How do I Choose the Best Music Curriculum?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2018
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Choosing the best music curriculum really depends on what types of instruments and skill levels will take part in a music program. This applies no matter if a person is homeschooling and wants to include music teaching or if the person choosing the curriculum will offer multiple classes to a variety of students at different levels of skill. Many times teachers of both big and small classes end up with a curriculum they partially make up by collecting together pieces of music that will be appealing and are appropriate to their students.

For the homeschool teacher, it should first be noted that unless the goal is to teach a theoretical introduction to music, it is hard to get someone to become good on an instrument. Theoretical instruction of something like violin or trombone may not go very well, particularly if the teacher/parent doesn’t understand music, doesn’t have an ear for it, and can’t read it. It is strongly recommended that people who are not skilled in music consider letting another person decide and administer any music curriculum. Private or semi-private lessons or work with a youth band or symphony is likely to be more effective for the student who wants to acquire musical skill.


On rare occasion the music prodigy may be able to self-teach, but even then, he or she may suffer from not getting the corrections needed to develop perfection in form and performance. Opportunities to work with people who can offer these are an excellent idea. Moreover, for most fledgling musicians, getting to participate in an ensemble should be part of music curriculum. Homeschooling teachers are not as likely to be able to provide that.

Music taught at grammar school levels may include chorus, band and possibly orchestra, though the latter is quickly fading from many school programs. Students, here, may have had only a year or two at most of practice, and many are complete newcomers. There are a number of beginning band books, and teachers may have their choice, or they might need to utilize books already purchased by a school.

Since schools now often require students to buy their music books, quality should be equally weighed with price. Not all students can afford really expensive books and might be just as well educated for a lower price. Teachers can augment curriculum with a few short sheet music performance pieces that could be practiced through the year and performed at concerts.

At the junior high and high school level, skill and choices available are even more diverse. Some students may still enter programs with no music experience, and others may be extremely skilled. In addition to choosing music curriculum that can serve these different options, it helps to have classes into which beginning and advanced students can be placed. This allows beginners to work on foundational skills, and more experienced students to continue to learn with more challenging material.

Again, there are many workbooks where students may play at skill level, but teachers often add their own favorite pieces to these because they are either enjoyed by students or they tend to focus on some area of skill that students will need to acquire to play the piece well. The former shouldn’t be underestimated. Frequently, students very much enjoy playing a piece of music that is contemporary and familiar. It can create excitement and interest in ensemble playing.

Another consideration for people designing a music curriculum is how to get pieces that will feature exceptional players. Teachers may need to look for work that fits a whole group’s skill level, but that might offer a more challenging part or solo to someone with great skill. It’s always a balance, though, since teachers don’t necessarily want to distinguish one student over another. On the other hand, more competitive players often seek out solos, and will ask to play or sing them if they’re not invited. Having a few musical pieces on hand prepares the teacher for these requests.

Other people interested in music curriculum are music majors in college. In order to get certain types of degrees like performance music or music education, students will need to closely adhere to recommendation on what classes to take. Those interested in performance may have many to take, and those in music education will attend classes that represent a broad range of theory and practice. Each college is different; so the question of required courses must be referred to individual colleges or advisors in each college’s music program.



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