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 »

Orchestra Camp

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Since 2016, our children have been attending the Knoxville Youth Symphony Orchestra summer camps. We had to skip in 2021 because of the mask mandate and there was no camp in 2020.

Orchestra Camp

Our daughter on the first day of orchestra camp

This year, our daughter really enjoyed her time at orchestra. Our son, unfortunately, had a conflict. He attended a computing camp at Southern Adventist University and it happened on the same week. However, he was able to attend the concert on the last day of camp, to support his sister from the audience.

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 »

Lessons from the 28th Week

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Last week, we prepared for the piano festival in which the kids participate every year. It is called Federation Festival. We have been doing this with them for four years now. Every time, they get five stars out of five. For every third year of five stars, they get a cup. The cups get bigger in size as they advance in years.

Knoxville First String Ensemble

Knoxville First String Ensemble – Playing violin with my two children is so much fun!

It is a great challenge for them to learn two pieces by heart and two hymns. They can use the books for the hymns. If we had to move to a different location, the local festival organizers would take us in at our actual level. They recognize the diplomas nationwide. 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?