Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Solfege Geek

M and I are learning the piano.  It's so fun!  It's also really hard! 

I've been reading about Growth Mindset lately so my enjoyment of the challenge is very gratifying. 

M is taking lessons with our friend A who is teaching her a combination of Suzuki and Piano Adventures.  The Piano Adventures focus on note reading with simple songs, and developing sight reading skills.  To add notation to the Suzuki, I write out the text we've learned or invented for the tune.  M colors in a table below the words, that represents the measures, with the color her teacher assigned that pattern.

I'm working on teaching her music in general with solfege.  The solfege instruction looks like us learning a song with words, then singing the tune in solfege. 

Recently M is learning Au Clair De Lune.  The left hand has so many different patterns, that the color system breaks down.  There are 9 different measure contents.  So the repetition is low, and memorizing what color means what pattern, is onerous.

We didn't have the book when we first got this song, so I used solfege to transcribe out the left hand.  Hurray Solfege!  Then I got the book and found that there is a discrepancy between the book and the CD.  Apparently there is a lot of discussion on the shoddy work of the CDs and Books.  It's really surprising that those typos and errors would not have been fixed.  Suzuki seems like such an establishment.

The next song in the book we'll do with the color patterns because there are only 4 patterns and 1 variation. 

Lots of tools in this tool box.

I was thinking about why I love the Solfege so much.  It's a big picture thing.  Also it's a lot like sign language.  You have word combinations in English that mean the same thing, so you sign them with the same sign.  That drives some people crazy.  They don't feel like they are getting an exact translation.  Bah.   You also have specific words in English that mean different things.  Second.  Produce.  Came.  The list is really long.  We face decisions daily on how we will translate this or that word/phrase. 

Solfege tells you the relationship of notes to each other, and helps you predict how they will act.  Similarly family names like Mom, Dad, Grandma... tell us who someone is, to another person, more than their given name. 

And sign language is a lot like that too.  The meaning of the word "second" changes if it is in the sentence "I'll be there in a second."  versus  "I came in second."  And neither of those sentences use the word "in" in the sense of being contained.  So close, but really very different.

Similarly, there are 12 notes (A Bb B C C# D Eb E F F# G G#) in our tonal system, not bothering with enharmonic spellings.  The 7 solfege notes (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do) describe the relationship between these notes in action.  There are hundreds of note relationships, and solfege makes meaning from them.  I love it!  Even accidentals make sense, rather than just being unexpected.

I went to college with this guy who is combining solfege in his piano method.  Cool!
Piano approach with solfege

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trick or treat!

Tonight we went to the community party, then trick or treating to a few neighbors.  It was lovely.  This is the children's first time going door to door, ever!  We always lived in apartments with no kids.  Then we bought this lovely home 2 years ago, on Halloween.  Then last year the church party was on Halloween and by the time we got home it was late.

So what totally surprised me was how cool it is to have an excuse to go up to your neighbors house, introduce yourself, beg for candy, and go on to the next.

Geoff seemed to have an upset stomach so we came home after just 8 houses with a surprisingly large pile of chocolate.  Nice!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Things that are nice

We bought a digital piano with weighted keys when it became obvious that M needed one (that piano wasn't a nightmare to deal with) and we had the money after buying a van and paying for B's birth.  And even though P pulled one of the keys up (middle D) and we haven't gotten that fixed yet... there are a lot of great things about a digital piano. 

We can split the keyboard so M and I are playing unison at the same time. 

Head phones!

Built in metronome.

Different sounds that motivate M to play sometimes that extra set of reps.

Head phones again because when M wakes up early she can, and does go in and play her pieces without waking anyone!  Wonderful.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

homeschool decor'

 We're using organ benches for desks.  We considered buying lift top desks, but figured this was a good solution for now.  It's really nice for each of the kids to have a place to put some papers and things that otherwise would clutter up the kitchen counter.  G uses a sewing table that I converted into a desk with a photography developing tray stapled into the compartment that would otherwise hold a sewing machine.  It was a curbside find that didn't have all the necessary parts to be a sewing table.
The little stools are milk crates with a pillow on top, covered with this fabulous Joseph-technicolor-dream-coat fabric.  Today M cut out the stitching that held the covers onto the crates so she could use the pillows.  Sometimes there is a severe kink in her think.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This dream...

  The beauty of Children's Network is that in making the children's dreams come true, they make the parents dreams for their children come true.

Watch the video!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The parable of the good eraser

This year when it was time to buy school supplies I drank the koolaid of the Ticonderoga pencils.  "Worlds best pencil" the box declared.

"Worlds best pencil"? I thought.  How could it be so different.  Yet the lure of a pencil that works better caught my attention and I paid the extra dollar for the pack of 24.

My focus was on how these Ticonderoga pencils would be better for writing. 

We had been having problems with some of our old pencils.  The lead was broken inside so we kept having to sharpen them again and again.  Maybe these fancy new pencils would be less inclined to break inside.

What surprised and amazed me was how good the eraser is on these pencils.  Any time there is a mistake we can just flip it over and clean it up.  We didn't need to fear making mistakes as in the past. Mistakes meant using the terrible eraser that just made a pink smudge.  Mistakes meant stopping to go search for that pink eraser M got for Christmas. 

Yesterday G was doing his math homework; subtraction with borrowing.  He made a mistake on the first problem.  I noticed the mistake but wouldn't let him erase it.  He had one of the terrible pencils.  So we stopped doing the work all together, until we got one of the good pencils.

They're amazing!

They're so good they got me thinking about how often we think that our ability to DO is the most important thing.  But our ability to notice our mistakes and fix them, is more important.  Could we just be perfect and never need an eraser?  Maybe.  But when you're learning, you will make mistakes.

Last night I finally came to the realization of how the Savior is like an eraser.  Imagine that this life is a test.... that's a familiar phrase.  Sometimes we need an eraser just to bubble in our name properly!  You could go through the test, answer all the questions, or some, and turn it in.   If we aren't willing to examine our answers, the eraser does us no good.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Conducting the Band

Having G for a son is funny, fun, inspiring, and often there are wonderfully ironic times.  We get to participate with Dance Marathon because G had cancer.  No I would not like for anyone to have cancer, but Dance Marathon is pretty great. 

2 years ago G and some other miracle kids got to go on the field during the Orange and Blue game and meet Coach Myer.  4 years ago Tebow showed up at the main event and played ball with G. 
It's been the opposite of a downward spiral.  We've had the chance to do so many cool things at UF because G is a miracle.

This Friday G will conduct the Gator band for the fight song during half time.  P and I are both blown away by this awesome opportunity.  It's like a "make a wish" for P.  Except it would be P conducting...  But it's beautiful and ironic that the deaf son of 2 band teachers would have this opportunity.