Friday, December 10, 2010

HD Crash

Our Hard Drive crashed the other day, so I'll be busy for a bit gathering resources again.

Hope to post again in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unexpected Nature to Study

So with winter, we haven't been getting outside as much as I'd like, and we haven't really done a proper nature study since before Golf was born. Delta and Echo have asked when we would do a Nature Study....

Well, we haven't done much but we did get a surprise opportunity to observe some nature from out window.

On Thursday, Delta looked out our front window and said "there is a deer in our yard!" It didn't stay very long, but we all got a good look. Now, deer are often in our neighbourhood, especially at night - but we don't see them very often during the day. So I'm figuring - what are the chances? Well, on Friday - there was a deer in our yard again. It didn't stay long but we did get a quick glimpse. On Saturday, we saw 2 run through the yard. And today? Well, I was at church, but Delta and Foxtrot were home with dad because they were sick - and apparently there was one in the yard again today.

Delta had the chance on Friday or Saturday to be outside for a while, and he observed their tracks (apparently at some time - probably at night - a deer came almost right to our living room window.) Delta has also observed their "scat" in our yard.

Ask and ye shall receive?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Suzuki Update

I seem to be having a big drought of wonderfully insightful ideas to share with everyone, so I thought I'd share how Suzuki violin has been going with the Maple Hill Academy recently.

We just had our Winter concert, and that went quite well. Delta played in about 7 or 8 of the songs, including Minuet 1 which he had just gotten passed off by the teacher to play in the concert. Echo played in 3 of the songs. And I've discovered that my camera doesn't have enough space to tape all their songs anymore. It has the biggest SD card it can use, and that size card is so small that you can't find them to buy more. Oh well, I guess I know what is on my wish list.... but I don't think that wish will be granted for a while.

Delta has gotten a lot better with practices now. I had seen an improvement before, but the last couple of weeks he has really improved (although he still sometimes gets upset when it is time to start.... but then works hard.) I think he has seen the relationship between practice and progress. And he is in a group class now that is all boys about the same age, and all in the last few songs of book 1... and a couple seem to progress a bit faster, and he wants to play more songs.

Then, the last 2 weeks, I changed a bit of how we are doing the practice - giving him a little more input into things. The changes are based on things that I've read on the internet at various places.

First, I found a chart for handling review songs a bit better. Before we had been trying to do each review song once a week - but that just didn't always work. Now we have categorized all the songs he can play. A songs are ones that he doesn't feel he could ever forget. B songs are ones that he feels really confident on. C songs are ones that could use a bit more work, or more polishing. D songs are ones that really need work - either recent ones, or ones that he forgot. We will categorized the songs every 2 weeks. A songs are played once in the 2 week period. B songs twice. C songs 4 times, and D songs are done each day. A couple of the D songs are chosen to be specifically worked on. I let Delta decide where each song was categorized, and over-all I think he did a pretty good job. This was part of his input.

Then I took our basic checklist type practice sheet for the week. The list now seems a lot more manageable, as things are grouped together more. Basically, his list this week was: Tonalizations, Review Songs (he needs to do 3 to 4 a day to handle the A-C lists over the 2 weeks), His "Lick" assigned by the teacher (or any other assignments from her), his "D-list Songs", His "Name" song (will discuss below), his Reading practice, and his new song. He can pick which order he does these (and if he is going to do it all at once or break it up into a couple of different practice sessions in the day.) He also is selecting the review songs... sometimes he just chooses, sometimes he spins a spinner we have, and sometimes he draws from cards I made up with all the songs. If he picks one randomly that he has already practiced enough for the 2 week period, he just picks another (until they have all been done - then he can pick whatever.)

For the D List songs, we are playing the game from the "I love to practice kit" for the song we want to focus on most days, although that depends a bit on our time etc. We have only owned the kit for a few months, and the first few times we used it, he didn't seem to like it so much - so I put it away.... but he seemed happy to try it again, and when he saw how quickly he pulled together Minuet 1 from barely able to play through it to playing it well in just a couple of days, I think he is "sold" on it.

Now - the new incentive/progress tracking thing.... the "Name Songs". This also will tie in nicely with the "AAA club" that is new to our Suzuki program here. That is the Anytime, Anywhere, for Anybody club. Basically, there will be some recognition for students that have 10 songs that the teacher and student has signed as being able to be played with a skill of 10/10, and could be played anytime, anywhere, for anybody. However, the Name Songs is a little different, and was an idea I found on the internet. I used Word to make a sign that has my son's name and the words Book 1 on it. So it would say "Delta Book 1". I picked a nice font for it, and setup the format of the font to "Outline" so that the words can be coloured in. Then I took the printout, added a few lines to break the words up into 22 parts for the 22 songs in book 1, (6 twinkle variations, and 16 other songs) and then I numbered them lightly with pencil. For each song, there will be 2 stages.

The first stage, Delta will play the song CORRECTLY at home 25x in a week, not missing any days. (He is doing about 6x each day, to allow for the odd day when practice might be cut short and he can only play the song once...) Correctly means correct fingerings, correct bowing, but not necessarily with the dynamics. They can even stop-place-play if desired. Oh, the 25x correctly don't have to be in a row, but any incorrect playings don't count. Once he has played the 25x correctly, he gets a small sticker on the number on his sign, and moves to stage 2.

The second stage, Delta will continue to practice the song each day as much or as little as he feels necessary to polish in items like the dynamics and timing. Once ready he will ask the teacher to "test" him for the song for the AAA club (if we didn't have the AAA club, he would just ask to be tested on the song being polished). Once that song has been accepted as a 10 by both him and the teacher, he will get to colour in that part of his sign.

We just started the "name songs" a week and a half ago, and he has been working hard on the twinkles. Of course they are easy songs for him, but it is great to see him eagerly working at getting 25 repetitions in for the week. And it is creating a good habit of really working at repeating a song correctly that will aid him with the harder songs. I am looking forward to seeing him get to colour in his sign. The making of this sign has also made him notice how close he is getting (in the number of songs) to the end of book 1.

Now all that said, Echo hasn't been at all interested in her name sign, and has not wanted to work on her "name songs" at all. In fact, she doesn't seem to interested in practice at all, and isn't liking the "I Love to Practice Kit" still.