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Bethany Stuard has both an extensive knowledge of and great passion for choral music. That is what makes her such a fun guest for this episode of the podcast. In this episode Bethany likens choral music to a great room with doors that lead to all areas of knowledge. It is a fascinating glimpse at a tool we can use in our Morning Time to inspire our kids in ways we hadn’t considered before. Enjoy!

Pam: This is your Morning Basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi Everyone, and welcome to episode 101 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host. And I am so happy. You’re joining me here today. Well, sometimes wonderful guests and wonderful topics fall right into our laps. And that is the case with this particular episode. So on today’s show, we have Bethany Stuard with us and Bethany is a homeschooling mom of three, who has a passion for choral music. She has a passion for choral music and choirs and helping kids sing. She’s a choir director of a children’s choir and she just loves choral music. And she wanted to share that love with other homeschool moms.

And so we are so thankful that Bethany reached out to us because this is a fabulous podcast episode. So inspiring to listen about how choral music can actually connect to so many other topics and subjects in our homeschools. So on this episode, Bethany is not only going to tell us all the reasons why we should study choral music, but also a bunch of different ways that we can make this happen. What do we talk about with our kids when we’re listening to choral music, where do we find choral music and so much more?
I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode.
And speaking of choral music, did you know that there is a hymn or a folk song included in each one of our monthly Morning Time Explorations. Morning Time Explorations are topical studies that we release every single month.
So you can dig deep with your kids into really fun subjects like sharks, snow and ice, Cowboys, friendship, and so much more. So if you would like to try out a set of our Morning Time explorations, you can do that by coming to, where you can find our latest selection full of all kinds of truth, goodness, beauty, poetry, music, art, everything that you could need and want to bring into your Morning Time. That’s at Pam
And now on with the podcast,
Bethany Stuard Is a choral conductor, vocal performer music, educator, and homeschool mom of three. She is the artistic director for the first Colony Homeschool ensemble choirs in sugar land,Texas, and received the Texas choral directors association, Young director of Distinction award in 2012. Bethany is active in the music community as a member of the Texas music Educators Association and the Texas Choral Directors Association. She enjoys providing professional development for choral music instructors, especially in the area of cultivating creativity and fostering team spirit in the choir classroom. Bethany, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much, Pam. I’m so happy to be here. Well, I am so happy to have you. I have heard some wonderful things about you from Dawn Garrett and just your enthusiasm for choral music and vocal performance and all of that stuff. And I think it’s just, it’s something new and it’s something great. So thanks for coming on.
Oh, it’s my pleasure. I’m such a fan.
Tell us a little bit about your homeschool. You have three kids, right?
That’s right. That’s and they’re little. They’re six, four and two. So my homeschool barely exists. I go to my first homeschool convention next week. So, like I said, I’m new to this. I taught high school choir and public schools for a decade, and I loved it. We traveled and performed it. Didn’t musicals and festivals, but I’ve always known that I was home with homeschool. I was homeschooled when I was little and it was an awesome experience. My mom is a great teacher, my siblings and I are close, and she actually did Morning Time, like activities back in the olden days. Like she would read Proverbs and we would write about it, or she would do read alouds. And those are my memorable homeschool moments, those things we did together. So when I stumbled upon your Morning Basket, and when I read your book, I thought with, this is for me, this is it. So I do love being a choir director but I quit, that I’ve been doing judging and conducting gigs just as they come.
But mostly I’ve been raising my babies and preparing to homeschool. I started reading up when I was pregnant and my cousin recommended For the Children’s Sake. So I’ve had years of reading and podcasts. And so next year we’re going full Ambleside Online. Oh, I’m very excited.
Awesome. Awesome. Okay. So have you been doing a little Morning Time in your house?
Cause my next question is usually, well, what does Morning Time look like in your homeschool? So are you doing something like that?
We have, we started when they were little three and a half in a precocious 22 month old, we called it a snack and storytime time and I would start singing the doxology and they would sprint because there were snacks and we would just memorize a verse and then do our activities and read our books from the Peaceful Preschool. And it was wonderful. That’s when we did anything, like learn our address or our telephone numbers, just that linchpin in the day at time of connection.
