously to a lovely personality, and one can readily identify various personality traits in most people. Yet one rarely responds joyfully to a list of ....... dry vocabulary - mere facts isolated from real meaning; and one rarely identifies the 'dominant' or 'tonic' or 'sub-tonic' of music simply because one has been told they exist.

Yes, the personality traits of various individuals are more readily described by any passer by than the traits of the personality of music.

However, music has traits of personality which can be just as readily described, and would be as readily described by the passer by, if only some blessed soul had brought the attention of the soul in the child to just some of the traits which came before him in only some of the music which he had opportunity to hear; though perhaps just a bit more yet, if that blessed soul had then encouraged the child to begin to learn to ask the music itself what other traits might be involved..., and better yet, which ideas which might be portrayed in the wonder of the web of sound!

Unfortunately, only a few blessed souls have done anything of the kind.

Instead, a sad state has arisen, and is understood more clearly by observing the results of 'music theory classes' today.

If one were to assess the number of students students of music theory who actually respond naturally and joyously to the many facets of the lovely personality of music introduced from their texts and workbooks, the results would be a bit gloomy.

Unfortunately, most 'music theory' courses emphasize the memorizing of terms and rules, with little, and at times, no emphasis on any examples of music which illustrate the terms being learned. This is in direct contradiction to the methods suggested by Miss Mason.

Because of the types of music theory lessons which are employed with students, typically, only those students who have previous to the class made inroads into perceiving the results which arise when composers employ the 'beautiful laws of harmony' enjoy the 'a-ha!' moment that comes with actually defining something they seem to have always known and loved.

Then would Miss Mason disapprove of 'music theory' being taught?

Not only did Miss Mason speak of a child meeting the personality of music through a growing understanding of the beautiful laws of harmony, Miss Mason also spoke of the usefulness of 'the theory of music,' in that the 'theory' helped the child to 'rid himself of the dreary practice.' However, this word, 'theory,' was only used in the context of Mrs. Curwen's piano method, the lessons of which are not dull and dreary. Nor does Curwen's method disassociate the 'theory' from the music itself. Rather, the music which is practiced between lesson when studying Curwen's method specifically illustrate any and all theory being studied. Such music lessons bring the child's attention to the personality of the music quite purposefully. (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol I, pg. 315)

It would stand to reason then, that in order to learn how to teach 'the beautiful laws of harmony', one would simply locate Mrs. Curwen's method and pick up where she left off, no?

Though that would be the easiest approach, other approaches have had to be considered. We do indeed have excellent access to the handbook for Mrs. Curwen's piano method. It can be found online here. However, the little musical exercises to which the handbook refers are not so readily accessed. They are likely archived in libraries and could be studied out. However, the footwork to put together such material from a significant variety of little music books, and to compile them in one place, has not been accomplished to date (not to my knowledge anyway - if you hear otherwise, pray, do tell!).

Further, Mrs. Curwen's first 'method' was something she had simply thrown together for her children. Then, later, when there seemed to be demand for others to follow in Mrs. Curwen's footsteps, a guide was put together enabling others to mimic Mrs. Curwen's success. That guide was put together nicely enough. But after it was put together, upon further review, it was decided that an entirely new set of exercises should be put together to better illustrate the principles laid out so well by Mrs. Curwen. That second set of exercises is also a bit inaccessible in great part because it is still under copyright for a little while yet, but not in print.

Thus, we are left with Mrs. Curwen's guide.

Curwen's handbook is filled with great insights. It guides a teacher into better ways of introducing 'the beautiful laws of harmony.'

Though the original intent of Mrs. Curwen's handbook was to help us to introduce those laws of harmony to students along with piano lessons, it is now being considered, (while a new set of little compositions are being prepared for a new generation of students to explore the beauty of harmony via the piano), that there are indeed other ways of introducing many of the principles behind the laws of harmony which can be explored without the aid of piano lessons.

There is no need to put off the opportunity to help children get to know the personality of music through singing and other more accessible musical activities which are quite capable of helping us explore 'the beautiful laws of harmony,' whether you might eagerly look forward with hope to the possibility of such piano lessons being composed or not.

