Friday, October 31, 2008

A little insight as to how much she loves that violin...

The other night as we were getting ready for bed, I was thinking how tired I was and how early I had to get up in the morning for work when I remembered that Sunday was the end of Daylight Savings Time. Thinking only of an extra hour of sleep, I turned to Haley and said, "We get an extra hour on Sunday."

With a big grin spreading across her face, she enthusiastically replies, "Great! I want to play all of Book 2 so I am ready for my concert in a couple weeks. Then I want to do more scales and arpeggios and work on my shifting!"

I don't think we have the same ideas in mind for the best use of an extra hour.

I am not the only one to notice, however. At Suzuki lessons the other day, her teacher tells us she had a dream the other night and Haley was in it. She said in the dream she, Haley, and some other people were in a room hiding from someone. She was trying to keep everyone quiet so they wouldn't be found but Haley insisted upon practicing her violin. She said she kept trying to tell her to be quiet but she just kept practicing and practicing! How funny is that??!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Dylan!!

I can't believe my Dylan is 11 years old already!! We had a good day with he and I going out shopping together for cake (my oven is broken) and stuff to cook dinner. Dylan always wants to have time alone with me on his birthday. He gets so little time alone with me because all his activities involve other kids so they all come with me.

We enjoyed our alone time then came home to help Daddy finish dinner. Dylan got a pick up for his acoustic guitar from Grammy and Poppop, a giftcard from Uncle Heath and family, and a foot pedal for his electric guitar from us. Grammy and Poppop came for dinner and a delicious ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery (chocolate chip cookie dough, yum!!!) He had fun trying out his new toys.

Playing with great fiddlers...

My little one gets so many opportunities! Last night we attended a concert given by fiddler/banjo player John Carty accompanied by guitarist Donal Clancy. John Carty's style is different than Kevin Burke's. Where Kevin Burke plays in a slinky, slurring style, John Carty plays very quickly and cleanly. We enjoyed it and appreciated hearing a different style of playing.

After the concert Haley got to play "The Little Fair Caravans" with him then played a few other tunes alone for him. It was a fun night!

Beginning to read...

Though Haley has been playing violin for 3 years, she just began to show interest in learning to read music. We began a very simple music reading program ( a few weeks ago. We had started it a few times in the past but she was not ready and quickly lost interest. Knowing how she started reading books on her own as soon as she was interested, I never pushed it. I don't think she found a need to read music that she can learn so easily by ear. This start was different, she learned it more quickly and asked to do it frequently.

She has learned all the notes on her A and E strings already and she has written out Twinkle on her own. Yesterday, I found a little violin book that had a song with piano accompaniment and the notes were all in 1st position on the A and E strings so I copied it for her and set it on her music stand while I played from the book. We played out first duet together with her reading the music!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Violin Concert...otherwise entitled "How Does She Do That?"

Haley has been learning Suzuki songs at a rather quick pace. After the summer with no lessons, she had one song she had never had a lesson on (but which I had videotaped her teacher playing so she could learn the bowings to) and three more to learn. She has had 5 lessons so far this year and has learned all of those songs. At her lessons on Monday this week, she worked on polishing up the Boccherini Minuet and playing it with the accompaniment and Minuet in G by Beethoven, both of which she was to play at a concert on Friday. At the end of lessons, her teacher asked her to quickly play the last piece (they went out of order for those of you who know Suzuki repertoire), Gavotte from "Mignon", which I had videotaped her teacher playing the week before. After she finished playing it, her teacher said that she could call her and play it over the phone for her on Thursday night and if it was easy for her to play it in order (something we had not worked on much), then she could perform it as well in the concert on Friday.

Haley worked really hard on all 3 pieces for the concert in the 3 days in between. She practiced them with accompaniment and without, polished up the spots where the bowing or fingerings were giving her trouble and learned the order of the last song. She played the Mignon over the phone and made a mistake at the end because she stopped to itch her nose then messed up the bowings and the endings of the last part but I assured her teacher that if she thought it sounded good, she had been playing it fine for the last 2 days. Here is video of her performance on Friday. I don't know how she performs better in front of a group of people than she does when practicing!

The Boccherini Minuet is not complete because my tape ran out but you can get an idea of all the parts. Her teacher said she sounded like she had completed 6 weeks of practice in 4 days! There are still a couple little improvements we can make before she does her Book 2 concert but I am so proud of how she performed on Friday.

