“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

We know from His Word that music was God’s idea. It’s part of His character, and because we are bearers of His image, music is part of our character too. It’s why He created us with voices to sing, why some of us are gifted musicians, and why most of us are inspired to rejoice, to worship, and to celebrate with music.

Martin Luther made this frequently quoted statement: “Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.” Though styles may have changed since Luther’s sixteenth century and our choices and personal preferences vary, I don’t know anyone who is not grateful for how music enriches our lives.

Instilling an appreciation for music and providing the lessons for developing skills that our children need in order to enjoy and use their natural musical talents is a priority for many homeschooling families, but finding frugal ways and resources to provide that education in music, including private voice or instrument lessons, can be a challenge. A typical half-hour weekly lesson can cost anywhere from $20–$50 per child. Depending on the number of children in a family who want or need lessons, $200 a month per child can be more than our budgets can handle, but the more motivated, disciplined, or gifted our children are, the more likely we will be to find a way to make it happen.

Even if our children are not musically gifted, studies have shown that a music education can help them develop skills in critical thinking and creative problem solving. Children who study music are more likely to achieve success in math and science as well—all good reasons to invest in a music education for all of our children.

One of the ways we can save money in that investment is to begin a music education program with our children at a very young age. This preparation can form a foundation that could reduce the number of private lessons the child will need when he is older and therefore make the financial investment more valuable. The good news is that this early preparation doesn’t cost anything but our time and patience.

My music teacher friend Leslie believes that children learn the disposition and desire to make music from their parents—that they can learn particular skills from a teacher throughout their lives, but that the love of making music comes from their parents, even if the parents have no musical abilities. A love for music will likely motivate our children to be diligent music students when they are ready for structured lessons.

Using free resources from the local library and online, Leslie exposed her son to music as soon as he was born, playing classical music and instrumental music (piano/guitar/saxophone/violin) throughout the day. She sang to him while changing his diaper, during bath time, while getting him dressed, and before bedtime or naptime—songs such as “Jesus Loves Me,” “Eensy Weensy Spider,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” and “12 Days of Christmas.” While he was a baby in a bouncy seat, she played the piano and his daddy played the guitar. When her son was a little older, she began using music websites to play theory and composer games with him.

As a teacher, Leslie also encourages parents to dance with their children and let them enjoy movement and rhythm, gently tapping out the beat on their backs. According to Leslie, research has shown that children who experience rhythm with their bodies can more easily hear it inside their heads.

Leslie insists that young children’s musical growth occurs best in a playful, musically rich, and developmentally appropriate setting that is free from direct instruction and performance pressure and that they learn best through play and experimentation, which can be accomplished in our own homes at no cost at all.