So, finally.......

The next question which is arises is, "Where to begin?"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And Just Why are We Studying Music, Anyway? (A CM Perspective)


Ode to the questions of concerned, but busy families and teachers. Whether they are caring for their own children or students, their grandchildren, or even one or more of the children in their neighborhood, and whether those children are in public school, private school, homeschool, preschool, or Sunday school, those concerned families, teachers, and friends typically ask very related questions in order to find purposeful ways of offering a rich and meaningful life to the children in their care.

Many of these concerned individuals are interested in children's overall development. Others are simply interested in finding a way to help something in the world come alive for a child who truly needs direction in his life. Still others are specifically interested in learning how to open up the world of music to children in gentle ways.

Most of these concerned individuals would be surprised and delighted to learn how to use everyday events, with minimal effort and time, to cultivate a lifestyle which naturally grows in awareness, understanding, and appreciation of music. They can choose one or more age-old, living activities which offer surprising opportunities for musical growth in small, simple, yet increasingly powerful ways. Armed with a few simple principles, that is exactly what can be accomplished for children whether they are listening to music for worship or pleasure, or learning to pay attention to bird calls, or singing favorite melodies together, and/or etc...

Those who are interested in more formalized opportunities for their children or students, such as private lessons and/or opportunities to be involved in choir, orchestra, band, or etc., might also benefit from learning about the same types of little, enjoyable, lifestyle changes which can significantly enhance children's musical growth.

Those who are seeking to empower children in their efforts towards specific aspirations in music would also benefit from similar, gentle, lifestyle choices.

Happily, those lifestyle choices are best built upon the very same principles for any child, whatever his/her future holds.

However, before considering any specific activities which illustrate those principles clearly, it is best to start with the foundation upon which those principles ought to be built. That foundation is discerned by answering the simple question, "What is the purpose of studying music, anyway?" Then one can more effectively determine the answers to questions such as, "What must our family do?"

One can find answers to each of these questions by taking a little time to explore both the more common, day to day joys and benefits of music, as well as pondering scriptural guidance and considerations related to music. There are also the writings of Charlotte Mason to weigh, as they so often shed richer light on both the day to day considerations and scriptural considerations.


[Though there are many scientific studies which discuss the value of music in the broad scope of the development of a child, that type of information will be set aside for this discussion.]

The Warm Fuzzy, Non-Tangibles of Music

Warm Fuzzies are Nice, but How Important are They?

The warm fuzzy, non-tangibles of music are a main drawing point for many families and individuals who pursue any type of musical activity with children, whether that is simply listening to music, or it is naturally singing together, or it is anything more. However, in spite of the draw of those non-tangibles, most people believe that the nature and importance of those non-tangibles is too abstract to identify.

In the days before modern technology, those non-tangibles were understood to be important and powerful to individuals, families, worship, even schools, as well as society in general. When one felt a need to put those non-tangibles of music into play in their life, they simply made music as well as they knew how. Various members of families, religious communities, or societies as a whole have embraced music to feed their own soul, to express the depths of their heart, to simply rejoice, or release tension, or to knit hearts together at all levels of society. They used those non-tangibles to do all of these things and more, simply by making music as they moved through the day's work, times of worship, moments of patriotism, quiet times of rest, and more.

Though there were always some members of society who were better prepared than others to influence or perform music in many instances, and certainly, some individuals never felt prepared to do so at all. However, the society in general valued and employed the non-tangibles of music effectively for many purposes.

That natural outpouring of families, religious organizations, schools, and society at large is being lost to much of the developed world because there is a reliance upon technology to ###### make music for us.

Yes, people are aware of the warm-fuzzy quality of some music, the force of other music, and so on, but they believe that none of that is really definable at any level. Thus, in their minds, it is obviously not anything which can be discussed with a child - it might be alluded to, but it is never really discussed. This scenario continues on from one generation to the next, perpetuating itself; therefore, most individuals do not know how to begin to weigh them effectively when deciding how important music is for any given child. Later, when life gets busy, or when costs factor into real life, the vague sense of those non-tangibles remain too abstract to weigh.