During the first quarantine, we added hymns and a longer scripture memory, but then the baby started to walk and my oldest started some gentle kindergarten. Then things got a little tougher. My youngest is a destroyer. And when, like, when people would say that to me, I would think of some like wild-eyed insane child running around and knocking everything over. But no, he’s so sweet. He’s so happy. He’s just happily ruining all my things. And so the only time we could do anything organized was he’s strapped down. So if the toddler was done eating his food and I kept schooling the others, all the toothbrushes would go in the toilets and he would throw the blankets, stuffed them in the diaper pale, and then unlock the garage and crawl in the car and drink my day-old coffee and eat some quarters like that was what was happening. And so we had to divide Morning Time into two parts. So we would do memory work in the living room.
I would sing a hymn, the poem and Bible passage. We’re memorizing, maybe a folk song while they play blocks or trains or rolled around. And then we would go to the table and I would pass out snacks and we would read our Peaceful Press nature guide and do those books and any activities that we could. But if the toddler is done eating his food and he’s just going to go pour all the spices out.
So having that, having that set aside time gave me so much peace. And then part three of Morning Time is after afternoon nap. Then we have fruit and read poetry. So dividing it up really helped with the baby problem.
Oh, I Love that. The I, and it just walked away to find a great solution to a problem that was presenting itself. And, you know, in six months, probably not going to be quite as much of a problem.
No, it’s Not. He just turned two it’s much better. It’s much better. And all those things I learned from you and from your guests. And so I’m just so thankful for you and for your ministry.
Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. Well, I know what we wanted to talk about today. And you’ve mentioned something a couple of times, guys, if you have been listening, you have picked up on this thread of singing. We were singing a hymn, we were singing a folk song. And so that is what we’re going to be talking about today is music, but choral music specifically.
So Bethany, what is it about choral music? Why should we seek out choral music as opposed to just listen to classical music?
I think the short answer before I give a long answer is language. It’s language. There are more access points to choral music because it has text. And that text is almost always poetry, scripture, or liturgy. That is this special place of classical vocal music, as opposed to just folk songs. Although a lot of choral music is an arrangement of a folk song or just instrumental music. You know, there are some peripheral pieces with nonsense syllables or prose or speeches, but almost all the time in choral art music, you’re learning poetry, scripture, or liturgy.
Another thing about choral music is that it’s older. It was the music of the church. So the literate people or the people notating music. So we have choral music for like 1200, you know, from the middle ages. And we have high-level art music from the Renaissance, which we don’t necessarily have from instrumental music. Like we can sing Gregorian chants. That is so old, which is awesome. So I, I have to say here, if, if I can make an analogy, it choral music is a great room to be in. It is its own beautiful art. It is a gorgeous part of being human lifting up your voice to the Lord. And then we’ll talk about some of those benefits later, but because choir has language and because it’s old, that room has doorways connections to a lot of other great rooms, a great educational areas. Can we talk about those now?
We can, but before we dive off into that, can we talk about like give us some examples? So I just want everybody to be aware of like a recording, like if they were to go to, you know, their Alexa or if they were to go to Spotify or even YouTube or something, and they wanted to look up some choral music, and we’re probably going to talk about a ton of these, but just give us a couple of examples of what could we search for what kinds of pieces are we talking about.
When you’re talking about art music?
Well, honestly, if you’re memorizing great poetry, you can probably find a choral arrangement of that. If you were thinking, oh, I’m in the middle ages, you know what, Pam, I actually have a whole, a whole music list. It’s five pages, long of recommendations of things people can, people can look up, but if you’re, if you’re looking at the Baroque era, look up just Bach and you will get all the passions and all the motets.
If you’re, like I said, if you’re memorizing great poetry, you can find an arrangement of that piece. And if you’re learning about certain liturgical things, you can find those things, whether it’s the mass or the vespers. So you can search that out and get really specific as your needs get specific.
Right. I think a lot of like what most people would be familiar with would be like Handel’s Messiah or something like that. That there’s a big choral element to that piece.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And that is not, that’s one of the greats, but not the only auditorio out there. Right? There’s an auditorio of the story of Jeftha that Haydn’s Creation. He wrote out Creation for choir and soloists. So all of those kinds of things, and, oh, I’m going to tell you so many examples as we go through these and you’ll have to stop me from singing them. Cause I probably will.
