Sunday, April 27, 2008

What a day!!!

Haley on the Shore stage fiddling with the grown ups and a few of the teens who stayed.
The entire group who played on the Shore Stage for the Irish Seisen. (I know I spelled that wrong.)

Haley and Alexander on the Pinelands Stage with Next Generation Kids.

Next Generation Kids on the Pinelands Stage.
We were away from home from 8:15am until midnight!

The NJ Folk Festival was great though a little cold and I was not prepared for it. The weather station said 69 deg. but didn't mention the wind chill. Haley ended up playing in her dress, sweater, and my Mom's sweatshirt. LOL

For the Next Generation Kids session, she and Alexander (9yo boy) were the only non-teenagers and only one other teen was a fiddler. The best mic was on Haley so her fiddle was possibly the loudest. I can't tell you how many people commented about her and how many pictures/videos were taken of her. I told Ritch we should copyright her face and charge for them to build up her college fund. LOL

She also played at the adult session. Alexander had left so she was the only child. There were even more people watching and taking pictures at that one. A few older fiddlers from other groups playing watched and said they were amazed. One older man walked from one side of the stage to the other and stood right next to where Haley was playing to see if she was really playing or not. A couple songs she did not know, she picked up during the session by listening to them the first time and playing with the group the second and third. I honestly don't know how she does it. Ritch and I were sitting there whispering to each other..."she's trying to get it...she almost has it, oops...there she goes!" as she took off playing the song.

She did nap inbetween during the ride home. She was soooo wound up for the contest. She and Dyl did a great job! After she played everytime we walked down the hall to go to the bathroom people stopped us to tell us how amazing she played and that she should win. One woman came up to me urgently telling me to look into the Curtis Institute in Philly because my daughter is a prodigy and should apply if she continues with her music. I guess it is a music school, I don't know. Another woman asked where she took lessons and when she started because her 2.5yo loves music. I didn't tell her not to expect the same results... kids like Haley are rare.

They didn't win though...the professional jazz band won as I thought they would and a singer took 2nd (there were 18 of 27 acts of singers so I suspected a singer would have to place). I thought a number of other singers were more talented than the one who won especially these two younger girls who could have been in musicals but oh, well. Haley was crying on the way home but more out of exhaustion than anything else. She fell asleep instantly upon hitting her head on the pillow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Dylan loves to do manual labor. If Daddy or Poppop need help with work or around the house, they ask Dylan to help. He quietly and patiently stays nearby and waits until someone has something for him to do then happily assists. He asks questions to learn everything he can about all the equipment and how to do everything.

Last week he helped our neighbors clean up their yard a couple days and yesterday Bud gave him a small saw for cutting and sanding wood. What a great gift for Dylan. He has been so busy cutting and sanding small wooden figures. He is so careful and explains what he is doing. He has made something for everyone and today, figured out how to make a jigsaw puzzle out of one of his creations.

His Daddy bought him a "real mower." He wants to start a mowing business and has even made up business cards. He spent hours mowing our yard. The thing is so hard to push but he keeps on trying. It is amazing how hard he works when it is something that interests him.

Our cover is blown...

Today we had a really good Suzuki lesson. Haley was practicing fiddle in the car all the way there and we were running late because of traffic so she walked to the door carrying her violin. The little boy from group was walking out having just finished his lesson and his dad seemed amazed that Haley would be playing in the car (she does all the time which is one advantage to playing a very small violin). Gerry made a joke about how much quicker she would be if everyone showed up with their violins ready to go. Haley went to the bathroom and Gerry mentioned how she has noticed Haley has been practicing a lot and really loves her violin right now.

While Gerry was teaching her a technical point on one song she said it was a precurser to the first song of Book 3 then asked Haley, "You don't know Book 3, do you?" Haley started playing the first song. Gerry laughed at her and said, "Well, I hope you're not playing Book 4." Haley said, "Like this song..." and proceeded to play the last song of Book 4. Gerry seemed really shocked and she likened it to the day she accidentally gave her son her daughter's math test (who was 2 years ahead in math) and he aced it. She said she knew he was smart but suddenly it was like a different level had been reached.