There are some who do persevere in helping to make music more accessible for children. However, those individuals typically focus on the more obvious elements of music, such as: the text of some silly songs or spiritual songs, the beat of a march, the difference between high and low pitches, the difference between fast and slow music, or the relative loudness or softness of music. Those who are a bit more 'in the know' might actually point out the difference between music 'in two', or 'three', or 'four', etc.... A few actually help children learn to be able to sing.

All of this is good, but perhaps it is a bit like teaching the alphabet without teaching one to learn to listen to a good story attentively. (for those who are unfamiliar with the methods of Charlotte Mason, Miss Mason quite literally taught children to attend to stories more effectively, bit by bit, by having them narrate what they heard....... it is a powerful approach, and highly recommended - - - it is just one example of teaching children to pay more attention to something they already love...., and the same can be done in music...). Without learning to really listen to a good story, some of the important meaning in the story might be lost to the child.

The same is true for music. Without learning to really listen to meaningful music, some of the important meaning in the music is also lost on the listener.

Keep in mind that, though it is useful to teach children to read and write in their mother tongue at the very least, and there is a direct parallel in the teaching of reading and writing in music, that is not the subject at hand. The point of this discussion has more to do with learning to listen to music in order to discern more of its meaning than might be evident at first 'glance.'

It is the contention of this author that the warm-fuzzy non-tangibles of music really and truly revolve around the meaning of the music itself. The more fully one comprehends the meaning, the more the non-tangibles of music fill our hunger for music.

However, children are actually drawn to the warm-fuzzy non-tangibles of music much more than they are to the elements of music. It turns out that those non-tangibles are really the purpose of music, and beat, rhythm, pitch, tempo, dynamics and more merely help to define those non-tangibles from moment to moment. Of course, any truly meaningful, or living, text is capable of helping to fulfill one's hunger for those non-tangibles, but the text in and of itself is not enough, or poetry and prose would suffice.

Throughout the ages, mankind has naturally been driven to try to fill a real hunger for those non-tangibles of music. They have always done so as well as they knew how, not only by listening to the best singers and instrumentalists in any given community, but also by making music in one's own heart. The more living truth which could be packed into the music, with or without text, the more mankind's need was fulfilled. Certainly fun and silly songs fill a valuable roll for mankind - as joy and diversion are of great benefit, especially in our imperfect world, but the deep hunger of mankind calls for something much more.

Though the little objectives of beat, tempo, dynamics, and etc. mentioned above have very real value, they do not, in and of themselves, help fill one's hunger for those non-tangibles of music. Those objectives neither help develop a lifestyle of listening to meaningful music, nor do they help children become comfortable with the joy, fellowship, and even sustenance of making melody in their heart (by listening, singing, or even possibly playing an instrument), or better yet making music together with others who value living truth in music as well - - - any, or all, as an enduring lifestyle.

Certainly, not everyone has reached the point of becoming comfortable with singing. Those who have not, understandably feel unable to help their children break through into a lifestyle of singing. Many of them have even been encouraged to leave singing with their children to people who can sing well, so as not to hinder their children's musical sense. Though there is some amount of merit to that admonition, there are other considerations to weigh. Whether one learns to sing with their own children and students or not, there is a growing trend to disregard the children's need for guidance in developing a meaningful lifestyle of enjoying meaningful music. While some of their children pick up singing naturally, or are naturally inclined to prefer meaningful music, most of them never do so without intervention.

The end result is that when those families inadvertently fail to guide their children into making wise musical choices, the children's hunger for those non-tangibles of meaningful music usually goes unmet. That vacuum is all too readily filled with musical 'fast food' of a degrading nature.

The solution is to help children learn how to discern those non-tangibles of music, and then, in time, learn to use discretion when filling their need for those non-tangibles.