Awesome. Okay. So let’s now start opening some of those doors that you were talking about earlier.
Okay. So let’s, let’s talk about poetry, the doorway into poetry when you’re kind of in the doldrums of memorizing in your homeschool, even worthy, beautiful selections of poetry, choral music can be that new source of inspiration and motivation.
You get to hear it interpreted and brought to life. You know, I always wanted to have great knowledge of poetry as a child because I loved Anne Green Gables and she just flows with poetry references. But I, I didn’t have that mental wherewithal to sit and read poetry and, you know, quote Tennyson. But I realized as I started studying classical education, “Hey, I know passages from Shakespeare, I’ve sung sonnets.”
As I began to get books of poetry for my children, I flipped through these books of greats and go, I know that I know that I know 15 settings of The Tiger by William Blake or I listening to the literary life podcast and Cindy Rollins and says, one of her favorite poems is Jenny Kissed Me.
And I would go, Oh, I know the most lively, fun setting of that by Eric Barnum. So lo and behold, a lifetime of choral music has given me way more poetry than more than most normal humans. A chorus does repeat reading and memorization of more poetry than any English class out there. So we can talk about some examples and what a composer might do to aluminate the text. I think about this little French poem by Madeline lates, LA petite, PHY sachet, wrong title. They call it it’s about a little girl. She comes home. She sets her basket on the table, checks on the baby, sits on a rock, and looks at the stars. But Poulenc sets that the composer Poulenc sets it for a treble choir. And all of a sudden that moment that she describes becomes eternal. He makes it sublime because of the way he sets it.
Composers can paint the text with the music. So there’s a poem Choose Something Like a Star by Robert Frost. Randall Thompson sets it. And what he does is have the Sopranos go, “Oh Star.” They hold that note while the rest of the choir speaks the poetry, “The fairest one in sight.” So there’s that touchpoint above you? That never moves? Well, they’re the star, right? So he’s auditorily painting it for you. I think Gallant Weaver by Robert Burns McMillan sets it. And you hear it later, the voices weave in and out, they layer in, you actually hear the tapestry. So sometimes it’s really literal like that.
I think about one of our favorites, The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Yates and there’s a setting for women’s choir and it arises, it says I will arise and go to Innisfree and the voices go, now. It’s so good. I have a dream of making a convention performing choir out of homeschool moms and having them perform like a wonderful hymn setting, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, at a keynote address. This, this, my, my dream
Sign Me up. That would be awesome. I would, isn’t that a good idea?
Yes. I’m a soprano. I’ll be there.
I thought that you were a choir person. I thought I remembered hearing you say that. Oh, excuse me. Go ahead.
No, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Okay. So poetry, what’s another door we might open. So language learning, you can’t go to a choir concert without hearing Latin. So many motets masses and major works, and you’ll probably hear whatever language you’re studying. If you’re gonna acquire it enhances your auditory language skills. You’re practicing, shaping syllables attentively and precisely, or you’re being exposed to new languages and sounds, and it might spark an interest for your student.
I loved the music of Brahms. So I took German. The concert I just did with my homeschool choir. This spring, we sang in Ben bay, Norwegian, German, Serbian. And my prayer is that they develop a love for other cultures because of that experience.
You know, whatever language you’re learning. It’s good to listen to music in that language. And if you’re very tired of listening to trite, annoying children’s songs in Spanish, maybe you can listen to some Spanish choral music. There’s so many great arrangements. For example, if the Andalusian folk song El Veto so much fun stuff. So you can kind of elevate that language learning time.
Another doorway that we’ve kind of talked about is folk music. Every folk song you can think of is arranged for choir from the Water is Wide to Loch Lomond, to What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor. My kids just run around the house in circles, listening to a really fast men’s choir version of this Shenandoah. And you know, maybe you’re learning Barbara Allen in your Morning Time. And your teen is real uninspired by the ukulele arrangement on YouTube, but they might be into a choir of 60 talented college dudes singing it in this barbershopish arrangement.
