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Transcripts and Course Descriptions for Music Students

Some teens love music and spend a ton of time with their delight directed learning. Music students should have their work put on a homeschool transcript, even if the learning takes place naturally. All classes on the transcript should have a course description, so parents can demonstrate the rigor of all classes.

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Credits for Fine Arts and Music Students 

When you have a music student or artist, think about what would happen if the student were doing music and theater in a public school. In a school, every class would be on the high school transcript, even if there were more than one fine art class per year. Your student may also have multiple fine arts credits per year.

One of my Gold Care Club members had her daughter taking fine arts at public school, and almost all other subjects were taught at home. We saw for ourselves how the public school put that on the transcript. Each year her daughter earned four credits in fine arts:

  • Theater 1 credit
  • Band 1 credit
  • Choir 1 credit
  • Orchestra 1 credit

That was a total of 4 credits in fine arts each year at the public school. Each credit was clearly distinct with no overlap. Homeschoolers can do that too.

Transcripts for Fine Arts and Music Students 

Choose a title based on the kind of art (theater) or the instrument (violin) or the group (choir). It can be difficult to decide on class titles, but the important thing is to include it on the transcript.

One credit is 120-150 hours of work, including lessons and practice and performance. If a student has multiple instruments or types of fine arts, and each one takes more than 120-150 hours, then your student could have multiple credits as well.

Divide those musical and theater experiences into groups that take about 150 hours to complete. Give one credit per instrument or type of fine arts. Don't give more than one credit per instrument or art form, because sometimes advanced work takes more than 150 hours.

For example, if your child does theater every year and it's over 150 hours, then give them 1 credit of theater. If they also do the violin for 150 hours or more, then give them 1 credit for violin. Don't double up and say that it's 1 credit in violin and orchestra, but instead choose just one class title for that 150 hours of experience. If they also play piano and do more than 150 hours of piano, then you can give them 1 credit of piano.

To make a course description, look online for a school with a similar class. For example, you could search for the term "high school choir course description" to find lots of options. Read it carefully to see what applies in your homeschool class, then write your own description, editing as necessary for accuracy.

Just as in public school, give an actual grade—not pass or fail. The grade should be based on practice, performance, daily work or attendance, and attitude. Since this is something the child is doing for fun, it will probably be an A, or the parent would encourage the student to drop the class.

Course Descriptions for Fine Arts and Music Students 

Another Gold Care Club member asked for me to look over her course descriptions. When I saw this one, I flipped! This is just WONDERFUL, and a great example of how to take a student's interest and create a course description. We talked about what her son did and what he used, and we looked in a college catalog for a course that had similar content to find some possible course titles. She confirmed with her son's piano instructor who agreed it was a great course title. She used some words from the college catalog along with some words from the texts and materials she used. It's a wonderful, academic class with a description filled with details. It really represents what he learned and how much he accomplished. Remember, this was an activity her son does for fun, using the gifts and abilities he was born with, and his parents just wanted to feed his passion with appropriate materials. What a great course description! Thank you, Ann, for sharing your course description!

Course Description
Music Technology: MIDI Arranging of Film Scores

The student will develop skill and proficiency in musical arrangement on the keyboard and through the use of musical technology. He will practice ear-training skills by translating a piece of music into individual instrumental parts recorded into tracks on the keyboard. He will progress to using ACID Pro 6.0 MIDI sequencing software to produce arrangements of various pieces. In addition, the student will read and study the Complete Guide to Film Scoring – The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV by Richard Davis, as well as listen to numerous film scores. The student's most complex arrangements, which his instructor will record with a Kurzweil K200r synthesizer, will be played at his yearly recitals. Recordings of recital pieces available upon request.

