We may all agree or disagree on the benefits of adding music to a well-rounded home school curriculum. After twelve years of homeschooling, I’m sure I could put up a wonderful argument in its defense.  BUT – if you already have decided to add Music instruction to your child’s homeschool education and you have your heart set on piano, the good news is that it does not have to be expensive.

My oldest child is now twenty and plays a beautiful Beethoven’s Fϋr Elise on the piano that brings me to tears nearly every time he plays it. What’s so wonderful is that I didn’t spend a dime on private lessons for him to master it!  When he was younger, our budget was so extremely tight that I was forced to restrict him to ONE extra-curricular activity: Sports or music lessons. Being an extremely active young boy, he migrated towards the sports.  However, he still fostered a real love and passion for fine arts, and especially so for music and the piano.

I’m a strummer and prefer the guitar, so I knew he would never be able to learn the piano from me. Being self-employed and also, having two other children to homeschool, there was no way for me to have the extra free time to learn a new instrument alongside him either. Not wanting him to miss out on something so very beneficial as learning to play music, I sought out and obtained a low-cost keyboard and “how-to” instructional materials for him. Total cost – under $100. Total value – (at the risk of sounding cliché) – priceless!

I allowed him to put aside all of his “usual” book learning for several days to allow him the freedom to dig into the manual that came with the keyboard. After several days of determination, he was rolling forward playing simple songs on his new keyboard. He was overjoyed with his accomplishment and continued to learn in his spare time and expand his song list.

A year or so down the road after my son’s self-directed introduction to piano, a friend of ours offered us an honest to goodness, full-size, REAL piano for FREE! My husband and I were overjoyed, but as you can imagine, my son was ecstatic! Stop and chew on that for a moment…  a free piano. Obviously, we considered this a real blessing for our entire household, and as you read this, you’re probably thinking, “Great for you, but I’ll never get a piano for free or even for a low cost!” Well, I’m here to tell you not to give up so quickly, and here’s why:

  1. People give pianos away every day! It’s true. Quite frankly, I believe it’s because of the “hassle” of moving one. This is why our friends gave one to us AND, it’s also why we returned the favor and gave it to another family many years later.
  2. People sell their used pianos at extreme discounts every day. Again, it’s true. There are several options to find low-cost used pianos:
    1. Stay plugged into your local-level homeschool groups and let folks know that you are interested in finding a low-cost piano. Chances are that someone is looking to get rid of one. If your friends in your own circle of influence are not, it’s very likely that they know someone who is looking to get rid of their piano.
    2. You can also surf local-level used websites such as Craigslist to locate those that are ready to part with their piano.
    3. Keep an eye on your local newspaper’s classifieds, as well as the newspapers in your surrounding areas. This is a great resource to find used items. Furthermore, many newspapers offer their classifieds online for free. It just takes a little extra effort to find the feature(s) at their respective websites.
    4. Relatives! Great Aunt Rosie and Great, Great Grandma Mary would be delighted to know that their prized heirloom is going to remain in the family. They’re also more apt to choose you as the recipient because you’re homeschooling.
  3. You can purchase a new piano at clearance pricing. If you must purchase a new one, you still don’t have to pay full retail pricing. Over the years, I have seen many retail music stores looking clear their stock by moving out perfectly wonderful pianos at extremely low prices. Even better — these stores are apt to allow you to do a low payment option, as well.  Just ask. The worst scenario you’ll encounter is a ‘no’ for an answer. But, hey, there is another music store down the street!

These same great savings can also be had when it comes to the curriculum aspects of learning the piano. There is an overabundance of choices, but I’ve outlined just a few for you below:

  1. Simply Music – This program is for self-motivated learning and can be found at pricing well below retail. The program can even be purchased as a bundle with both level 1 and level 2 at tremendous savings.
  2. Piano Wizard – Another program that can be used in the comfort of your own home can also be found at reduced pricing. The overall price is somewhat on the heftier side, however, this program is designed as a game so it offers learning in an extremely fun way. Also, any program that teaches you the art of piano without the years and years of private instructor expense is a real bargain in my book.
  3. Usborne booksellers (like the Co-op) carry a great little title called ‘Music Theory for Beginners’ that you can obtain for under $20 brand new, and even less for a used copy. This title simplifies the complex part of reading and understanding music. Our family was once told by a professional pianist that she tackled the concepts explained in this book during college! I was astounded that my son could have access to that level of instruction for such a low cost.
  4. The ‘Learn & Master’ homeschool series also offers piano instruction designed for use as home school curriculum. Their program has DVDs for visual, CDs for audio, and instructional guides included. Again, here is a choice that will allow you to bypass the extreme ongoing expense of private instruction. This one retails for well over $200, but if you bide your time, you can obtain it for well under $200 when it is offered for sale pricing.

I hope these ideas inspire you to never give up on that tiny vision in the back of your mind of the happy little musical family singing around the piano with the fireplace crackling in the background at Christmas time.  You can have it, too. All it takes is a little patience, a little effort, and a sprinkle of fortitude.

Happy Savings!

Christee Brauckmann
Director, Supplier Services
Homeschool Buyers Co-op

About the Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Homeschool Buyers Co-op is the nation’s largest purchasing cooperative for homeschool curriculum.  The Co-op combines the purchasing power of tens of thousands of homeschooling families around the country to give homeschoolers the same purchasing power as school districts. Homeschool groups are offered the ability to purchase home school curriculum at discounted prices through their free membership program.