With that said, you don’t want to learn a folk song necessarily by hearing listen to a choral piece. It might be too layered and complex and the ear might not naturally find the melody. So at home you want to learn it simply, and then you can enrich that experience with a choral arrangement and ask your kids, what did the composer change did they add an interesting rhythm? So this is a really special place of choral directors.
At a conference I was at recently, I just heard her director say, we are the keepers of American musical culture. We are passing this along. So that’s one.
Choral music is a doorway into geography. So, you know, all music has a place in the world that it came from. You can hear that flavor of its origins, but it’s stronger in choral music just because of the language. Like I didn’t care about Russian literature or history, but then I got to know the music of Rachmaninoff.
And I signed up for Russian and read the, you know, who read the books. And if your child hears the music of a culture, they might get interested in that country. And doorways go both ways. If you had a kid who’s into reading the Russians, how cool to introduce them to the sacred music of Grechaninov enough or Rachmaninoff.
Often you hear how it’s based in that old monodic Eastern Orthodox chant. And you know, we say in Charlotte Mason, world education is the science of relations, right? Making connections and choral music is the perfect way to do that with a country. I think about backpacking with a friend of mine in my twenties in Salzburg. And we went to that cathedral where Mozart was baptized and grew up in played.
We were the only guests there and we just stood in saying the Mozart vespers in the middle of the cathedral. We were connected to it because we knew the music and that’s, that’s what we want for our kids. We, so if you’re studying a country, seek out its choral composers, you can visit the country with your ears.
I have, I have two more doorways for you.
Okay. Okay. Two more doorways.
So it’s a doorway into history, especially church history, right? Particularly with this art, every culture has its music and you can hear the difference between Eras, the difference between Baroque and romantic. That’s huge for learning. We’re using our sense senses to enter into the narrative of history. It’s especially a great way to learn about us histories by learning spirituals.
You can find incredible choral versions of every major spiritual from Joshua Fought the Battle to Didn’t my Lord, Deliver Daniel to Sit Down Servant to Deep River, like a textbook can never describe that yearning for freedom and the spirit of an oppressed, but faithful people like these spirituals can. So I highly recommend listening to the works arranged by African-American composers, Moses Hogan, Stacy Gibbs, and listening deep river. My home is over Jordan. It will, it will change you.
Choral music was my introduction to liturgy. I grew up in a Baptist church in west Texas, but then we sang Catholic and Anglican and Lutheran service music and prayers. The prayer of St. Francis. I didn’t know, there was such a thing as pre-written prayers and we sang so many masses. So it educated me on church history and other branches of our faith.
Like we said before, choral music is older. So if you’re studying the middle ages, you can, you can go there. I think about Carmina Burana by Orf. It’s this huge masterwork of really dramatic settings of 11th and 12th century poetry and all these languages and your Latin student can totally get into, get into, Oh, fortuna. You know, it also makes you ask, ask questions. Why in the 17th century did all the sacred choir music suddenly changed from Latin into other languages. There’s a reason for that. Why do languages expand in the 19th century? The art music, wasn’t just French and Italian. It’s all of a sudden it’s Hungarian and check. Well, that was the rise of nationalism. So there it connects you to your, to your history.
And finally, choral music is a doorway to spirituality. It’s worship. It is Psalms. It is liturgy. It’s such a gorgeous experience to sing the Bible and we can be taught by composers. We can be spiritually moved by them. I think about the Brahms Requiem. And he says that there’s the second movement of the Brahms. Requiem is done. All the splice assists to be cross. All flesh is like grass. And he has the clarinets going by. Yeah, it’s growing up and falling away. So you’re hearing the shortness of your life. And then it goes into this grand sturdy, but the word of the Lord lasts forever. So you’re being taught spiritually. Every time you go to choir rehearsal.
And of course every hymn has gorgeous choral settings. Every hymn you could listen to a Bach passion and hear the suffering of Christ. So it has being a choral musician has affected and enhanced my spiritual life so greatly. So choir kind of touches everything
It really, really does. I just love that all of the different places where choral music and choir can next with what we’re learning. And so just it’s integrated whole here.
Okay. So you’ve convinced me that we probably need to study a little bit of choral music in our, in our Morning Time. So what are some ideas for the average mom like me who, you know, I can carry a tune maybe, but I wasn’t, you know, I don’t have this background in music. What are some ideas for incorporating choral music into my Morning Time?
