Hey Mom, Listen to this Great Performance: How to Homeschool a Boy, Part 3

Saturday’s beautiful weather must have inspired all the boys. Shortly after I came back from checking out the jungle gym (see the previous post), my oldest son e-mailed me to check out the beautiful performance he’d just found of Franz Lizst’s Christus. He’d posted it as his Facebook status for the weekend, and wanted to make sure I got to enjoy it too.

Here’s what he wrote to accompany it:

“Favorite musical selection for this weekend — Franz Liszt’s amazing oratorio on the life of Christ. I listen to this final section all the time. This is rarely performed and recordings are hard to come by. This is a video I created from my music collection. Please take the time to listen to this music, it can change your life. Have a blessed weekend.”

For several years, he posted a favorite classical music section almost daily. If you click to read all the information he included with this video, you’ll find an overview of the oratorio, the artists, and finally the words to this particular piece, plus links to more information. If you want to learn more about classical music, he’s a good person to know.

It’s not because I taught it

Guess what? I didn’t teach him all this. I didn’t teach him how to listen to and understand classical music; how to discern small differences that make one performance superior to another; or how to transfer music from a CD to a video that could go into YouTube (he actually considers himself a techno-klutz).

All we did was provide access to the family stereo with the radio dial set to NPR, plus recordings  of composer biographies with music, the Classical Kid series including Beethoven Lives Upstairs, and Professor Carol’s Discovering Music course. When we asked what he wanted for his 14th birthday, he requested the audio course, How to Listen to and Understand Great Music with Robert Greenberg, published by The Great Courses. He listened to it repeatedly, and for each subsequent birthday asked for and received other Teaching Company courses on music, history, literature, philosophy, and government.

Oh, and we also gave him the time and freedom to listen, learn, and then explore what he wanted to learn more about. We tried to make sure his brothers didn’t tease him too much about singing audibly, and as one result, he’s currently preparing for a recital of tenor arias. He also sings in the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale, along with our youngest son (you met him in the snake story a couple of days ago) and enjoys playing tenor roles in our local opera company.

It was because there was time

You’re probably beginning to discern a common theme in this How to Raise a Boy series. Let your boys be who they are. Give them all the time, space, freedom, and love you possibly can, and try not to spend your life saying “quiet!” and “don’t.” Craig led many woodland forays, got dirty with the best of them, and yet, his love of music and history has always defined him. If he had to wait for me to learn it all and teach him, he wouldn’t know a fraction of what he knows.

Children have nearly unlimited time to learn things quickly while their interest is hot, and if you can provide resources and time, chances are they’ll learn way more than you’ll ever teach them. It may not be on a topic you’d choose, but they need to be able to explore what really interests them so they will know themselves and their unique gift and calling when they reach adulthood.

An overly regimented child is less likely to really know what he enjoys, or where his true skills lie. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, doing less with them is often better than doing more. Children are people too, and they need time and space to become who they were meant to be.

*Note: This series of posts is presented, not in a spirit of “I did it all right,” because no one knows better than I how many things I didn’t do right, but in a spirit of encouragement. I share them because I wish you joy. I also want to encourage you that you can take this opportunity to discipline your own irrational fears so that you won’t pass them on to your children. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.” II Timothy 1:7.

4 Responses

  1. Kathy Pierce says:

    Thank you, Janice, for these wonderful and timely articles on GROWN boys! Yeah! Mine are 13 and 17, and this time of year I’m very uptight about all we haven’t completed and are in a rush to finish before June 1. Your articles gave me balance! I so agree with giving them time, freedom, and mom’s confidence to be creative, but it is so hard sometimes with all the academic “pressure” out there. My 17 YO is a fabulous composer of piano music and just won his first composition competition. For several years when he was young, his “formal” piano lessons were hit and miss (Mom was his teacher). BUT, during those years he found he enjoyed “piddling” on the piano and developed his love of composing music! He had the freedom and the time. Now he is also a wonderful classical pianist (thanks to a great teacher after he graduated from Mom). The point of your articles is “right on!” Thank you for speaking into our lives.


  1. October 19, 2018

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    […] How to Homeschool a Boy, Part 3 […]

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    […] Hey Mom, Listen to this Great Performance: How to… […]

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