Sadly, most people have never really considered how to bring a child's attention to learning to discern the meaning of music, and thereby relish in the way a well crafted musical line conveys meaning to the soul. Yes, some meanings expressed in music are relatively obvious, but other meanings are more subtle, and it is the more subtle meanings which engage the heart more completely - helping children learn more fully to 'make melody in their hearts.'

In a society teeming with technology, does this distance from making music in one's own heart add to the sense that music is a spectator sport? When most people are the spectators, are they inclined to give in to the habit of 'being at the mercy of musical choices' made by those who are making music for them - especially when those who are making music for them can wrap up a package that says 'buy me - you know you want to' - whether there is any real living sustenance to the content or not? In short, who all is involved with making musical choices for children who have not developed an appreciation and love of meaningful music, and what forces are driving those choices? Which ones should your children tune in to?.... and, yes, most of them will tune in to music somewhere. What music will it be?

After all, just because someone doesn't wish to make music in one's own heart, it does not mean that they wish to give up all of those very meaningful non-tangibles of music. There is still a lingering desire for music to fill most children's hearts - adults hearts as well. What music is likely to be filling those hearts next, and why?

Because of the rather obvious answers to these questions, it is becoming increasingly important for all of us to give some thought to how or why many of us must set aside at least a little time to explore things such as 'ideas which are built into the fabric of music' let alone some basics about how those ideas are conveyed - beginning with little, but meaningful ways, and growing into a lifestyle of enjoying the process of learning more, bit by bit.


A Real Force for Change!

Can music really help to tame the savage beast?

How much can music do to help transform the world of tomorrow by establishing a sense of culture, values, and roots for the children of today?

Most children are living in a society which is increasingly restless and rootless. Not only are families increasingly unsettled in the matter of where they live, the restless nature of every day life can also be seen when families eat on the run ever so often.

Even in the midst of that restless and rootless ebb and flow in society, music can provide a common thread throughout a child's own life, let alone a common thread amongst the lives of children in that child's community.

But Which Ideas Should Be Allowed to Influence our Children While they are Young?

The popular culture is quite eager to provide a common thread for children through the sale of music, movies, and more; but what ideas are they willing to sell? Which of those the ideas should children really buy into?

Children throughout history have grown up with an appetite and appreciation for music of various styles, whether that music was rich in culture and meaningful ideas, or whether that music was degrading in nature.

Children of today will do the same. Those who sell music for profit are likely to help children develop the cultural appetites of the common culture, and today, that common culture is scraping lower and lower because that makes a growing profit these days. But is that what is best for our children? Does that trend bode well for the future of their society?

What are the alternatives? How important are they today? Can a positive change be made at any level?

When children experience music which is rich in quality, joy, uplifting ideas, culture, values, and/or roots, that music naturally nurtures in children's hearts a love of truth, honesty, purity, beauty, goodness, and etc. (see Philippians 4:8). As a result, that music not only becomes meaningful to them, it also helps those children to develop both a habit of, and a real appetite for, enjoying meaningful music. It also begins to develop roots for those children, whether that music is old or new.

When one considers the history of both lovely and rich music as well as the history of degrading music, it becomes clear that the current dilemma was true in times past, and not only today. Many concerned individuals helped children overcome that dilemma in times past, and that potential is still available to us today.

Through the abuse of technology, degrading music is more pervasive in society, however, music of real worth can still add richness to the lives of children of today - though perhaps one must be more purposeful in guiding children into such a lifestyle.

The question simply becomes, "How does one gently guide children into a lifestyle of valuing meaningful music?" Then, quite naturally, a related question also arises, "What is there about music which both has been and still can be meaningful to children of today?"

Certainly, if we do not yet appreciate meaningful music; or if we do, if we do not yet know how to guide our children into attending to that which is rich about meaningful music for themselves; further, if we do not know how to provide opportunities for children to discover little 'musical secrets' for themselves through both experiencing music and through little leading questions; we are not likely to be able to help our children appreciate meaningful music fully for themselves. Thus, a surprising number of our children are all too likely to to listen to their own mere whims and fleshly responses to cultural music.

