Music Appreciation


art by Jessie Willcox Smith

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,…honest,…just,…pure,…lovely…of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

At that time I was playing to my little child much of the best music in which I was interested, and Miss Mason happened to hear of what I was doing. She realised [sic] that music might give great joy and interest to the life of all, and she felt that just as children in the P.U.S. were given the greatest literature and art, so they should have the greatest music as well…Musical Appreciation had no more to do with playing an instrument than acting had to do with as appreciation of Shakespeare, or painting with enjoyment of pictures…if they are taken at an early age it is astonishing how children who appear to be without ear, develop it and are able to enjoy listening to music with understanding.

Mrs. Howard Glover, Ambleside Conference of the Parents’ Union 1922, as quoted in Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason, pages 217-218

The fine arts find their origin in God, the Creator of language, color and music. Fine arts reveals within us an intrinsic need for beauty that is a part of God’s image stamped on our being – an attempt to recover a glimmer of what was lost in the fall…In the same way that narration trains your children to hear what an author is saying through a book, you can also train your children to hear what an artist, musician or poet is “saying’ through a creative work. In the process, you can train their appetites to hunger after that which is truly “fine” and beautiful, rather than just common or commercial. Fine arts study sharpens the ability to distinguish between mediocrity and a masterpiece.
God doesn’t want us only avoiding the ungodly things; he also doesn’t want us to let mediocrity crowd out excellence in our minds. He wants us to train our appetites for beauty and excellence.
Be careful even with “Contemporary Christian” or “Gospel Rock.” The messages are good, but the medium may create an undesired appetite for undesirable music. Music can be a powerful tool for discipleship (Col. 3:16), but you must use it wisely.

Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating the WholeHearted Child: A Handbook for Christian Home Education, pages 112, 113, 33


Living Books and Resources for Classical Music Appreciation:

  • has schedules for composer and hymn studies.
  • Music Masters CD series has bios and music. The ones we’ve listened to are appropriate for all ages. The one on Bach proclaims his devotion to Christ!
  • Classical Kids CD series are creative and entertaining, but tend to feature fictional children with bad attitudes.
  • Biographies by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher. These are excellent stories that focus on the composer’s childhood. Being republished by Book Peedler, with CDs of the music mentioned in the books. These authors believed in sheltering children from the moral failings of their subjects.
  • The Gift of Music: Great Composers & Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith & Betty Carlson. My favorite book on music because it explores the spiritual lives and worldviews of the composers and is very inspiring! Great for teens and as a parent/teacher reference.
  •  The Bookshelf for Boys & Girls: Vol. 6, The Story of Art & Music by Elizabeth Gutman (Art) & Ruth Goode (Music). Interesting narrative of the history of music; good to use along with history studies.
  • Childcraft, vol. 13 Art & Music (1949) or vol. 11 Music for the Family (1954-1961) has photos of instruments and brief stories of composers.
  • Peter and the Wolf, Let’s Meet the Orchestra, Carnival of the Animals, etc. are recordings that introduce children to instruments.


Living Books and Resources for Hymn Study:

  • Psalters and hymnals show up at library sales and are wonderful for family worship.
  • Great Christian Hymn Writers by Jane Stuart Smith & Betty Carlson has brief bios. on 49 hymn authors who lived from 1090 – 1929.
  • Hymns for a Kid’s Heart Series by Wolgemuth & Tada, book with CD has brief biographies, devotionals, and music for all ages.



  • Teach Them the Faith by Dan and Karen Vitco (CMeLearn members:-)). The Westminster Catechism for Young Children beautifully set to music.
  • Hide ‘em in Your Heart Bible Memory Melodies with Steve Green. Bible verses set to music.
  • Wee Sing series of wholesome songs includes America (patriotic), Around the World, Bible Songs, Sing-Alongs (campfire songs), Nursery Rhymes & Lullabies.
  • History Alive Through Music: The Songs & Stories Behind Them series by Diana Waring, booklets with tapes cover years 1750-1890 in America.
  • Music and books by homeschooling father Michael Card provide much food for thought as his work tends to be meditations on Scripture.


Performing Arts:

  • Try reading the story and listening to the music before attending a live performance or watching a video (PBS’ Great Performances series, Public Library, rentals)
  • Wingate Univ. has symphony and choral concerts as well as musicals, operas, children’s drama, and ballets; some free! 
  • The Random House Book of Stories from the Ballet by Geraldine McCaughrean, beautifully illustrated. There are similar books that cover ballets that are good for all ages such as Swan Lake, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty (characters from many fairy tales come to the wedding at the end).
  • Milton Cross’ Complete Stories of the Great Operas. There are probably similar guides. A good starting place is Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck which is available on DVD from the Metropolitan Opera and is well done; the story is much improved over the fairy tale!
  • The Sound of Music is a wonderful musical for families, whether seen live or on film.

Compiled by Beth S., November 2006