Unschooling Music

Living an Unschooling life, we strive to give our children as big of a world as possible to learn and grow from. One aspect in which we do this is surrounding our children with a variety of music and musical instruments. We have so many instruments in our Unschooling home. We have a drum set, accordion, guitars, recorders, xylophone, Chinese Flute, harmonicas, an ocarina, didgeridoos, and many other fun and exciting tools for their interest in music. We also have a variety of music playing in our home often, from classical to heavy metal and everything in between!

We recently acquired a piano from a friend who was moving. From the moment Devin sat down in front of it, he began playing. I mean really playing beautifully! Joe and I looked at each other in amazement. When a child shows a “gift” for something, the parent is often pushed to put that child in some kind of lessons. However, our Unschooled children rarely have an interest in taking lessons at all and it isn’t something I would ever coerce, bribe or encourage them to do. I would simply give it as an option.

It’s easy to slip into that future-based mindset of thinking that your child may become a professional musician or dancer someday just because they show a talent or passion for something. On the Unschooling path, which is a very present and in the moment way of living, it is helpful for parents to not get sucked into the culturally common practice of lessons being the only way for personal expansion and growth. There are many ways in which you can support your child on their musical path and one way to just be there! Listen to the music they create and be present with them in their passion.

At this point in his life, Devin has no interest in music lessons. When his Unschooled friends come over, they create music together and record videos. He truly enjoys the experience of playing in his own way. His music is so unique, so beautiful and perfectly him. I would never want to rob that from him by having a piano teacher tell him how and what he should be playing, pulling him from his instinctual connection to the music he loves so much.

I love the foundation of support and trust that we create for our children living a Radical Unschooling life. We never have to rely on teachers or “professionals” to perfect our children’s skills and talents, even in such areas as music. All of my kids will continue on their own paths of musical growth in the way that they choose to. Musical talent isn’t something “taught”. It is something inside of those who choose to allow it to grow. We as Unschooling parents can choose to bring as much of the musical world into our children’s lives as possible to choose from and if an interest or passion grows as a result, we can continue to nurture it with loving support, choices and options.



  1. I really like this, Dayna 🙂 Our son Dylan just recently expressed a desire to take guitar lessons because ” I want to be a better player”. It was totally driven by a need he had to expand his playing ability. Compare this with just a few years ago when my husband (who is classically trained in piano) was trying to teach him music theory. He hated it! He would play what HE wanted to play when we weren’t looking (this was before coming to an unschooling philosophy, obviously). So, for several years, he has been playing on his own and has now come to the point to ask for help. The only drawback—there are not many people in our area that enjoy playing progressive rock, so he feels a bit alone in the journey. But, it WILL come. Thanks again for posting this 🙂

    • Christy,

      Thank you for sharing your parenting journey with Unschooling music! I really enjoyed reading it.
      Thanks for your comment and for visiting my website!


  2. You are so right in this 🙂 I feel the same way about art (although like you, we have 100 instruments laying around ready for the playing). I used to teach in our homeschool co-op and my son took an art class from the mother of our group’s leader who used to be a public school art teacher. She stood over my son and TOLD him that his “birds weren’t good enough” for her and she forced him to erase them and re-draw them. He came out of class and said “I never want to take her class again!!!” He told me what had happened and I was pretty furious. Although I just let it go at the time and said if he didn’t want to take the class anymore, then he was free to do something else. She was very upset later I let my son quit, but I told her, I am an artist, too, and its practices like that that squelches the creative spirit in children, to tell them the “right” way to do things. I then proceeded to teach a class instead called “Draw a Melody” where I took 4 different genres of music and let the kids “have at it” and draw what the music made them feel. Each child LOVED it and did so well, I was asked to do it again 🙂 As adults, we have no right to force our opinions on how things “should be” rather than just letting the kids “have at it”. We have no right to try to mold kids to our thoughts, expectations, or anything for that matter. Each child is their own artist, musician, or whatever they are inside, they have their own way of doing things. And that should be celebrated, and not squashed out of them by “teachers” 🙂

    • Jamie,

      I loved your story of the art teacher and how you stood up for your son! I also loved your, “Draw a Melody” concept. Very fun! I would love to experience that myself!

      Thanks for visiting my site and for your comment!


  3. Dayna, I have the same ideas about music. My mother is a piano teacher, and I also taught piano and flute for a little while, which was a really interesting experience. I did this prior to our unschooling journey beginning, so my approach was somewhat different than what it would be today! It was very insightful into the different ways that various children and families approach the traditional music lesson approach to learning an instrument. With my 2 younger children, they both show great interest in musical instruments, so we’ve provided the instruments, some cool learning aids, and lots of opportunity! I give help when asked, occasionally suggest or offer something, and mostly just delight in watching them discover how to use the instruments in ways that appeal to them. I find much more satisfaction from watching them create their own music, than I would from watching them successfuly play a scale or specific piece of someone else’s music. (Not that those are bad things in themselves.) My daughter has actually asked for “proper guitar lessons” so we’re looking into this. I love to video the little songs they make up, so they can look back on them, and also remember how they went if they want to repeat them lol! I grew up having traditional piano lessons, and still feel uncomfortable if I’m asked to play by ear or improvise at all. I see my children really getting to know the instruments, and their knowledge base of music reading is gradually improving, too. Dayna, have you read John Holt’s book about how his journey of playing the cello as an adult? It sounds really interesting!

  4. As someone who had their passion and gift for playing music squashed by formal lessons and traditional schooling I have thought a lot about how to pass my gift and passion onto my children. My husband is also passionate and gifted and currently playing in a band which is fantastic as my children are surrounded by music. We are always playing music, our instruments are accessible to the kids and we love to dance together.
    I am beginning to play again and am trying to get my gift back and hope this will inspire my kids. True musicianship comes from within and can not be taught.
    Thanks for your post!

  5. I think it could be possible to find a piano teacher that responds well to the needs of homeschooling and would not force a child to learn the traditional songs and scales, but encourage their creative skills within. It is a bit harder to find a teacher like this, but they do exist. In fact, you may get lucky and find a piano teacher that homeschools their own children which would be ideal!

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