Therefore, it is time that we learn more about the most natural approaches to both enjoying and exploring meaningful music with our children.

The place to begin is with our own understanding and appreciation of the beauty, and the power, and even the sheer joy of music.


How Meaningful Can all that Noise Be, Anyway?

What about Music has been so Meaningful in Times Past?

A lot of music is obviously joyous, yet music is much more than that alone.

Music also has the power to express all moods and feelings.

Music can at once rejoice in the best of truths, and at the same time, wipe away the burdens of life past.

The Waits!
Slowly they play, poor careful Souls,
With wistful thoughts of Christmas cheer,
Unwitting how their music rolls
Away the burden of the year.
And with the charm, the homely rune,
Our thoughts - -
- - - - - -like childhood's thoughts are given,
When all our pulses beat in tune
With all the stars of heaven.'

(as quoted in the CMSeries, Vol II, pg. 280)

The Power of Music! What a blessing to the poor in spirit.

The Power of Music! What a charity to those that mourn.

The Power of Music! What a boon to those who serve others.

The Power of Music! What bounty for those who rejoice!

The Power of Music! What a gift to those who build up the church!

The Power of Music! What a reward to those who face persecution, and who thus have need to sing in the dungeons of life!

The Power of Music! What an adornment upon His own - - What exaltation for His Son!


What Other Benefits Might There Be?

Charlotte Mason knew that music is much more than a great pleasure in and of itself. She specifically stated some of the benefits of studying music. Some being academic, others deeply spiritual.

Academic & Societal Benefits

Training in Attention to the World Around You!

"Discrimination of Sounds–A quick and true ear is another possession that does not come by Nature, or anyway, if it does, it is too often lost. How many sounds can you distinguish in a sudden silence out of doors? ...... Music is, no doubt, the means par excellence for this kind of ear culture. ....... and, if a child never become a performer, to have acquired a cultivated and correct ear is no small part of a musical education." (CMSeries, Vol II, pg. 185)

A Dynamic Force for Learning and Sharing Powerful Ideas

More importantly, music can convey the voice of ideas which are important enough that Charlotte Mason referred to the 'voice' of worthy ideas in music as "the voice of a prophet" (as per the FreeDictionary definition, a prophet is: "a person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression").

Miss Mason infers that the part of the educator is to intentionally help the student to understand the vehicle of music well enough to understand and even specifically identify at least the general force of ideas contained in that music, which then provides an invitation to grow into an ability to understand more subtle meanings over time.

While the gist of much music is intuitive almost immediately, such as a hunting call, a marching drum beat, tense music which is played during a movie, a lullaby, or an alleluia; other ideas are more subtle, such as a song which doesn't quite come to a final resolution at its ending point, which might mean one thing in one example of music, and quite another thing in another example.

Further, the nature of sound itself impels certain understanding on the part of a listener when one is listening to a given bit of music put together by a song-writer or composer. Yet, on the other hand, the listener's own past experiences with various types of music, and perhaps the listener's own sensory development, can prejudice a listener's understanding of musical ideas.

Then is the process of bringing children's attention to ideas in meaningful music complex? No. Rather, children can first be brought to understand how capable they are of deciphering the more obvious meanings in music, and then they can begin to be gently challenged to understand some of the most basic mechanisms which help to convey those ideas to their hearts, minds, and spirits. Then they can more readily move on to the challenges of understanding more subtle meanings in music.

By exploring music together informally, but specifically, one can learn to help one's students to grow in such a way that they demand great art from artists of their own day; that such art will then be filled with the important ideas which need new emphasis in the students' own time:

"A new Conception of Art; great Ideas demand great Art – Looking out on the realm of Art again, we think we discern the signs of the times. Some of us begin to learn the lesson which a prophet has been raised up to deliver to this, or the last, generation. We begin to understand that mere technique, however perfect––whether in the rendering of flesh tints, or marbles, or of a musical composition of extreme difficulty is not necessarily high Art. It is beginning to dawn upon us that Art is great only in proportion to the greatness of the idea that it expresses; while what we ask of the execution, the technique, is that it shall be adequate to the inspiring idea. .... and lastly, we shall inspire our children with those great ideas which shall create a demand, anyway, for great Art." (CMSeries, Vol. II, pg. 262)

Living Ideas!

