2017 String Camp

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For the second year in a row, I took the kids to String Camp in Knoxville. The youth symphony has four levels of orchestras during camp time and it is a wonderful time for the kids to grow, learn, and have fun while making friends and enjoying themselves.

Boy and girl at String Camp

My kids on day 2 of camp

This year, they were in two separate orchestras, as opposed to last summer, when they were both in the beginning orchestra. My son has gone to the next level, called Overture, while my daughter is still in the beginning orchestra, called Prelude. She has only studied violin for two years now and will need another year before she could go to the next level.  Continue reading »

Her orchestra learned two songs and my son’s orchestra learned four songs. Here’s a YouTube link to the Overture concert and here’s another link to the Prelude orchestra. At the end, all orchestras came together for Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 – a camp tradition.

String Camp is this magical time of the year, when we drive to Knoxville early in the morning, rehearse, do a workshop, then drive back. After lunch, I let them play and do whatever they want, but they still have to practice one hour before dinner.

We listen to the recordings during meals so they get used to the new music faster. It is so strange to know nothing about this music the week before, only to fall in love with it in seven short days.

It is a week of exponential growth for the kids. They also have fun because of the workshops which include some stretches and light physical activity, music theory, and sight reading. Then, there are the snacks. On Friday, they have a pizza lunch and a movie right before the concert. Since we don’t watch a full movie at one time at home, this is a special treat for them. This year, they watched “Happy Feet 2.”

We already look forward to next year’s camp. Until then, we will be preparing to audition for the 2017-2018 youth orchestra season, which starts in September.


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.