At Home with Music

Many music teachers and educators recognize the value of music study in the lives of young people. Students who begin studying music through movement and song at a young age create a strong foundation that seems to carry over into both physical and academic benefits as they grow up. Whether learning to play an instrument or listening to the works of great composers, those who include consistent music study in their schedule seem to perform better in other areas of life.

I have found the following ideas helpful in providing a musical background for children as they grow up:

  • Encourage the study of music.

  • Listen to music at home.

  • Use music in family home evening.

  • Invite people with musical talents to your home to perform for your family. Ask questions about their instruments or performance.

  • Participate in music programs offered by wards and stakes.

  • Support community orchestras, bands, or singing groups through participation or through donations of time or money.

  • Attend concerts, musical productions, or ballet performances as a family.Paul Pollei, professor of piano studies at Brigham Young University and founder and director of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

Swapping Service

Sharing talents and extending service to one another can sometimes help families with tight budgets. One family we know finds it difficult to pay a baby-sitter for their monthly trip to the temple, located two hours away. After talking with another family in the ward, they agreed to baby-sit for each other, each taking one Friday night a month. Now both families can take turns attending the temple, and their children love the care they receive.

Another friend felt music lessons were unaffordable until she exchanged child care for piano lessons from a sister in the ward. Still another gives voice lessons in exchange for sewing lessons, and a third trades ironing for baby-sitting. While we should not ask those who seek to make a living to give or exchange their services for free, we can offer to share our own talents and give service to others in ways that can mutually bless our lives and theirs.

Balancing tight budgets has been easier as ward members and neighbors have shared their talents in a spirit of service with one another.Carolyn Williams, Redlands, California

Easter All Week

As families seek meaningful ways to observe Easter, the following accounts may help them create their own Easter-week activities.

The week before Easter Sunday we take a few minutes each day to discuss what the Savior was doing on that day nearly 2,000 years ago. The Sunday before is the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (see Matt. 21:4–9). Monday the Savior cleared the temple (see Matt. 21:12–17). Tuesday the scribes questioned the authority of Jesus and asked about paying tribute money (see Matt. 21; Matt. 22). The scriptures are silent on what happened on Wednesday, so we choose to discuss the parable of the 10 virgins (see Matt. 25). Thursday we talk of the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane (see Matt. 26). Friday is the trial and Crucifixion and burial of Jesus (see Matt. 27). Saturday we discuss missionary work in the spirit world (see 1 Pet. 3:18–20; 1 Pet. 4:6). And on Easter Sunday we read about the empty tomb and Resurrection (see Matt. 28).Alan Don Weir, Kaysville, Utah

My husband and I decided to institute a Christ-centered Easter celebration. We created short activities to remind our children of sacred events that happened the last week of the Savior’s mortal ministry. Some of the activities were lighthearted, such as breaking a donkey-shaped piñata to celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Others were more solemn, such as holding a candlelight dinner on Saturday evening in which we read the Book of Mormon account of the three days of darkness before Christ’s visit to the Americas.

As our children have grown older, we have modified our traditions to match their interests and attention spans. We look forward each year to our special, Christ-centered Easter week.Donna Cardon, Springville, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Family History from Home

Being somewhat disabled and living in a small town some 25 miles from the nearest meetinghouse with a family history computer, I have found I can still work on my family history by writing letters. Some time ago I was given a chart of my ancestors with 300 names on it. At the top were listed three brothers who originally immigrated to Australia from Cornwall, England. Then there was a large gap with a note that read: “No information for 200 years.” The next entries were of my grandparents. I wondered if I could fill in the gap.

I began by writing letters to newspapers looking for information about people who were descendants of those for whom I needed information. I received some interesting replies, including one letter that contained an old photo—at least 70 years old—of the son of one of the three original brothers who settled in Australia. Writing to newspapers has united some current descendants, and they have shared much knowledge with each other.

I also wrote to the postmaster in Cornwall asking for information about the old farm our ancestors left behind. He wrote back that he was the current owner and that my ancestors’ names back to the 1500s were listed on the deed! He said he would be happy to send me a copy. I have also managed to find wills back as far as 1615.

I wrote to the minister of the local church in Cornwall, who initially said he would not have time to research names for me. Despite his original letter, I later began receiving a flood of information from this Anglican minister with much information about my family, including the inscriptions from at least 10 gravestones. So involved did he become in helping me that soon he sent addresses of other nearby churches where I could write for information.

Although I’m not very expert at doing family history work, I have had remarkable success writing letters and have completed 16 generations on one family line. I was finally able to change the note on my family history chart from “no information” to “no gap!”Margaret A. J. Grosskopf, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia

Double-Duty Lessons

Returning from an inspirational day at church, I felt motivated to enhance my family home evening lessons, which we often took from the Family Home Evening Resource Book. I expressed this desire to my husband, but when I mentioned buying a book of ideas at the bookstore, he said he didn’t think that was the answer. I spent the rest of the day thinking about ways I could enhance my lesson plans.

That night I read in the Ensign about the new curriculum changes in priesthood and Relief Society. I felt I had found my answer when I read, “Instruction by the Spirit will happen … as husbands and wives share new insights from their class discussions and as they teach their families” (“With ‘the Tongues of Seven Thunders,’” Ensign, Jan. 1998, 53; emphasis added).

I decided I would use my new Relief Society manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, as an additional resource for family home evening lessons. I had already committed to reading the lessons for Relief Society; now I realized I could also adapt them to supplement the resource book.

As I study and ponder the manual before the Sunday lesson, I am better able to participate in Relief Society and am also preparing for family night. I look forward to the opportunity to listen to others’ perspectives before teaching my own family.

Most important, my family and I can, according to Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “be profoundly taught and exhilarated by the truth and beauty and value of the principles of the gospel” taught by President Brigham Young (quoted in Don L. Searle, “Major Curriculum Changes in Priesthood and Relief Society,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 12).Mary Hawkins Allen, Hillsboro, Oregon