So whatever you’re memorizing, find a choral setting to mix it up. When it gets boring, the poetry, the hymns, the folk songs like we talked about. And I, the list I provided has a lot of things from the IEW poetry memorization lists from the Ambleside poetry readings, and then go on your own rabbit trail. If there are things on, there you go, oh, I love this group. What else have they done? I really recommend before doing attentive, listening in Morning Time to introduce choral music as background music. You know, they kind of grow to like it without realizing it because our ears are like taste buds and don’t always love new sounds.
So it’s important to expose kids at a young age if you can make them used to the style. So background music can help them to acclimate to something unfamiliar. But let’s say you’re trying to listen to a setting of a poem you’re memorizing and you want to listen to it attentively. How can that work during Morning Time? You can ask, as it’s been said, many times you can ask those John Muir nature questions. What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of? I like to ask kids, how did, how were you surprised by this music? If you have small children, you can ask them to make a face that matches the mood of the music and practice. But if it’s shocking, what if it’s disappointing or satisfying or sounds angry or joyful? So make those faces. It doesn’t have to be too academic. Also with all music listening, have kids listen for the opposites. Is it faster, slow, loud, or soft speeding up or slowing down? Are the notes shorter or longer? Is it smooth and connected or rhythmic and disjointed?
Is it high or low? So kind of just keep your opposites in mind. As you’re listening to music, you can ask kids how many voice parts do you hear? Hold up your fingers. Oh, can we try to sing along with a part? If there’s like a layered piece with ostinato, maybe they can reproduce one of those parts. Or if you’re listening to a major work in the orchestras there, then you say, raise your hand when the choir enters or every time a new voice enters. I know that you’ve really encouraged music appreciation on your show and that, and I just love that. A choral piece may be easier for kids in some ways, because you can print out the words. And so maybe they can’t follow a huge orchestral score, but they can follow the words and know where they are, right. And download. You can download the music, even from the choral public domain library. If you’re looking at a major work, you can ask him for emotional descriptors, this music feels fill in the blank, or you can ask them to describe the scene. My little ones like to do that, that sounds like a wedding or a battle or a butterfly flitting around or a bear searching for food.
You know, Carnival of the Animals is a great introduction into that type of thinking, making it pictorial, Eric Whitaker composed I’ll have to provide this Eric Whitaker, compose settings of these super silly poems by Ogden Nash. And they’re so silly. And the, the music is like very grand and it makes it hilarious. Hilarious in the best day of my life was this one time with my five-year-old was drawling.
And she looked up, we’re listening to Sorcerer’s apprentice. And she said, that sounds like St. George fighting the dragon. And I was like, yes, this is great to so have them describe the, describe the scene, have them draw as they listen. They don’t have to just be still, you know, have them dance while they listen.
I ask them how the song changes as it goes along. I also think it’d be really cool. This is not something I’ve done, but to make your morning read alouds like a super rich audiobook experience. So like you’re reading the white company aloud to explain in the 14th century, so you can play these 14th century. Motet are chance as the book opens on a monastery,
that would be so cool. And you can also use choral music as a mood setter with like a beautiful interlude in between your activities. I think that would be great. And also poetry discussion that, I mean, that’s huge. I don’t think you have to ask kids a lot of questions about poetry, but if you do you want it to be open-ended, you know, not, not a right or wrong question.
I love the idea of, you know, having to, you know, taking a poem that you’re familiar with. And if, if you have two different settings listening to both and then talking about the different ways, like which one do you like better? And you know, which one do you feel closer to?
So, so many, so many good ideas. And I really love that you said, you know, get them used to it first because I think the tendency would be okay, I’m, I’m so excited. Now I’m going to start this with my kids and I’m going to play a choral piece for them. And they might turn up their nose at it at first because they’re not used to it.
And it’s like, well, I’m going to write this off because this, this didn’t work. My kids didn’t like it. We’re just going to move on and do something else. And so that little tidbit of information about playing it as background music first, and you do this when, when you’re eating meals or you’re, you’re cooking in the kitchen and maybe they’re sitting during afternoon quiet time or something, you just listen to it yourself and have them even be walking in and out, or they’re playing nearby. Or maybe they’re doing some kind of art project at the table or something like that. And they’re listening to it. They’re getting used to it before you come in and introduce it as a lesson. I think that is such a key and vital and vital point.
