Learning to Play Instruments When You Can’t Afford Music Lessons

I have 5 kids, 1 keyboard, 1 guitar, 1 ukulele, and several layers of dust. My kids have played around with all of these instruments using youtube videos, but we simply don’t have the money for weekly private lessons.

Learning to Play Instruments When You Can't Afford Lessons

*Disclosure: I received  free resources from Rainbowresource.com for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review.  As always,  I am sharing my honest opinion with you. This post contains affiliate links.

I decided to see if it was possible to learn how to play our instruments using music books from Rainbowresource.com. I carefully researched the options before placing my order, hoping that I made wise choices. I am very pleased with the results!

I have a bit of music knowledge from four years of playing clarinet in Band. As best I can, I’ve tried to look at these books through the eyes of someone who has no musical experience.

Music Theory

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. 😀 I think it is super important to give kids a good foundation in music theory. They need to know the names of all the notes & symbols and how to actually read music instead of just memorize notes. The music lesson books each have an overview of these things, but only the guitar book includes adequate music theory instruction.

These two reproducible workbooks are very easy to teach:

Music Theory Books

Music Lesson Books

My older teens are able to go through these books independently. The younger kids need some guidance. The lessons are easy enough to understand, but it gets confusing for them when they are trying to read & learn, assume the correct positions, and follow the notes.

Progressive Piano for Young Beginners

Progressive Piano for Young Beginners Book 1 – includes book, CD, and DVD

Progressive Piano for Young Beginners Music

This colorful book starts with how to play the treble staff with the right hand, then the bass staff with the left hand, and finally combines the two after they are mastered. The DVD is a big help for visual learners, and playing along with the CD helps set the pace.

Progressive Beginner Piano

Progressive Beginner Piano – includes book, CD, and DVD

Progressive Beginner Piano Music

Chords are the focus of his book. The DVD allows the student to study finger placement, and playing along with the Cd helps train the ear.

Alfred's Kid's Guitar Practice

Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course Complete – includes book and 2 enhanced CDs

Alfred's Kid's Guitar Course Music

This book teaches how to read and write chords. It includes enough music theory emphasis that no other book is necessary. Tune your guitar with the CDs, or load them into the computer for additional tools.

Children's Ukulele Method Book

Children’s Ukulele Method – includes book and CD

Children's Ukulele Method Music

Strum along to simple chords in this easy-to-follow book. The CD is a great accompaniment for all the songs.

Music for the Holidays

We love holidays and looks for every opportunity to add a new level of fun. I ordered a few extras to supplement our music lessons.

Irish Penny Whistle

Irish Penny Whistle w/Booklet – includes tin whistle and book

Irish Penny Whistle Music

My husband and I lived in Dublin for a year before we got married, so we are quite fond of Irish music. We have a tradition of watching the High Kings every year on St. Patrick’s Day. My favorite song on that DVD is Mairi’s Wedding, so I might have squealed a little when I discovered it was one of the 30 songs in this little book.

Christmas Joy Music

Christmas Joy! Level A for piano – Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Up on the Housetop, Go Tell It on the Mountain, We Three Kings of Orient Are, Jingle Bells, Come Little Children, Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly, Good King Wenceslas

Christmas Joy! Level F for piano – The Coventry Carol, The Holly and the Ivy, Jingle Bell Rag, Rise Up Shepherd and Follow, Silent Night, We Three Kings of Orient Are, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, What Child Is This?

Music Placemat

Music Placemat – an easy way to learn about the instruments we hear in beautiful Christmas carols.

Affordable Music Lessons

The total for everything listed above is $120. For the price of a few weeks of private lessons for one child, all 5 of my kids are learning how to play multiple instruments. And I’m about to start piano lessons myself!

Connect with Rainbowresource.com

If you are unfamiliar with Rainbowresource.com, I highly recommend them for all of your homeschooling needs. I’ve been ordering from them for over ten years. Browsing through their big-as-a-phone-book catalog is something I look forward to every summer.

