People who know about all my kids’ musical pursuits often assume that they make music together all the time at home. The truth is that they are together in group classes, orchestra and ensembles, but at home they pretty much keep to themselves. They do their individual practicing and that’s that. It takes a visit from an aunt or uncle or old family friend to provide the excuse to do anything together at home.

But this week at their violin lessons my younger two girls were given some Christmas Duets to sight-read together. The timing was perfect. Sophie can read comfortably in multiple keys and across all strings, and can manage harmony parts easily — though she can still benefit from the practice. Fiona is reading well enough that she can easily follow repeats, bowings and such in melodies that she knows by ear even when Sophie is playing contrary rhythms in the harmony. And the relationship between them is such that they relish the independence of doing this collaboratively without parental help. Sophie is a help to Fiona, and Fiona appreciates the coaching.

“Take your picture and then go away,” they said, when I discovered them squeezed into their bedroom reading through ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’ So I did. They’re still playing now.

Is it my imagination, or does Sophie’s half-size violin still look too big for her? Last May we thought that surely she was about to grow, and could move up just a little early to this lovely instrument, because it would soon fit her fine. Um… not really. Good thing her posture and left hand are really solid!

Christmas Duets

3 thoughts on “Christmas Duets

  • December 12, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    It looks like a viola, lol! But it’s obvious from the pic that she can handle it. (My 14-yo old daughter is still hoping to eventually be big enough to play a 4/4…)


  • December 12, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I love that! Take your picture and away you go!

  • December 13, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I’m glad to know we’re not the only ones in this situation — my 10yo DS is still on a 1/4 size and won’t be ready to move up for a little while at least.

    In your experience, is there much truth to the notion that having to work hard to produce mature tone on a small instrument will be beneficial later?


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