Texts & Materials



  • "Blood Ritual" / "Moonlight Serenade" from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
  • "One Last Shot" from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
  • "The Black Pearl" from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
  • "The Medallion Calls" from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
  • "Davy Jones" from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by Hans Zimmer
  • "Jack Sparrow" from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by Hans Zimmer
  • Themes from Apollo 13 by James Horner
  • Theme from The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein

Keyboard & Sony ACID:

  • "Concerning Hobbits" by Howard Shore from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Themes from Jurassic Park by John Williams
  • "Unforgotten" from Halo 2 by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori


  • Spring Recital 2020: Theme from The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein (recorded by instructor with Kurzweil synthesizer)
  • Spring Recital 2020: Themes from Jurassic Park by John Williams (recorded by instructor with Kurzweil synthesizer)

Course Grade

  • A = 4.0

Grading Criteria: Letter grade awarded based on quality of effort. Credit awarded based on 150(+) hours of work. 

Grading Scale: A=93-100%=4.0 / A- = 90-92%=3.67 / B+=87-89%=3.33 / B=83-86%=3.0 / B- = 80-82%=2.67 / C+=77-79%=2.33 / C=73-76%=2.0 / C- = 70-72%=1.67 / D+=67-69%=1.33 / D=63-66%=1.0 / D- = 60-62%=.67 / F=Less than 60%=Less than .67

This same child had another music class called Music Technology: MIDI Composition & Arranging. For that class they used Sibelius 5 Notation Software and also ACID Pro 6.0 MIDI Music Studio sequencing software.

I have to say, I'm VERY impressed! I know that sometimes people think "WOW!" about some of my own homeschool classes. Has it ever occurred to you that other parents may be thinking "WOW!" about YOUR homeschool classes? Actually, delight directed learning will ALWAYS bring the WOW! It's true! I spoke to Maryjane as a Gold Care Club member in the fall of her student's senior year. A few months later, the results were in! Success!! The colleges reported they LOVED her homeschool transcript, and he was accepted into his first choice college! She originally purchased the Total Transcript Solution and later became part of the Gold Care Club. Happy with her successes, she sent me this note of thanks:

"I just sent off my son's final transcript a few days ago. Due to a minor mistake, I received a call from the Admissions office. The requested change was made, and the transcript was quickly resent. I'm telling you this because the office staff's comment was 'I love your transcript! Well done.' The comment should really have gone to you!

I want to thank you for all your support over the past five years, from the talks you gave which I attended at conventions, to discussions at your booths there, to the few phone conversations we had as part of my Gold Care Club membership and my attendance at some of your webinars. You had so much information and support available on your website as well. Unfortunately, my life was waaaaay busier than I would have liked for all of the time I was homeschooling my son through high school. I didn't keep up with the records as much as or as well as I wanted. I wasn't able to take advantage of all your many resources. However, knowing they—and you—were available gave me a lot of comfort. And most importantly, we made it through.

My son was accepted at his first choice school, and he's looking forward to heading off to college in the fall. He also did well over this past year in classes at the local community college, so he and I must have done something right! He's a nice, responsible, friendly, out-going young man (well-socialized!). I am proud of him and will miss him terribly. It's all good. At this point it is time, regretfully, for me to cancel my membership and move on to something else.

Do you have any resources for Moms about what to do with an 'empty nest'?? I have passed your info along to my niece who is also homeschooling high school (and younger--four kids total). I will also recommend you to others if the opportunity arises. Thanks again for all you have provided to me—and for your support for the homeschooling community in general. With much gratitude and warm wishes."

~ Maryjane in Washington

I actually DO have an article about the "empty nest," in case it will be helpful for someone today: The End of Homeschooling: When Did My Baby Grow Up?

Learn More About Transcripts and Course Descriptions

If you'd like to learn just how to add your student's classes, lessons, and experiences to the transcript and to course descriptions, my book Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships will help you! You'll find transcript and course description examples to inspire you to craft your own. Available on Amazon in print or Kindle version.

Learn more about Setting the Records Straight in my review below!

Grammar for Young Students: IEW Fix It! Grammar Re...
What Do You Need to Homeschool High School?

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