Some people just naturally gravitate towards the fine arts, don’t they? They may have a natural talent for music or dance or drawing, and a special love for all things creative and . . . well, “artsy”. But others don’t seem to have that inborn ability or appreciation for artsy things, and finding out that a Fine Arts credit is required during the high school years might cause some consternation for those students.
I have kids on both ends of that continuum, so we have had to find balance in how we study fine arts in our homeschool, and sometimes even think creatively about how to tailor our studies for individual needs and interests. My daughter LOVES music and wants to learn as many instruments as possible. She lives and breathes music, and if left to her own preference, she would probably play guitar and piano all day, with a few breaks to draw and paint, because she also loves to be creative that way. My son, on the other hand, loves to listen to music, but has pretty limited interest in participating in it; and has never had much interest in drawing either. In fact, even when he was a little guy, his drawings were mostly geometric shapes and designs, and I don’t remember him ever caring a great deal for coloring books. He can draw some pretty funny cartoons, but even that is rare.
Obviously the approach to fine arts is different for each of them! For my music lover, my challenge is to get her to remember to give other subjects their due and not neglect health or science because they don’t hold quite the same interest for her. It probably goes without saying that nurturing her musical gifts with appropriate lessons and opportunities can challenge our pocketbooks too! For my less enthusiastic son, the challenge has been to give him a foundation in the arts so his education is well-rounded, and to find coursework for his fine arts credit that suits his needs.
Music lessons can be expensive, and we are investing in guitar lessons and tuition in a high-quality Children’s Chorus for our daughter – worthwhile for her abilities and because she is considering a career in music. But for our son, piano or guitar lessons would have been a more difficult expense to justify. Instead, he is studying percussion online! Percussion, because drumming is what he really wanted to learn; and online, because it’s a practical way for him to get the instruction whenever it’s convenient for him. Yes, it’s true – there are quality music lessons available through the internet! We’re using DrumsWithWillie, and the same company also offers piano lessons online. For families that want lessons but finding the time to get to an instructor or studio each week is a challenge, online lessons are an option to consider.
For art lovers, there are so many curriculum choices available! For my students that didn’t have an interest in traditional sketching or painting, we found interesting coursework in Graphic Design (Practical Graphic Design), Technical Drawing (Practical Drafting), and Photography that fulfilled Fine Arts credit requirements.
For students that love art or music, but struggle in some other subject areas, consider ways to apply their interest to other subjects. It’s well-known that studying music can help with math skills. I’ve also found that my daughter can understand math concepts better when she needs to apply them to art. She recently designed a large backdrop for a church play, and found a practical use for what she’d learned about geometry and ratios in order to transfer her sketched idea from an 8×10 INCH paper to an 8×10 FOOT canvas. Also, learning about the music or folk arts of a particular time period or country can help an art-minded student stay focused on history or geography. Conversely, the student that is not inclined towards art or music may be interested in learning about art history or studying biographies of composers; or in trying their own hand at some artistic endeavors related to their History studies. We have loved the book Geography Through Art by Sharon Jeffus and Jamie Aramini for tying geography, history, and art studies together.
By working to each student’s strength when it comes to their interest and ability in the arts, we’ve been able to customize this part of their education as only homeschooling can.