What are Living Ideas?

And here, before going on, perhaps it would be useful to inform the reader something of Charlotte Mason's views of the term 'living idea.' It has been said by those interpreting Miss Mason's writings that a living idea is much like a seed. If planted in the soul of a man and tended properly with that which is needed to further life, it will bear fruit after its kind.

The Ultimate Example of a Living Truth or Idea

The most living idea that has ever arisen in this earth, is the idea which is understood through God’s gift to us. God gave His only Son for us, who had already brought death upon ourselves through our own sin (Romans 6:23). His Son conquered death for us so that we may have eternal life (I Thess 5:10). His Son's resurrection is living evidence of the truth that God is filled with a living and active love for us - a love which produces action for those whom He loves.

Jesus Himself compared the living ideas contained in the gospel message with seeds which are scattered by the sower. Luke 8:4-15

When that seed is received by a fallen soul, that living idea is literally planted in his spirit. Then that which is brought forth from that seed - - - is a new life in the spirit of the man, a form of life after the kind of the seed itself: a new live in the spirit of the man who had been dead, but who now lives forever.

"....but the one who lives only for the joy ...[received from] this world is the same as dead." I Timothy 5:6 - NLV

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever believeth and liveth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:25-26

Then the Holy Spirit is given to each one who believes. The Holy Spirit's being given from God to man is assumed to be an ongoing event that necessarily began to occur when a man begins to obey Him.

"...the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." Acts 5:32

The Holy Spirit then bears witness to us, in line with scripture, that we are God's children.

"The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God." Romans 8:16 AMP

As we continue to trust Him and obey Him, He will direct our paths, helping us to understand what is good and true.

"(1) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and (2) lean not unto thine own understanding. (3) In all of thy ways acknowledge Him, and (4) He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

As we understand what is good and true, the Holy Spirit helps us to understand love more and more fully, "...the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5b

That which is produced from that love is part of the 'fruit' which arises from the 'living idea', or seed of God's love for us: "..the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control...." Galatians 5:22-23a

That love, which is a part of the fruit of the Spirit, is the love of God and grows after the manner of the seed itself.

"..Whoso keepeth his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected.... he that loveth his brother abideth in the light." I John 2:5a, 10

Yes, there is still a need for the (a) heart and (b) mind to come under the influence of the love living in the (c) spirit. This love cannot be perfected without following the lead of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not fail to bear witness to the new spirit in the man - clarifying at all times what love is in each and every moment. (Sometimes we want instruction on one aspect of life, while He expects us to have heeded a previous message first, so sometimes we miss His guidance, but it is always there waiting for us to come in line with His previous word so that we can hear the new instruction we are seeking.)

After all, even the winds and seas obey Him. Matthew 8:27



.; and yes, to do so effectively, the heart and mind must join together, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, battle the flesh. When the battle is being won, the love in the spirit is bearing fruit in the life of the man. Then the fruit of the Spirit is brought forth in kind with the seed of love planted in his spirit to start with. The living result is simply, yet beautifull this – the love of God flowing out from the heart of man.

In that case, an idea having to do directly with spiritual things bears fruit predominantly in spiritual ways. On the other hand, living ideas which are related more to the laws of physics, which simply describe precisely that which is observed in God's created world, when understood, can bear forth fruit mostly in the physical realm - such as the ability to vault a skyscraper on either bedrock or shifting sub-strata. And then again, a living idea having to do with economics will produce fruit predominantly after its kind, in economic affairs.

Living Ideas in Music

The extraordinary thing about music is that it can carry forth ideas in almost any realm of thought! Those who are devout believers might most relate music to deeply spiritual ideas. However, music can do much more. Music can convey the same ideas that inspire various types of architecture, convey appropriate attitudes of politeness or reverence in social or spiritual settings, can convey rest or tension or joy in conjunction with any film or opera. It carries forth ideas of national pride, thrill of the chase, and ever so much more, including battle commands. In short, it is very possible that music can express more effectively than words, just about any ideas and/or feelings related to life in general, or related to any new experience one might have in life.

