Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Concerts, concerts everywhere....

Sunday afternoon, Haley had a fiddle concert with her Next Generation Kids group at the local Children's Museum from 1-2pm. While that was going on, her Suzuki teacher's recital was starting at 1:30pm in a church the next town over. Miss G, thankfully, put us 3rd to last in her concert to give us time to make the mad rush from one to the other.

The Next Generation Kids concert consisted of kids and a couple adults playing fiddle, harp, and tin whistle. They played a number of tunes, all the fiddle tunes Haley knew and she even knew the ones the tin whistles soloed on. I think only one teenager knew more tunes than Haley. Haley played almost the entire hour. She was sitting in a small chair but is so little her feet couldn't reach the floor so she tapped them in the air and occassionally leaned forward so she could hit the floor. She played a little duet on one tune with a harpist.

Since we had to rush out immediately after the show, I grabbed Haley up, gave her to Grammy to take to the potty, then put her violin away while Daddy went to get the car. Miss K. said the next day at lessons that Haley was the star of the show. She said that hundreds of people came up to her after we had left asking, "Who was that little girl." She also said that Haley was a great inspiration to the teenagers who don't put as much effort into their music as they should. "Now they will have to work harder so a 5yo doesn't show them up again"...was the way she put it.

Haley was in the local paper's online article as well....

We made it to the Suzuki concert with only 2 songs to go before Haley's turn. I was worried that she would be too tired and rushed to play her best but she walked her little self up onto that stage and played a beautiful Minuet 2 and 3. She even remembered to gesture to the accompanist so he could bow after the songs were finished.

She was so proud of herself afterward, dancing around Olive Garden, saying how well she thought she played. I was so proud of her as well. I don't know that I could have kept that many songs straight and remembered all those technical points for each one and played for an hour then rushed 10 minutes to play another 2 songs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Can there possibly be too much violin practice?

Every since Haley received her new larger violin, she has been anxious to practice. This has been a good thing because in two days she has a fiddle concert where she knows 21 pieces they are playing and a violin concert where she will play 2 pieces plus she is perfecting the last 2 pieces in Book 1 and will soon have her own Book 1 concert. But I digress....

Wednesday night I went in the bathroom while she is brushing her teeth and she says, "Mom, I am thinking about my bowhold."

I, without looking at her, reply, "What are you thinking about your bowhold?"

She says, as I turn to look at her, "I am thinking that this is a wonderful bowhold I have on my toothbrush and I can brush my teeth like I am playing Minuet 2." And there she is holding her toothbrush like a bow and brushing her teeth moving only her elbow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Suzuki Day

Yesterday, Haley and I attended a Suzuki Day in WIlmington DE. This consisted of two play-ins, a masterclass, lessons on conducting and theory, plus a parent lecture on "Creating a Musical Environment." (That one was hardly worth going to because I am way ahead of the teacher on that one. There's hardly a moment when there is not music going on in some form or another in this house.)

I came to the conclusion, during that masterclass, that Haley's teacher suggests we attend these events primarily to secure her position as my child's teacher. When I see other children playing whether they are behind or ahead of Haley in the Suzuki repertoire, I appreciate completely Miss Gerry's goals for Haley's playing and the fact that she is very consistent in expecting a certain level of playing before she allows her students to advance. I am sure with most other teachers Haley would be playing songs in Book 3 by now (she knows the notes to all of them already anyway) but Miss Gerry is wonderful about bringing along the quality of her playing and establishing strong technical skills.

I watched the other children playing in Haley's master class with technically correct playing (proper notes and bowing patterns) but horrid tone and complete lack of musicality. I don't blame the students or even their parents at all. I know Miss Gerry would never have allowed them to advance as far as they have with that type of playing so I blame the teacher. I think it is a complete disservice to the children. I am so thankful that we found Miss Gerry because Haley would be one of those children if we hadn't found her.

After the second play-in a number of strangers came up to me and commented on Haley's playing ability. In a group of 40 students, I don't know how they could possibly have picked out her actual playing but she does stand out a bit in that her whole body is involved in her playing and she loves it. A good friend suggested that she "doesn't just play, she performs." Maybe that is what people notice about her.