Oh, I do too. And just as a, as a warning, they really may not like it. But by if they’re listening to, if you’re memorizing EE Cummings, I thank you God, for most of this amazing day and you listen to two different settings of it, or maybe you listen to Eric Whitaker setting, first of all, they will like it because it’s incredible.
But if they say I hate this, this is not good. The composer completely missed the point and the mood of the poetry. And here’s why that is a great discussion of poetry. Like that’s, that’s effective to say no, he missed it. That’s that’s okay, but it’s not going to happen because that piece is amazing.
But you can ask what, what did the composer draw your ear to in this piece? Did he set it up? Did he do the text painting in some way, like we talked about before? Yeah. You can ask them if they agree. I have to, I love ask about the relationship. You know, how, you know, novelists are not present in their novel, but poets are often present in the poetry like that. Poet is present there. So asking about the speaker, asking about the relationship really works.
So this one time in my choir, we were discussing, he wishes for the class of heaven by gates. And it’s the, the guy says that “I had the heavens embroidered cloths and rot with golden silver light. I would spread them under your feet, but I being poor have only my dreams tread softly. You tread on my dreams,” right this the whole point. And so I just asked them, what can we guess about the speaker and the recipient, and what does this poem remind you of? And they said, oh, it must be two people in love.
And that phrase of night and light, and half-life represents time, the how for their past and present and future that give to one another, their nights and days. I thought that was so good. I know a lot of us out there, like we’re really organized type a homeschool moms. And they, your kids might be way better at interpreting poetry than you are.
And that is a beautiful thing. These other kids were like, oh, this is like a Jane Austen novel. Like, I don’t have a dowery. I only have love. And then another kids said, this could be a parent to a child. Parents wrap their dreams up in their children. It was such a good discussion. And then this kid was like, that’s like Aladdin offering the magic carpet to Jasmine and the whole thing unraveled. But it, it was good. So using, using choral music as your basis for your poetry, discussion it as you listen, you’re having to read slowly and thoughtfully, and then you can have such a good talk about it. If you want to, or you can just let it lie. You can just let it be there. I think that can be a great Morning Time activity.
I Love it. I love it. So do you have to be able to sing in order to bring choral music into your Morning Time?
No. First of all, you can sing whoever you are out there. You can do it. Second of all. No, we’ve of course, we’ve been talking about a lot of listening. I mean, we’re so blessed to have access to incredible recordings, right? So we can do all those activities, but I would encourage you to sing any way. And your singing is about delight and not perfection. I also would encourage moms out there to join a choir because you can learn.
Singing is not a fixed skill. It’s a growth skill. What an awesome thing to demonstrate for your kids. I don’t feel competent in this, but I’m going to go seek something out so I can, so I can get better at it. But if there’s somebody out there who’s wanting to get a little better. I can encourage you to just find your head voice.
You know, people who have trouble singing. Usually what happens is they have trouble matching any pitches outside of their own speaking range. So like you speak down here, and this is the only note that you can really sing. But if you can get yourself out of those couple of notes, by going up higher and down lower and doing choral warmups, maybe along with a YouTube video.
Cause there’s awesome stuff out there like seriously, Google, choral warmups. You’re good. They’ll do exercises, guiding you slowly and slowly higher and lower. But if you really don’t feel comfortable, there are great recordings just to listen to or concerts to go to that. There’ll be live concerts this next year. Please, Lord. That would be awesome.
Well, what can You do to encourage your children to sing because it is a skill. I mean, it very much is a skill and the more you do it, the better you get at it though, there’s always, it always seems like there’s farther to go, but how, how do you encourage your children to sing? If they get embarrassed or if they’re not comfortable singing.