Appetites for Living Ideas in Music Should be Cultivated

Music saturates our culture. A great deal of music is wholesome and filled with great ideas. At the same time, a great portion of our culture's music carries forth ideas which celebrate and instruct in what the Bible would call 'the ways of death.' Those who saturate themselves with such music develop an appetite for the ideas found therein. Even if those individuals rightly believe that they would not act on such ideas, they are, at the very least, preferring to associate with evil thoughts rather than godly thoughts. At some point in time, a good number of those people make a decided effort to set such music aside when they realize how damaging that music is to many people. Many of those who try to leave such music behind find that it is a struggle because they have nurtured an appetite for whatever type of music has made up their musical diet. Many of those individuals simply try to leave old music habits behind by choosing to no longer listen to such music. If the Spirit empowers such efforts, they are very likely to succeed. However, the Spirit typically guides such individuals to develop an appetite for other nourishment, be that Bible study, the reading of good literature, the practice of service to others, listening to other types of music, and/or etc.. Thus, for many who live in a culture saturated with various types of music, disciplining themselves in the habit of nurturing some new appetite(s) is vital for change.

Miss Mason knew this to be true about all appetites in life, generally speaking, and had this to say on the subject:

"Perhaps it is not too much to say, that ninety-nine out of a hundred lost lives lie at the door of parents who took no pains to deliver them from sloth, from sensual appetites, from willfulness, no pains to fortify them with the habits of a good life." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol I, pg. 332)

Matthew 6:21 tells us that "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." might one treasure the ideas in music, whether those ideas be good or evil? Further, Proverbs 8:38 says that those who are not finding God are hurting themselves, and further, that they love death. How lifeless must be the ideas such individuals dwell upon?

What pains, therefore, ought parents to take in order to do what they might to help deliver their own children from any inclination they might have to develop damaging appetites in music at some time in their life? Certainly, the Holy Spirit can guide in a living way to do this, rather than in a way of legalism, which is dead and produces only death after its kind.

All Truthful Ideas are Inspired by God Almighty - even those in music!

Most powerful of all, Miss Mason understood and taught that those ideas which are worthy of voice, and which find voice through art, aye, music as well, are inspired by the Almighty God. Thus, those who access living ideas in music are witness to His inspirations. Certainly one can discern the abuse of such knowledge when knowledge is used to further ill intentions. However, that does not negate the initial source of that knowledge being God Almighty.

"The Great Recognition – Many Christian people rise a little higher; they conceive that even grammar and arithmetic may in some not very clear way be used for God; but the great recognition, that God the Holy Spirit is Himself, personally, the Imparter of knowledge, the Instructor of youth, the Inspirer of genius, is a conception so far lost to us that we should think it distinctly irreverent to conceive of the divine teaching as co-operating with ours in a child's arithmetic lesson, for example. But the Florentine mind of the Middle Ages went further than this: it believed, not only that the seven Liberal Arts were fully under the direct outpouring of the Holy Ghost, but that every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit, without any thought at all as to whether the person so inspired named himself by the name of God, or recognised whence his inspiration came." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. II, pg. 270-271)

Miss Mason went on to question whether or not this conception of the source of knowledge is true, and then to settle the question with this example, that God provides the guidance to each step of the farmer, and thus, it is understood that He provides the knowledge and ideas needed for all else in life as well. The evidence she provided to confirm this conviction assertively is found in the Bible itself:

'Doth the powman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doeth he not cast abroad the fitches and scatter the cummin, and cast the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.' (Isaiah 28:24-29)

God as Guide in the Teaching of Music!

Charlotte Mason not only considered God to be the source of knowledge about all subjects, and thus, He is the source of all knowledge related to music; she also recognized Him to be the source of all of the knowledge which a teacher would need in relation to the teaching of music as well.

