Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘music’

Lesson #2: One thing at a time (ctd).

When I posted yesterday’s post about doing one thing at a time, I went off on a tangent and completely lost the focus and point of the post. Let me back track a little and explain where I should have been headed with that.

There is SO much I want to do in life. By my calculations I’m between a third of the way and half way through this mortal coil, and I have accomplished less than that percentage of what I had set out to do at the start (when I became self-aware). I want to learn to play guitar (and piano, ‘cello and violin). I want to learn to speak Zulu fluently – not to mention Spanish, Italian and French. I want to be able to bake anything, draw perfectly, paint like a Renaissance Master, and dance. I want to plant a garden that survives my efforts, have a thriving vegetable and herb patch (that sustains us), build a fish pond and give the girls horse-riding lessons. I want to travel the world. I want to knit toys and blankets and clothes, learn to crochet, and make gifts with that skill. I want to write a book. (Well, books, plural). I want to … well, you get the drift. There’s a LOT I want to do, and in between all of that my deepest desire is to be doing full-time missions work in some remote location (that miraculously has both electricity and internet!). It’s not even that I’m an overachieving perfectionist. It’s just that those things all sound so cool, and we only have a short time here, so why not make the most of it, right?

What invariably happens is that I become so overwhelmed with the range of options and the complete lack of a starting point that I sit in mute horror staring at the whizzing-by-ness of my life, not doing anything at all. In other words, I don’t accomplish a single thing on my list, which is worse than only accomplishing some of it.

That’s what led me to the one-thing-at-a-time philosophy. I have picked a few key things, and I am starting with those. So this week, DD#1 will start learning to write letters. DD#2 will gain a little inner peace when she worries about the Lost. I will start to learn to draw butterflies. And we have all started learning Zulu. We can now say:

  • Sawubona (Hello).
  • Unjani? (How are you?)
  • Ngiyabonga. (Fine thank you).
  • Ngubani igama lakho? (What is your name?)
  • Igama lami ngu [Name]. (My name is [Name]).
  • Sala kahle. (Go well/goodbye).
  • Hamba kahle. (Stay well/goodbye).
It’s not much and it’s far from perfect but it’s a start, and that is the key thing. It is a lot more Zulu than we could speak a week ago.


Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing enough as far as home schooling goes. It seems to take enough time to get through everything we try to accomplish each day, but just because it takes long, does that mean it’s enough? And how much of it really sticks?

One of the things I like about Konos is the timeline. Every time we learn about a new subject, there’s bound to be a person involved somewhere along the way, and that person goes onto the timeline as a permanent visual reminder of what we’ve been learning about. Very cool.

The massive lever arch files that make up the three volumes of Konos are thorough but not detailed. One page may contain 20 activities, and you select the ones you’d like to do with your kids, then do them. I usually tick them off so that I can remember what I’ve covered already. But here’s where I fall down: the course work will say something like, “Learn about woodwind instruments.” The resources page lists useful books on each subject, but since we started using Konos in November, I haven’t been able to find a single one. We can often improvise, but since I never really know what I’m looking for (having not found a single one as a reference), it feels a lot like guesswork.

What I have found is that the internet is a veritable wealth of information. From biographies to worksheets to videos and sound clips, I have yet to be disappointed. (And watch this space: I’ll let you know if the Great Google lets me down).

This week we’ve been “studying” music. We found a great book at the library: The Usborne Book of Music. Every day we work though a few pages, and then I go online to demonstrate what we’ve learnt. On Monday we saw a guy making toy guitars from foamcor and elastic bands. (Then he plugged it into an amp and it went from cute to awesome). We also had a look at the inner workings of a piano while someone played a concerto – amazing! Much better than I could have done at home, especially not having an actual piano.

On Tuesday we learned about the violin. We read the biography of Paganini and Stradivarius, then watched and listened to Vanessa Mae and another awesome violinist whose name escapes me playing Paganini compositions on YouTube. After that I downloaded and printed worksheets on the violin: a colouring in sheet for DD2 and a “name-the-parts” sheet for DD1 (with the answers on a separate sheet for me!)

Wednesday saw baroque music and wind instruments. I played Beethoven’s moonlight Sonata, Prokfiev’s Peter and the Wolf (sadly not Ustinov – it wouldn’t play!), and someone playing a piccolo. What a great way to demonstrate what a piccolo is! They were enchanted and want to act out their own Peter and the Wolf (when Daddy fixes the sound on the Peter Ustinov version!).

In the afternoon DH played a DVD of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the Ballet) for the girls, and again, they were enchanted. Now they want to dance (as they have for a long time), but also to play the violin, flute, recorder and piccolo. So perhaps something is going in after all. It’s not the kind of in-depth studying we did in High School but, after all, that’s a number of years away.

I like worksheets because they provide a visual record of what’s been studied, as well as giving an opportunity to work on writing and spelling skills. Wednesday’s worksheets can be found on these great sites:

I also really love the enchanted learning website and would love to subscribe to it, since it offers a lot of what I need.

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