Join a choir, it is so much easier to sing when everybody’s doing it right. A good choir director will have ways of exploring the voice and developing a good sense of pitch, but you can do those kinds of things at home just by making noise, exploring the voice. I’m going to add that to do a lot of silly stuff. You do kind of have to get silly, to be able to put your voice out there. You can do whale noises like that one movie or no. Yes, that’s it. I was like the fish. You can make owl noises because this is your head voice. And we want kids singing in head voice, small children, especially and not yelling up to a pitch. You can take a measuring tape and have them measure your voice rule, like a whistle slider, Ooh, play echo games. I’m going to do something. And then you do it after, but you make fun of me, right? Ha ha. I’ll save you. Hello. You know, these just doing these big range, high and low notes, getting comfortable making noises outside of your little speaking range, or just start singing in a British accent with your hymns every day, it gives you a little distance and that’s like silliness without being hitting hideous. So my kids love to sing in a British accent. They have a gift in that very specific skill or, and, or find great recordings of cool guys, singing of acapella groups, and then go out to choir concerts. If you don’t know what to do, I would say, look up symphony, chorus or chamber choir. A professional choir is likely to be small. So look up a chamber choir in your area or university choir, a great high school program, just so you can normalize singing for your kids. You know, we’ve lost that kind of casual sing around the table atmosphere.
Actually, I, I went to Russia once with a team of people and we were in someone’s home and they said, after the meal, we’ll sing you a Russian praise song. And then you can sing us an American. And all of the Americans looked at me panicked like you’re the professional, you can do this. And it was so sad because we think it has to be perfect. It has to be professional to put our voice out there. But, but guess what? All these homeschool moms that you’re reaching, they’re fighting against culture and that’s awesome. And it’s really worth it.
Also, musicals can be a great introduction to the choral music. You know, something classic, especially with a big boisterous chorus like Hello Dolly or Oklahoma or music, man. They have a good bel canto supported stinging style and the chorus. So that could be really fun.
Oh, So many good ideas. And yeah, you know, I, I spoke with Cindy Rollins earlier this year and one of the things that she talked about, I’m like, if there’s just one thing we can do in our Morning Time, what should it be? And what she said was singing, we should be singing in our Morning Time.
And you know, that’s something it’s funny. We did some folk songs this year and it was really the first time we’d ever done folk songs. We’d done music appreciation and things like that before we had done, we had done some hymns, but this was the first time we had done folk songs and my kids just really enjoyed them. And my, my husband came to me and he’s like, I think I heard Thomas in his room, singing Waltzing Matilda, You know? And I’m like, yeah, he Probably was because we studied it in school this year. But once I got them over the hump of why should we do this mom? They really just enjoyed singing. They just enjoyed doing it.
So I think it’s something that, you know, if we, as, as moms have kind of a hangup about singing in front of our kids, let’s find a recording and get them singing because you never know. They could really, really enjoy it. Yeah. I love that.
So you’ve mentioned a number of times joining acquire and, and I’m going to be honest. I haven’t, I haven’t been, other than church. I haven’t been in a choir since college. We had a wonderful community choir when I was in college and I sang with them 300 people strong. It was fabulous. Yes. So good. But I haven’t had the opportunity. I haven’t lived anywhere where I found another non-audition choir since then. So how can, how can you go about finding a choir to participate in?
That’s a great question. And of course, there are the right group may not be near you, but it might be, I think it’s important to define your purpose. What kind of choral music are we talking about? We’re talking about today about art music, right? Not necessarily show choir or musical theater, although those things are awesome and can develop confidence and give a lot of singing skill. But, that won’t necessarily give you like the poetry, liturgy, and musical learning that we’ve been talking about today. So you wanted to search out a program of quality and particularly one that teaches healthy, supported vocal technique and sings, highly artistic music. So the best thing that you can do is train, train your ears, right? You know, that whole, it’s better to, it’s the best way to know a good choir. When you hear one is by listening to great choirs all the time, you study that legitimate dollar to recognize a fake. So like I said, I provided a lot of recommendations that I know you’ll make available but listened to the Spivey Hall Children’s Chorus and the Indiana Children’s Choir and San Francisco Girls Choir. Listen to these great groups to know what they’re looking for.
And I think that you can ask directors if you’re thinking about joining an organization, ask them real questions, ask for an old concert program. Do you recognize any of the texts or poets or is it just something forgettable? Do you recognize composers? What, what tone is being used? Is it that head voice that we talked about or are they yelling? Are they screaming? My God is a rock in a church choir and that’s okay to do it’s okay to get psyched, but maybe not for a consistent thing. It’s not vocally healthy. Right. Are they doing tall vowels or spread vowels? Is it Oh, or, ah, are they teaching music literacy, teaching them to read music? Are they using solfege?