"His God doth instruct him and doth teach him. Let the mother visualise the thought as an illuminated scroll about her newborn child, and let her never contemplate any kind of instruction for her child, except under the sense of the divine co-operation. But we must remember that here as everywhere the infinite and almighty Spirit of God works under limitations......

"Our co-operation appears to be the indispensable condition of all the divine workings. We recognise this in what we call spiritual things, meaning the things that have to do more especially with our approaches to God; but the new thing to us is, that grammar, for example, may be taught in such a way as to invite and obtain the co-operation of the Divine Teacher, or in such a way as to exclude His illuminating presence from the schoolroom....

"But perhaps the immediate point is that ...teaching ... guiding ideas and simple principles, .... without pedantry and without verbiage, is, we may venture to believe, accompanied by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, of whom is all knowledge.

"Teaching that Invites and that Repels Divine Cooperation -- The contrary is equally true. Such teaching as enwraps a child's mind in folds of many words that his thought is unable to penetrate, which gives him rules and definitions, and tables, in lieu of ideas––this is teaching which excludes and renders impossible the divine co-operation." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. II, pg. 273-274)

"What a revolution should we have in our methods of education if we could once conceive that dry-as-dust subjects like grammar and arithmetic should come to children, living with the life of the Holy Spirit, who, we are told, 'shall teach you all things.'" (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol III, pg. 118)

"Spirit to Spirit" fellowship should be our focus

What does 'Spirit to spirit' fellowship mean?

Miss Mason further taught, that in any matter (not necessarily more so in the matter of music, but indeed so in the matter of music), when we are with other people, even our own children, we are actually not relating to them as much 'parent to child,' or 'face to face,' or 'person to person,' as we are 'spirit to spirit.'

"Once we see that we are dealing spirit with spirit with the friend at whose side we are sitting, ..... We begin by believing in the children as spiritual beings of unmeasured powers––intellectual, moral, spiritual––capable of receiving and constantly enjoying intuitions from the intimate converse of the Divine Spirit." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. II, excerpts from 276, 277)

Music as an undisputable aid in spirit to spirit fellowship

Might the following verses help one value music in 'Spirit to Spirit' fellowship?

"Let the words of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Col 3:16

"Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:18b-20)

Do the truths in the following quotes, which relate to all subjects of study, relate to music in some special way?

"Once we see that we are dealing spirit with spirit with the friend at whose side we are sitting, with the people who attend to our needs, we shall be able to realise how incessant is the commerce between the divine Spirit and our human spirit. It will be to us as when one stops one's talk and one's thoughts in the springtime, to find the world full of bird-music unheard the instant before. . In like manner we shall learn to make pause in our thoughts, and shall hear in our intellectual perplexities, as well as in our moral, the clear, sweet, cheering and inspiring tones of our spiritual Guide.

"We are told that the Spirit is life; therefore, that which is dead, dry as dust, mere bare bones, can have no affinity with Him, can do no other than smother and deaden his vitalising influences. A first condition of this vitalising teaching is that all the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do; given the vitalising idea, children will readily hang the mere facts upon the idea as upon a peg capable of sustaining all that it is needful to retain. We begin by believing in the children as spiritual beings of unmeasured powers––intellectual, moral, spiritual––capable of receiving and constantly enjoying intuitions from the intimate converse of the Divine Spirit.

"The child's progress is by leaps and bounds, and you wonder why." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol. II, pg. 277)

Every subject has its living way

"Every subject has its living way, with ... 'its guiding idea' at the head, and it is only as we discover this living way in each case that a subject of instruction makes for the education of a child. No neat system is of any use; it is the very nature of a system to grow stale in the using; every subject, every division of a subject, every lesson, in fact, must be brought up for examination before it is offered to the child as to whether it is living, vital, of a nature to invite the living Intellect of the universe." (Charlotte Mason Series, Vol II, pg. 279)

What is the guiding idea which leads us into the living way of music?

This next post begins exploring 'the living way' of music by identifying it's 'guiding idea.'