Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tout Ensemble

Over the past four weeks N. participated in a chamber music workshop for young musicians.  He played two Bagatelles by Dvorak (with two violins and a cello) and Faure's Sicilienne (Op. 78, with a flute player).  The groups had several rehearsals before their performance this past weekend.

I'm always seeking out opportunities for N. to make music with others because I think this is such a thrilling experience (especially rare for young pianists), and it enhances your musical development in unique ways to listen to the other musicians and truly make music together.  So I loved how this workshop was conceived: each ensemble worked together for two hours per rehearsal, half of that time with an adult coach, and half of that time without a coach.  On their own, without a coach or teacher telling them what to do, the kids had to talk with each other about which parts of the music they needed to work on, make decisions collectively about tempo, dynamics, and other aspects of interpretation.  Just like grown-up chamber musicians!  We were proud of their performance, but I think these collaborative rehearsals were the most valuable part of the experience.

I'm so grateful to the organizers for putting this workshop together!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Current Reading

I don't like to read more than one book at a time, so I was amused today to realize that we are all reading multiple books right now.  I am reading two books aloud to N. at bedtime and throughout the day: Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield and Grayson by Lynne Cox.  Understood Betsy, published in 1916, tells the story of a girl who moves from a coddled, overprotected urban life to a rural life where she develops competence and self-sufficiency.  N. and I are really enjoying it; N. has remarked several times that it reminds him of Mary Lennox's transformation in The Secret Garden.  Grayson tells the true story of extreme swimmer Lynne Cox's encounter with a baby whale when swimming off the California coast when she was seventeen.  Cox's account is both lyrical and scientifically rich.

N. is alternating among Whittington by Alan Armstrong, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart, and Logicomix, a graphic novel about the life and work of Bertrand Russell (whose autobiography Tim read to N. over the past year).

In his reading aloud to N., Tim alternates between Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi (which he read to N. several years ago, though N. doesn't remember it) and The Case for Pluto.

I am reading The Mysterious Benedict Society (at N.'s request) and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Tim's reading isn't pictured here but he just finished The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd for the literature tutorial he does with a high-school-aged homeschooler and he's about to start The Answer to the Riddle is Me.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who wrote the book on love?

 N. spent 4 1/2 hours in the car on a road trip with my parents in March, and apparently most of that time they listened --on repeat-- to a 3-CD box set called The Golden Era of Rock 'N' Roll, 1954-1963. We were reunited with a 9-year-old who was suddenly obsessed with The Platters, The Penguins, The Five Satins, The Elegants, The Monotones, etc.  My parents then got him his own copy of the box set and he's well on his way to having the entire thing memorized.  One night he and Tim stayed up late watching a seemingly endless stream of Chuck Berry clips on YouTube.  Another night was devoted to an old compilation CD of doo-wop hits.  I hear him singing snatches of these old tunes around the house, or when he's supposed to be going to sleep.  I admire and marvel at the voraciousness of children's passions.  It's not enough to merely enjoy something; N. consumes it single-mindedly it till it is completely internalized!