Blogging about music, family life, the outdoors, unschooling and everything else

for more than a quarter century

Long time, no blog!

It’s been a busy month. The local music summer school began a few days after I last wrote. Erin and Noah were registered as piano students, and Sophie insisted at the 11th hour that she be enrolled too, as a violin student. Erin squeaked into the “Lower Advanced” piano class and was also registered in the string chamber music program. She capably held her own in both programs with much older kids. What I’m most proud of is how she performed on violin. She was placed in a string quartet to work up two movements of the Haydn Op. 74 No. 3 quartet in B-flat major. It is not a real “beginner” quartet; it’s fairly sophisticated classical music with a fair share of technical and musical challenges. She did just amazingly well with phrasing, balance, dynamics and other musicality issues on a new half-sized violin and bow. I was very proud. They got a huge ovation from the audience. The average age of the quartet was 12 1/2 and they sounded pretty darn sophisticated.

Noah had of course recently switched from violin to viola and he has made incredible strides with tone and musical confidence. He had a stellar lesson with the viola specialist who said all sorts of really nice things about his playing and his potential. His piano experience was a little underwhelming, but he really enjoyed the social atomosphere of the class and discovered that his note-reading and new-piece-learning skills are much stronger (compared to other students at his level) than he’d thought. He easily learned his 4-hands duet part while his older more experienced partner struggled.

Sophie was in the beginner master class and was the most advanced student and the only girl. She worked with a really nice accompanist and learned to give cues at the beginning of pieces and after fermatas.

After the summer school our friends had their baby, much to everyone’s delight. And amazing home birth of an amazing little girl. We went for visits: to see the baby, to play with the older kids, and to take the family meals.

We spent some time renovating the little cabin. The kids helped paint, hammer, clean and carry stuff. We installed the beginnings of a low-flow irrigation system in the garden.

Then the kids’ other grandmother (my mother-in-law) came for a visit. Things have been very low-key since then, since she’s mostly interested in spending time with the kids at home. We’ve been to the beach, the market, out for dinner a couple of places, and for a couple of social visits, but have mostly been at home. We’ve done lots of gardening together.

The kids have been pretty creative and self-sufficient at home. I think they appreciate the chance to be home with no outside committments for a while. They’ve played outside together lots. They’re practising violin and piano well. Noah and Sophie are doing lots of math. Noah finished up the second half of Singapore 2B in 3 days and is enjoying the beginning of 3A. Sophie has moved on into the Miquon Blue Book. Erin is doing some music theory bookwork each evening when the middle two do their math. She doesn’t enjoy it but did sort of promise her teacher she’d do some work through the summer. I haven’t made a big deal about it, so she’s managing to make herself do it.

Our family readalouds are happening again more regularly. On the go right now are “The Tale of Desperaux” by Kate di Camillo, “The Dark is Rising” by Susan Cooper and “The Lantern Bearers” by Rosemary Sutcliff. Erin had lost interest in this nightly ritual for a while. She joined us again when we started doing our readalouds by Itty-Bitty Booklight while lying on the big air mattress on the lawn under the stars. We saw an amazing Northern Lights display one night, and lots of shooting stars and satellites.

Soon we’ll be sidling into our fall routine. I hope we can keep things sane.






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