So these are questions you can ask a director. Hey, how do you help kids learn to read music or do they just learn everything by ear? Maybe a great is often do things by ear. If you ask some of these questions, they might give you a clue about finding a quality organization for older kids. Are they singing anything acapella? That’s a good clue to whether we’re talking about a choir of quality too. I, like I said, but the best thing you can do is listen to great groups and then you’ll know when you hear itl
Such good tips. They’re such good tips. And yeah, I can remember being in junior high and high school and we moved in between. And so I went from a great quality choir program into one that was in a much smaller school and not quite as good.
And so yeah, the difference between the two and, you know, when I think back on my choir experiences, when I was younger, the songs that I remember enjoying singing and, and the concerts that I remember enjoying being a part of were the ones from junior high school when I was in that really great choir.
Yeah, Yeah. So much, so, so much so well, Bethany, I just cannot thank you enough for coming on here today and sharing your passion about choral music. I honestly, I’m going to tell you, I had no idea that just about any poem that we’ve studied in our high school, we could find a choral arrangement for. So I am going to be looking at that resource that you provided for us and seeking those things out. So I can introduce those to my kids.
Never occurred to me before, even as somebody who has sung choral music in the past. So that’s absolutely wonderful. And just thanks for sharing your passion with us, I really appreciate it.
Oh, it is my pleasure. Thank you for having me on this is such a dream for me. Like I said, I’m such a fan. You have blessed my kids by the information that you give out by your writing and all that you do. I really appreciate you. And I’m so happy to be here.
Well, thank you so much. We enjoyed having you.
Thank you.
There you have it. Now, if you would like access to the wonderful, generous resources that Bethany has provided for this episode of the podcast, including the list of choral music, resources, and pieces that you can study, as well as the playlist that she’s put together for you guys, you can find them on the show notes for this episode. Those are And I just want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has left a rating or review for the Your Morning Basket podcast in your favorite podcast app.
We really appreciate you doing that because a lot of times that’s what helps us get word out about the podcast to new listeners, the more ratings and reviews we have, the more the podcast apps will suggest the podcast to new listeners. So we really, really thank you when you take the time to do that for us.
Now we’ll be back again in a couple of weeks, we’re going to have Jessica Lawton on. Jessica has been on the show before she is actually the author of the Morning Time plans that we have and Jessica and I are going to be talking all about leveling up Morning Time in your homeschool. So if you are doing certain activities in your Morning Time with your younger kids, how can you add a little more richness and a little more level up to those activities so that your older kids want to participate as well?
So we’ll be back again with that episode in a couple of weeks. Until then keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in your homeschool.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolFor the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolAnne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables


Key Ideas about Choral Music in Morning Time

  • Choral music is usually arranged around great poetry, Scripture, and Liturgy. As a result, it is deeply connected to language in a way that other great music, like classical, is not. So, even if you are already doing music appreciation in your homeschool, and are listening to great classical works, it is still worth it to listen to great choral music.
  • Choral music can be seen as a doorway into various other subjects and therefore, provides a wonderful jumping-off point for studying other topics. For example, choral music can spark an interest in another culture by exposure to the music that originated there. In this way, choral music can become a doorway into geography.
  • You can introduce choral music into your Morning Time by looking for choral arrangements of your favorite poetry. You can also play choral music in the background during the day to acclimate your children to this style of music.
  • For moms who are worried about singing, don’t be. Join in with your kids and learn the music with them. And if you feel so inclined, join an adult choir and allow your children to join a choir as well.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • 3:00 Meet Bethany Stuard
  • 8:20 why choral music is more than just listening to music
  • 11:45 choral music as a doorway into poetry
  • 15:00 choral music as a doorway into language learning, folk music, and geography
  • 18:40 choral music as a doorway to history and liturgy
  • 22:20 ways of including choral music in Morning Time
  • 31:30 message for the mom who can’t sing well
  • 33:07 encouraging our kids to sing
  • 37:33 benefits of joining a choir

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