I didn't tell her that Haley has been working on playing those songs for a year. She was too shocked and I didn't want to add to it. I had been trying to keep her from knowing because I don't want her to think I am trying to teach them to Haley ahead of schedule because I am not. I just let her listen to them now and then for a change of music. She laughingly told Haley not to practice Books 3 and 4 and I smiled and said, "What do you think she is playing when she is in the car?" That's usually why she plays in the car...she is listening to a CD in the car then asks me to get her violin for her...not easy to do while driving.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Haley and Dylan had a rehearsal for their upcoming talent show on Thursday night. They are one of the only child acts (the other being a 9yo doing karate). Eighteen of the 27 acts are singers and there are a handful of dancers and musicians. Many of the acts were very good and I can't imagine how the judges will pick a final winner. I don't know how you can chose between a great musician and a great dancer but I guess that will be left for someone else to decide.

While we were waiting for things to get started, I overheard one of the audition judges telling the sound technician that he had to hear "the little 5yo we have playing fiddle. She's adorable and really good." Then he noticed us sitting fairly nearby and pointed her out. When Haley and Dylan walked up to the stage to rehearse, there was a room full of "awws" and "how cutes." The minute they started playing there was a room full of jaws hanging on the floor and the cheers and claps when they finished were the loudest of the night.

We could have left after the kids finished but Haley was insistant about staying to listen to all the singers. She was so into, judging who was good and not so great. She was always right on with her opinions as far as I was concerned. It was a fun night.

On Friday, Haley had violin lessons right before the Friday @ Four concert. She was expected to play the first two Book 2 pieces at the concert but when her teacher heard her playing Hunter's Chorus, she decided that it was ready for a public debut as well. She helped Haley fix a couple tiny details and Haley played all 3 songs for the concert. A number of parents of older violists asked me how old Haley was and exclaimed that she had learned those songs so quickly having just completed Book 1. I really wished I could ask them what their children played at what ages just to give myself an idea of the timelines of some of the children whose playing I admire now but I am afraid my questions will seem more like bragging than the general curiosity of another parent who is trying to figure out what to expect in the future.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What an amazing day for my musicians...

I am always amazed by other people's reactions to Haley's musical abilities. I live with her every day so I am getting used to her playing and I know the work she puts into it and the things that come effortlessly. Even so, I am often awed by things she masters and accomplishes.

I am getting used to the fact that non-musical people and people in the community are fascinated by her playing...she is little and plays a mean fiddle/violin. I was unprepared for the reaction yesterday of two "greats" in the Celtic music world...

Yesterday morning when Haley woke from a bad dream, she quickly remembered that it was the long awaited day. She would play with Kevin Burke. She spent the rest of the morning with a huge grin across her face. The night before, she had found a small clipping in the Sunday paper advertising a concert he performed in Atlantic City and she cut it out and taped it to her wall.

When we arrived at Kathy's for lessons, Cal Scott was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. They had both spent the night after the concert the night before. Kevin hadn't yet come downstairs but when he did she and Kathy went into the kitchen. Kathy introduced them to Haley then Haley got to play with both Kevin Burke and Cal Scott. They played the Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz which Cal had written. Then they played a few other tunes together before Kevin had to leave for an appointment. Kevin Burke joked that she would be taking his job and said she could substitute for him if he got sick. Cal said he was honored to have someone so young want to play his song. They asked Haley to bring her fiddle along to the concert in case they got a chance to play a little. Kathy, her fiddle teacher, said a few people were bringing instruments so they could play a little session after the concert.

After Kevin left, she and Kathy (on harp) played some more with Cal accompanying on the guitar. After the lesson, I had to run back in to leave the payment for the lesson because I had forgotten in the excitement and Cal told me, "She's a sweetheart and absolutely amazing. Kathy says she initiated learning fiddle on her own?" I quickly told him how she had begged me to buy the How to Play Celtic Fiddle DVD at their concert last year and quickly learned the first two tunes on her own prompting me to search out a teacher seeing it as a way to prevent her learning the Suzuki songs improperly (Cal later told us his aunt had been the first Suzuki violin teacher in Oregon), leading us to Kathy.

After fiddle lessons she had Suzuki violin lessons where she played really well. I was surprised because she was still so excited about her morning. She didn't even mention it to Gerry but went about the business of violin lessons like it was a normal morning.