Our Instruments

Back to School Subscribe

CuriosityStream Educational Video Network for Homeschool

*Disclosure: I received a free CuriosityStream subscription for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review.  As always,  I am sharing my honest opinion with you.

CuriosityStream - an educational video network for homeschool

We love watching videos in our homeschool. My kids always act like they are getting away with something when I give permission to watch an educational show. And I’ll be honest, I enjoy the occasional break from being the teacher. 

We have streaming subscriptions for Netflix and Amazon Prime, and use them both to watch educational shows… when we can find them! I don’t usually have time to spend an hour or more digging through vague categories in search of an appropriate show for my kids to watch. And there is no way I am going to turn the job over to my kids because there are some categories that little (and big) eyes should not see.


When I first learned about CuriosityStream, I was immediately interested in exploring it further. CuriosityStream is the world’s first ad-free, on-demand streaming service for quality educational programs that both inspire and entertain. They are available whenever and wherever you want to watch on any internet-connected device. [Read more…]

A Christian Magazine for Kids

I was sponsored by World News Group to review their magazines and am excited to share my experience as well as an awesome giveaway!  All opinions are mine alone.  For more information please read my full disclosure.

World News Magazines for Kids

I intentionally shelter my kids from the news. Newspapers are too biased, the evening news on TV is too negative, and you never know what kind of garbage is going to be promoted in the sidebar of a news website. My husband and I share what we deem to be appropriate, depending on the ages of the children involved in the discussion. I was a bit relieved to find out that there are Christian news magazines for kids!

World News Group

The World News Group publishes three news magazines:

These magazines are a breath of fresh air! They cover current events, world cultures, science explorations, historical events and more. The articles are written from a Biblical worldview, and scriptures are scattered throughout the pages. 

God's Big World Puzzles

The magazines contain puzzles, worksheets, and quizzes. I printed ours from the digital copies that come with each subscription. 

World News Worksheets

Each World News subscription also includes access to additional resources on the websites. Depending on which age you purchase, there are interactive stories, games, and videos that accompany the articles. Weekly emails are sent out that highlight the updates.

World News Kids Explore

WORLDteen is particularly valuable to me. My teenagers hang out on Facebook. They see the headlines, and know there is some heavy stuff going on in our world right now. I love how World News discusses current events while reminding them that God is in control.

World Teen Articles

Free Downloads

Try before you buy with these free sample issues:

Would you like to save on a 1-year subscription? Use this link to save 15%!

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World News Group Giveaway!

Enter to win these awesome prizes valued at over $100!

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Do you view and discuss the news with your family through the lens of 

Brave Writer – A Guide for Teaching Writing

*Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Writer’s Jungle and Partnership Writing for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review.  As always,  I am sharing my honest opinion with you. This post contains affiliate links.

Brave Writer - A Parent's Guide to Teaching Writing

First, a Confession

I owned the Brave Writer curriculum years ago. I’d heard good things about it and bought it used for a crazy-low price when my oldest were in early elementary. I thumbed through it a couple of times, stuck it on a shelf, and eventually sold it because it seemed too complicated. I had four young children and didn’t have time for complicated. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Brave Writer isn’t a book of lesson plans for students, it is a guide for the parent on how to teach writing.

brave writer quote 2 [Read more…]

Learn French as a Family with Rosetta Stone

*Disclosure: I received a free Rosetta Stone for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review.  As always,  I am sharing my honest opinion with you.

Learning French as a Family With Rosetta Stone

My husband’s boss is French Canadian. He flies down a couple of times a month to check on his business, and it is always so much fun to chat with him because of his lovely accent. He will sometimes pause mid-sentence to try and remember the correct English word. We thought it would be a hoot to secretly learn French as a family and surprise him!

Our original plan was to use an inexpensive program that I picked up at Costco a couple of years ago for my high schooler, as well as a free online site that she had been using. I was overjoyed when I learned that we had an opportunity to review Rosetta Stone Language for Homeschool. Now I would be able to compare the three and see if Rosetta Stone was really worth the money. [Read more…]