Week 3 – Done

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“Have you gotten into a rhythm yet with the new school year?” a dear friend asked me. “Yes and no,” I replied. Every week, we have had some kind of project or reason to not go full blast every single day. However, I feel like we are definitely into a school rhythm.

F-250 pulls trailer

Leaving our home to go camping; the roof top tent opens atop the trailer

Week 3 – no exception. We had to prepare for a camping trip, so Friday’s lessons got cut short. Also this week, my daughter and I got to spend some time with the middle schoolers from our co-op, in the National Park, while enjoying a back-to-school picnic and multiple games. Continue reading »

10 Years of Homeschooling

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Our summer break starts today. This concludes our tenth year of homeschooling. Our son finished 9th grade. According to the law, he started out with Kindergarten (or Year 0 as it is known in some countries). Hence, 10 years of homeschooling.

Girl playing violin

I am holding her book as she warms up before her violin recital.

Words do not come easy to describe the last decade. My husband and I are happy we went this route – let us start there. Then, we can say that we plan to continue on this road until high school graduation for both. Continue reading »

Violin Recital

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It is not December if our children do not have a violin recital. We have been doing this for nine years and it does not get old. Let me emphasize something: our children are not prodigies and it is a struggle to get them to practice more than 20 minutes a day.

Violin Recital

Our son playing at the recital

Somebody once told me that violin lessons (or any music lessons for that matter) are about much more than the violin. Continue reading »

How to Change Music Teachers

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When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a family to dissolve the bands which have connected them with a particular music teacher, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. Sorry for getting all Thomas Jefferson on you, but that’s what came to mind as I was trying to introduce our situation.

Siblings on a tree

Keep on hiking, no matter what life throws at you.

So what happened? We were not planning on changing our music teachers. Our children have been taking piano lessons from the same lady for five years. They were very happy with her methods. Continue reading »

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 »

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?