The whole family went to Kevin Burke and Cal Scott's concert, even Grammy and Poppop.

Her fiddle teacher said she was the main topic of conversation at the dinner table. Cal later told us that he and Kevin's jaws had dropped to the floor when they heard her play because she played with such a wonderful sense of timing, rhythem and conviction. He said she plays better than a 10 year old, actually better than a 15 year old. He went on to say how talent like that just comes along every now and then.

At their concert, Kevin and Cal dedicated The Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz to Haley and told the crowd they had met her and played with her that morning and how wonderfully she played. Throughout the concert, most of the songs they played were from the Across the Black River CD we own...and listen to nearly everyday in the car. Every time they played one of those songs, Haley turned back to look at me and mouthed, "That's my favorite song." I told Grammy, she has more favorite songs than I have favorite Christmas cookies (a little family joke).

Prior to the concert, Kathy had told Haley that when people listen to Celtic music, they usually tap their foot or clap their hands on their laps rather than clapping their hands together (at the Kane sisters concert, Haley was so enthusiastically clapping her hands the whole concert and some grumpier people had complained that it was distracting). A few times during the playing, I watched Haley begin to clap her hands, quickly remember what Kathy had said, and then she tapped them lightly on her lap with her feet bouncing away in the air since they couldn't reach the floor to tap.

At the end of the program when giving out thanks, they thanked Haley for "starting their day right." Immediately after the concert, Cal came right over to us like he could care less about anyone else in the room but Haley. I asked if I could take a picture of Haley with him and Kevin. While he went and got his guitar, I handed Haley her fiddle (without even tightened her bow or tuning her, just for a picture). He asked her to play the Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz which they did in front of everyone. Everyone was milling around talking and eating but they all stopped when Haley and Cal started playing. It was so quiet while they played and when they finished, the applause was deafening. Cal yelled, "Yo! Burke catch a bus home. I have your replacement!"
A few people even asked Haley to autograph their CDs right along with Kevin and Cal! I guess they figure if she makes it big some day, those might be worth something or they can say, "I knew her when..."

Cal came over and asked me if I had taped it and would I send him a copy. He wanted to show her to his wife back in Oregon because he had called her in the morning and told her about Haley. Some people even asked Haley to autograph their CDs along with Cal and Kevin.

Dennis and another tin whistle player had set chairs in a circle and asked Haley to grab her fiddle. She then played with the adults for awhile (about 5 songs I think before she handed me her fiddle and said she was too tired. It was 10pm). Cal Scott actually let Dylan play his 21 year old guitar (a Taylor) for The Merry Blacksmith (which made Dylan's night) and it sounded really neat with all the tin whistles, fiddles, and guitar going. Cal had taken time to talk to Dylan both during the intermission and at the end. He showed him some things about accompanying people, discussed guitars with him, and gave him a pick from his case.

I have loved their music since we saw them last year when we first heard them play. Now I see them as, not only great musicians but also wonderfully down-to-earth men. There were so many people waiting to talk to them during the intermission and after the show but they took the time to talk to my kids and actually seemed to enjoy.

Not many people get the chance to play with the musicians they most admire and here's Haley getting to play with hers at 5 years old. It is pretty amazing. I don't think Haley even understands how amazing yesterday was and how most people live their entire lives without doing what she did. Probably not a bad thing that she doesn't. This morning she said the best part of yesterday was listening to the concert.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I don't know how familiar you are with soccer and children 6 and under. If you are, then you know that most of the game consists of a gaggle of children running around kicking each other, falling down, pushing and shoving, and occassionally making contact with the soccer ball. On very rare occassions there is one or two kids on a team who win the ball from the pack, make their way down the field, and either attempt to score completely missing the goal (unless of course they have gone the wrong way down the field and score for the opposing team) or lose the ball somewhere along the way.

Goals are few and far between and generally seem more of an accident than any attempt at actual goal scoring. Most children who score jump up and down, shout over to their parents or teammates, and make a huge deal over the entire incident. During her game on Saturday morning, Haley scored...twice (well, the second time was right after the game ending whistle but to her it was a goal).

Did she jump up and down or shout?

Not my baby...she calmly walked back to the line with a sly little grin and a quick glance to make sure Mommy, Daddy, Poppop, Grammy, Newt, and Dylan were watching.