Violin Recital

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Last Sunday, my children had their violin recital. It was my daughter’s first. She started taking violin lessons in August and she has already learned the first five pieces in the Suzuki violin book number 1. By that I mean that she can play them by heart, but you understand she does not sound like a virtuoso yet, right? She sounds like a five-year-old who has been practicing five times a week for the past five months.

My son has taken violin lessons for two years now. He is working on the last piece in the second Suzuki violin book and then he will have graduated to book number three. He does well for his age but violin is a tough instrument. Just when you think you have fixed your fingering, the bow starts flying in all directions and you need to give it some attention.  Continue reading »

I have uploaded their Twinkle, Twinkle duet from the violin recital. They did solos as well, but they will have to remain family videos. They also played in group songs. My son played four group songs and my daughter two. Here are We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. My son is second from the right. Here’s Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. My daughter is wearing a red dress.

It was fun to see them out there and a good experience for all of us. Daddy felt proud, I know that. It was a relief to finally have the recitals behind us and take a much-needed break.

I will be honest, I have a hard time being positive about these small beginnings. I expect to hear an adult sound out of them. So this is my growth area, to be positive and encouraging despite the dissonant notes. I have to tell myself, “Despise not the day of small beginnings.” If you also have a hard time with this, take heart, for you are not alone, my friend. I feel your pain.

FYI, I enforce practice five days a week. They don’t practice on the day we go to church or on the day they have a lesson with their teacher. It is hard to get them to practice cheerfully, but I believe strongly in discipline. Children must be taught that work has to be done even when we do not feel like it. Good work ethics is what they call it, right?


Fake It Till You Make It – In Homeschooling or Life In General

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In homeschooling, some subjects can or should be delegated. Two weeks ago, we found a violin teacher for our son.

Since then, he has had two lessons and we have practiced daily. I say “we” because I brought out my violin (I took eight years of lessons as a child) and played alongside him.

He is still not comfortable with the bow, so he plucks the strings – pizzicato in music terms. Apparently, that is just fine, because most children do not start bowing until lesson five or six. Beginners must focus on so many other issues: holding the violin, not letting it slide down their chest, standing straight and not shifting weight from leg to leg etc etc etc.

Since the teacher’s other students had a recital last week, she thought it might be good for my son to join in. Yes, after only two lessons. He would get to see other children play and get inspired. We will get to see how well he deals with stage fright. Brilliant plan.

The location? An assisted living facility in Knoxville. The budding musicians would put smiles on the faces of their parents, as well as those of elderly people.

The teacher chose a piece for him –  a duet with her. Since I play violin, I practiced her part with him for two days before the recital, twice a day. That was all the time we had.

And, just like that, my son performed in his very first recital. The teacher covered a lot of his, shall we say, growth areas.

My son does pizzicato for his first recital, while his teacher plays a more elaborate tune

After only two violin lessons, my son does pizzicato for his first recital, while his teacher plays a more elaborate tune.

Even though he was nervous, he made it through. He even decided to walk up with the other students, when they lined up, and play for the group pieces – which he had never heard or played before. He certainly did not have to play with them. The teacher told him that.

What did he play? Not sure. I could not hear his pizzicato from all the strings. But he stood there and plucked strings on his violin until the end. You know what they say: fake it till you make it. My son did exactly that. Nobody knew that he did not know the music.

My son stands with other students who perform a group piece. He plucked away, having never practiced before.

My son stands with other students who perform a group piece. He plucked away, having never practiced the tunes before.

If that isn’t a metaphor for homeschooling… No matter how much you prepare, you will have days when you must do something you are not fully prepared for. My adage is, fake it till you make it. It goes for many other areas of life, don’t you think?