Home education diary, May 2005

May 11th

Tim did some of his NCSC home education coursework this morning, for the first time in a few days. Dan actually did some a couple of weeks ago during the Greek Easter break - for the first time in many months! -  and completed three of the workbooks (or 'paces' as they're called) so he now has only twelve left for the second level. Tim still hasn't quite completed the first level. They do seem to get on faster when I don't worry about it at all and they choose their own times for the work.

Tim also did a good hour's piano practice this morning, and then baked some American-style courgette muffins. Then he spent some time online at one of his forums. If I were making a note of what he does academically speaking in his home education, I could say that he did English, maths and chemistry (those were the courses he worked on) as well as music, home economics and ICT. Not bad for one morning. 

Dan, meanwhile, was at a drama performance in Nicosia. He left at 7am, which meant I had to set my alarm for just after 6am... but I don't mind an early start to the day. He got back in time for lunch. Tim had a piano lesson this afternoon, and Dan was back at the theatre doing the sound for the children's production rehearsal. Now Tim's playing his guitar and Dan's at karate.

Two books have just arrived for Daniel which we hadn't expected for at least a couple more weeks. They're American manuals about instrument repair, which is his current passion. There don't seem to be any useful books on this topic in the UK - or not at Amazon.co.uk anyway - but a bit of searching revealed several possibilities in the USA, and the clarinet list which Daniel's on recommended two or three of them. He's very pleased with them. (from Cyprus life blog 11/05/05)

May 13th

Daniel had his first (impromptu) violin lesson today. The theatre group did their performance in Nicosia outside, then ran some workshops for the children. It was a Greek-speaking school, so three Greek-speaking theatre staff were leading them. Daniel was sitting watching with the violinist (who also doesn't speak much Greek) and since he had been thinking for a while that he would like to learn the violin, he asked her if he could have a quick lesson. 

So she explained how to hold the violin, and how to stand, and how to move the bow, and the basic theory... and then taught him one of the theme tunes from the play. I gather he learned fairly fast; she said he had a good ear, but I imagine that it was easier for him because he plays other instruments and has done music in general for many years now.

Dan had a clarinet lesson this afternoon, and arrived home with an extra clarinet - one of the spare ones from the music school, which he says is in dire need of a service. He asked if he could borrow one to experiment on, and while his teacher was a little cynical, Dan explained that he needed some practice in re-padding and re-corking. 

He still needs some tools, but he's found a supply place in Nicosia that sells pads, and he's been reading his two books to find out the correct techniques for various repair-work. He isn't going to do anything major yet, but wants to get started on the most common maintenance that has to be done.

Meanwhile Tim went with Dan to the music school because Dan had told him that there's a clavinova type electronic piano in the band room that's barely used. He got permission to play it, and spent an hour and a half enjoying it.

Earlier this morning Tim worked out how to play 'Amazing Grace' on his bass guitar, having seen a fabulous performance on a music DVD of someone doing that as a solo in concert. Tim's quite capable of playing it on his ordinary classical guitar, or his acoustic guitar, or indeed the piano, but I gather it's a great deal more complicated on a bass.

It still sometimes strikes me how very odd it is to have two such musical sons without either Richard or myself playing any instruments. (from Cyprus life blog 13/05/05)

May 18th

The past week has been taken up with the temporary fostering of some orphaned kittens - a new life experience for us all, and highly educational. This morning, Tim did a History test for his coursework for which he got 100%. I was pleased and somewhat surprised; however he said it was quite easy. 

Dan spent most of the morning working on a friend's clarinet which needed some repairs. He's being very careful only to do the simpler tasks such as replacing pieces of cork, and he's checking with his two books every stage of the way, as well as searching the archives of the clarinet forum. He's keeping notes of everything he does, too. And he says he's thoroughly enjoying it! So I guess he can say he started his career properly today, although of course he won't be doing any paid repair work for some time, probably not until he's done one of the relevant courses. (from Cyprus life blog, 18/05/05)

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