String Camp

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My children attended String Camp for the first time this year. Organized by the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras, this five-day camp happened at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville. About 256 string players showed up and they were organized in five orchestras according to their skills and experience.

KSYO String Camp

On the last day of camp, they wore “concert attire” – as you can see, very relaxed atmosphere.

Since my children had no orchestra experience, they were placed in the entry-level orchestra called Prelude. Erin Archer is the conductor of Preludium, the equivalent of this entry-level for the regular youth orchestra, and so she directed Prelude during String Camp. They played Over the Rainbow and the main theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme of the camp was “That’s Entertainment!” and so all the repertoire was from movies and musicals. Continue reading »

This string camp is highly recommended for players who want to audition for youth orchestras at the end of August. I did not think I would want to start driving weekly to Knoxville again, but we signed up for the camp for a fun and educational summer activity. I also thought this would help the kids with their morale. They have been a little down about their violin experience and have been telling me how much more they enjoy the piano.

Boy and girl with music T-shirts

Wednesday is music T-shirt day. It was fun shopping for these shirts for them.

I figured a bit of ensemble playing and seeing other kids their age play would help. What do you know? It did. Not only do they want to audition for and hopefully join the orchestra in the fall, my son actually got inspired to appreciate the sound of cellos. On the last day of camp, he came to me and said, “I think I would like to learn how to play the cello.” I told him I was not opposed to it and we can talk to several people in Knoxville about finding the right teacher and instrument.

KSYO string camp costume day

Thursday is costume day. So I took Princess Elsa and Master Ninja to String Camp that day.

The string camp consists of two hours, Monday-Thursday: rehearsals, activities, snacks, music appreciation, workshops. On Friday, they stay there from 9am through 3:45pm. After rehearsals and team-building exercises, they get a pizza lunch and a movie (a musical). Then, it’s time for tuning and for joining all the other orchestra levels to rehearse Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 – a camp tradition. The little kids just play open string G half notes if they get lost in that piece. Nobody is worried about it. The bigger kids usually carry the melody as first violins.

At 2:30pm, the concert begins. It is such a glorious celebration of music and children. We parents of course are busy filming and blinking back tears of pride and joy. String Camp was a great experience for us and I highly recommend it. If you live near a city with an orchestra, you might want to inquire if they offer youth symphony opportunities.

Here’s hoping that my children will get into KSYO this Fall!


3 Simple Solutions for Music and Art in Homeschooling

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In homeschooling, just like in traditional schooling, it can be tempting to set music and art aside for when we have time (or money). How can a busy homeschooling mom add music and art to an already full schedule? Here are my solutions (besides violin lessons):

1. Can You Hear It? will start you on this quest to steal a few moments for classical music and art appreciation simultaneously. My kids love this book and CD, which we got from the library. We soon got our own copy from Amazon.

I play the music during meals, but, also, while I cook and they play nearby. We open the book and turn the pages as the tracks change. Sometimes I read to the kids from the book. Other times, we listen and comment on what we see.

Small girl having tea and looking at painting

My daughter listens to “Carnival of the Animals – Aquarium” while looking at the corresponding painting in “Can You Hear It” and enjoying a bagel and raspberry zinger tea; my son is not in the picture because he was finishing up a LEGO project before joining us.

2. A Year in Art offers us visual pleasure as we enjoy our afternoon tea time, a tradition we started about a month ago. Around 4pm, I put a tea kettle on the stove and get out some scones, or biscuits, or bagels, or graham crackers, or toast. I use what I have on hand.

We open the book and look at 3-5 paintings while sipping tea and enjoying something sweet. They have questions. We look for answers together. Sometimes we locate towns and countries on a world atlas.

3. Free concerts – We catch the Knoxville Youth Symphony concerts several times a year and, also, the Sevier County Choral Society concerts (December and May). I used to sing with the Choral Society before I became a mom, so it sort of feels like a reunion for me. If you check your local newspaper or Google free concerts in your area, you should find similar offerings where you live.

I have felt the liberating and relaxing effects of art and music in our homeschooling enough, that I am thinking about experimenting with doing music and/or art before math, reading or writing. I’ll let you know if I have enough courage to implement it on a regular basis. So far, I have done it once and we all loved it.