Homeschool for mom: an update

August 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Long Blogs | 4 Comments
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In my first blog entry, I told how my family had come up with the idea of creating my own “university curriculum” since I was flirting with going back to school.  Since three weeks have passed since that post, I figured it was time for a progress report.

  • Violin lessons.  First and most importantly, I have found my violin teacher!  I had my first lesson last week.  I am happy to say that as much as I enjoyed getting acquainted with her over the phone, working with her in her studio was all the more wonderful.  I have been dutifully, and for the most part, eagerly, practicing all week on etudes (Kreutzer), scales (Flesch and just plain), exercises (double-stops), and one piece (Meditation from Thais).  It feels to me to be the perfect balance of challenge and manageability.  I am starting off with one lesson every other week, which seems to work well for my teacher as well.  And the bargain I have made with myself is my old standby – I will keep to my practice and lesson protocol imperfectly.  When I miss a day, fine, back to it tomorrow.  If we have to go an extra week or two between lessons, which will undoubtedly happen, I will have no trouble finding more to work on.

  • Composition lessons.  Not.  The husband of my teacher is a composer.  The night before my lesson I had listened to two of his compositions and liked them very much.  When my lesson was over, my teacher introduced me to her husband, and I asked him if he taught lessons in composing.  No, he doesn’t.  However, he went on, why don’t I just begin composing a piece on piano and violin and see how it goes?  Yikes!  This was a dive-right-in approach I had not expected!  And he was so pleasant and relaxed, almost innocent, about it, I found myself agreeing to try.  So…

  • Composing.  A few days ago I sat down and began to write.  It morphed instantly into a trio for two violins and cello.  I am very happy with the theme and the harmonies of the first section, of which I have written eight bars.  Well, seven and two-thirds.  It took me hours!  And I have no idea where to go from here, but then, I had had no notion of how to start until I did it.  It appears this will be a long-term project, and I promise to keep you posted.

  • Music theory school.  In the meantime, I have been tutoring a student in music theory to get her a little better prepared for her theory placement test when she arrives at her college, and Chloe has been going along for the ride.  It has been a great opportunity for me to review what I know and start to learn some more around the edges.  I have to say, it is quite dry to learn music theory from a book!  This is one discipline that is truly alive when using it, but utterly dead when on a printed page.  So I hope to find someone to work with this fall.  I know I will enjoy it far more in the company of another human being.

  • Writing my blog.  I am very excited to see that my list of subscribers and my readership in general are both on the increase!  Thank you all for sampling something along the way in the past three weeks, and for coming back for more!  Here’s the conundrum:  the more active in my home-university I become, the harder it is to keep up with the chronicles!  This is especially frustrating to me because I have been finding the writing to be a gratifying experience.  I’m pretty sure that once Dan and I return from getting Chloe settled at her college, and Rachel has settled back into her school rhythm, I will have a little more time to follow my own pursuits.  I look forward to that!

  • Sleeping.  Here on the home front we will be a little sleep deprived once school begins.  It is so very hard to get up over an hour earlier than we have been through the summer, and somehow so very easy to stay up just as late.  Darn.  Why is that?  Chloe, on the other hand, will have a class that starts at 8:00 only one day a week, and all the rest of the days she won’t start until 10:00 or later!  Hey!  I want to go to college!  Okay, that was kind of an in-house joke, just in case you didn’t pick up on it.

4 Comments »

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  1. Carla – have you experimented with the music writing programs Finale or Sibelius? They will play back to you what you wrote among many other things. I use Sibelius, find it very intuitive and LOVE it. I also use it (in playback mode) as a rehearsal pianist when I am learning music…

    • Thanks, Shauna! My husband has looked at them for me, and so far I have resisted. But now that I’m attempting to write in multiple parts I will need some way of listening back. What I did last week was either stumble through all three parts on the piano or hum one part and play the other two, but that will not hold up for long, especially once I progress to writing a quartet or a bigger chamber piece!

  2. Oh my! I can’t imagine willingly subjecting myself to Kreutzer! I think this blog entry is bringing back a complicated set of feelings from college (I was a music major). I found my composition classes to be pretty much worthless, and I don’t think I ever really “grocked” music theory until I started to play the guitar. It’s just so hard to wrap your head around the chord progressions when you’re only playing one note!

    Oddly enough, the classes that really helped me the most in a practical sense were the ear training ones. Being able to pick out the intervals as they pass by, and being able to “sight sing”… which I’m still not great at… but WAY better than I otherwise would be. These have both proved to be invaluable skills.

    I still remember the year we were studying Beethoven’s 9th. They made us go through that score and account for every single note in terms of the key and the chord progressions. I remember many comic afternoons with 4 or 5 of us connected through a complicated tangle of headphones all listening to the record in the library together. We’d play a few bars and then stop and go over our scores meticulously deciding what was a passing note, or neighbor note etc. At one point it degenerated into complete and utter confusion with several of us arguing over a few notes in the woodwind section while Helen (the girl with perfect pitch) was shouting out “I heard an A flat… I KNOW I heard an A flat!” and Brett (the comedian of the bunch) crossing out notes on the score as he proclaimed “Beethoven was deaf, he didn’t know what he was doing”!

    Oh my… here’s hoping your studies are a bit more productive than mine were!

    • Well, I don’t plan to analyze an entire Beethoven symphony! But I do love figuring out the chord progressions, and I’m hoping that will help develop my own composing skills. And though I’m sure I would have hated Kreutzer in my youth, coming to it as an aging student, I am really enjoying it! I love the logic of his chord progressions, and I appreciate being able to stick with a pattern long enough to actually learn the skill it is trying to teach. Honestly, I am surprising even myself — I must really be desperate to learn!


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