Today, Haley and her brothers performed at a Fall Festival in the next town over. It was so cold they shivered through the performance but they did a great job considering how cold it was! Maybe we should save outdoor performances for summer!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Playing at the festival...

Every year our church hosts a Fall Festival for the community in which they have music, food, bouncy slide, games, petting zoo, pony rides, massages, face painting, etc... all free for the public.
This year they asked the kids to perform. They kids learned a number of songs together (20 minutes of Celtic tunes) and practiced nearly every night for a month to get it all together. It was hard to tell how they would sound in the basement because the drums were always too loud for the guitar and the fiddle. So, I was a bit anxious about the big day.
I shouldn't have been. They played beautifully together. Haley's new, big violin sounded great. There was a really nice sound system and the guy working it did a great job of mixing them so they sounded even better. They drew a large crowd and got a lot of applause.
Haley stood up there and announced the songs even making little jokes when her song list blew away in the breeze. She was so at home in front of the crowd. It always seems like the bigger the crowd, the better she plays. She moved around and smiled while playing. She was really having a grand time!
Newt did a great job modulating his drum sound so, unless Haley moved out from under the upper mic, she was easy to hear. He also made up the drum beats to go along with the songs...something he is getting good at.
Dylan was wonderful as well. He had the most material to learn, about 6 songs from youtube videos I sent to him in throughout the first couple weeks of the month. He learned quickly and did an excellant job playing.
I am so proud of my kids!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A big day for my fiddler/violinist...

Yesterday morning, Haley and I went to the city to purchase her new violin. Her teacher agreed with her choice but wanted us to get a better quality bow so that is what we did. Haley loves the sound of her new instrument!

Last evening was a Kevin Burke and Cal Scott concert. Haley woke up so excited because of it yesterday morning and she went to bed last night as happy and content as if it had been Christmas. She had the time of her life!!!

Kevin and Cal were there when we walked in and their faces lit up when the saw Haley. She went over, said, "Hi." and gave them pictures she had drawn yesterday (a fiddle for Kevin and a guitar for Cal). They had the chairs arranged in a semicircle around the performers so Haley picked the very front center seat. My parents and I sat behind her. The entire time they played, she was noticing Kevin's finger shape, bow arm, moving her feet in rhythm, and turning to smile to me and mouth "This one's my favorite." Toward the end of the first set, they played Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz. Kevin dedicated it "to Haley" and Cal mentioned "It is performed beautifully on youtube by another artist" while smiling at her.

When I took her to the bathroom during the break, she was beaming, "I hoped they would dedicate it to me and they did!!!" We bought a couple CDs and got them autographed. She talked to them both discussing this and that. Told Cal she had learned his song "Paris Nights." He said, "Pretty soon you'll know my whole repertoire!"

I told him she plays along to the CD whenever we're in the car. Two older men were standing nearby and one asked if she played fiddle. The other said, "She sure does and if you are lucky you'll get to hear her after the concert. She played after the last one."

They played the second set which included a lovely waltz Cal had written for his grandmother...Haley was singing it all the way home and played the first bit when we got home.

Anyway, after the concert, we got up to leave and say bye to Kathy. She said to Haley, "Why don't you ask Kevin to play a few tunes with you?" She was a little shy so Kathy went to him and asked. He immediately took his fiddle out of the case and said, "Why, sure!!"

They played together for a good 20 minutes. Cal joined in halfway through the first song and played with them. They played quite a few tunes including The Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz, Paris Nights, and the ones she had learned off the Patrick Street CD (Kevin's old band) plus a few others.

There were quite a few people still hanging around while they played...about 15-18. I could hear them all behind us asking Kathy how old she was and other questions.While they were playing Paris Nights, which Kathy didn't know she knew, I heard her saying "Wow, I've never heard her play that one before." After they played the Patrick Street songs, Kevin told her she must play those for John Carty...his fellow fiddler on the CD who will be here October 23. He told her to tell him that she learned it from Kevin (he learned it from John) and to tell him he (John) plays it wrong.

When they were finished playing my parents and I were talking to Cal...he loves Haley. My mom told him that they had made her night and last time she went around for weeks telling everyone she got to play with them. He turned to Haley and told her "After we played together last time, I told all my family and friends that I got to play with Haley and they all watched us and thought that was really neat."