All in all it was a good day. I purchased a violin stand for Haley to use so she doesn't have to put her violin away in the case every time she uses it. It has worked to make her violin more accessible and last night even after an entire day of playing, she practiced on her own twice more that night.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Since my oldest turned 12 years old a little more than a month ago, a miserable, pessimistic, preteen has snatched the body of the boy who once was my son. I don't know what became of the child who once was my sweet little boy but would gladly get him back if I could. Until now, I often heard of this happening but never would have thought it would happen to my child.

Is it hormones? An incredible need to find his own place in this world without as much parental interference? Whatever?

I am exaggerating a bit. He is not as bad as many preteens I have seen but he has changed in some almost indefinable way. He needs more alone time. He now rolls his eyes or pretends not to hear when asked for help. He is harder to break into a smile. I know it is normal for kids to change when puberty begins to approach. I feel like I am almost mourning for the child he once was while still looking forward to the teenager he is becoming. What a strange age this is.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My amazing kids...

Yesterday, I took the kids out for the day. I had to see a couple clients in the morning while they did their schoolwork either in the car or at a client's kitchen table. Afterward we went to Best Buy then Target so they could spend their Christmas giftcards. They each had a pile of giftcards and money saved up but I had put off shopping until the holidays were over so the stores wouldn't be crowded. At Best Buy, Dylan was being very secretive and asked if he could check-out by himself so Haley and I went out to the car while the boys checked themselves out. He was all smiles as he got into the car and proudly handed his little sister a "Highschool Musical" game she wanted for her Nintendo DS and told her "Merry Christmas." I couldn't help but tear up at his generosity. (It also reminded me that I should have taken him shopping prior to Christmas.) At Target he insisted on buying something for his brother as well, a Rubix cube game he wanted. My son is the most amazingly generous child! I am so proud of him.

At Haley's violin lesson, her teacher asked her what she would like to be when she grew up and she said "a doctor." (In bed last night she informed me that after talking to her teacher at lessons, she thinks she might want to be a musician instead. I told her she didn't have to decide right now anyone so keep her options open.) Anway, she then told her teacher about doctors at St.Jude's Children's Hospital who help sick children learn to ride bikes and try to make them well. Miss Gerry asked if St. Jude's was a family project and I had to admit that I had no idea where Haley had heard it. She informed up both that she saw a commercial about it on Noggin and thought she might like to play her violin for sick children to help them feel happy.

Miss Gerry said that she would help Haley with a concert or a benefit if she wanted (she didn't realize how far away St. Jude's is). At home I sent an email to Children's Hospital of Phila. but in a reply today, they said they don't allow children under 16 to volunteer due to infection control issues. A benefit may still be possible though I will have to check with Miss Gerry to see how we would go about organizing one.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Music thoughts....

Last night, Haley was begging for a piano lesson so after she practiced fiddle I taught her a couple short songs from the John Thompson book. She quickly figured them out then picked up the Phantom songbook she had to have and said she could try to play those songs now. She only picked out the melodies but I was amazed at how she, after only a couple sessions sitting at the piano had figured out the intervals between the notes. It first occurred to me when she was picking out the Christmas song melodies...she doesn't make mistakes when she picks them out. It is like she knows exactly where the sound she wants is on the keyboard. Whereas when I am picking out a song on piano there is a lot of trial and error.

After she was finished, I sat with the Phantom book and read the music to play a couple of the songs (with Haley dancing around with her cape, singing at the top of her lungs). I realized that when I read music...I see the note on the page then know it's position on the keyboard. I don't think about the sound at all until I play it and hear it (then I correct a mistake using the sound but still checking it with the note on the page).

Last night I could hardly sleep because it occurred to me that maybe that is the difference between an average player and a really good one. I sees the note and associates it with the position on the keyboard while Haley sees the note and associates it with the the sound and it's postiion are one in the same. Does that make any sense?

I wonder if that is why her ear is so good or if it is because her ear is so good that she thinks that way.