Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Letting Off Steam by Rocking the Rach

We have released at least some of the steam that's been building up in our house. SOME. But it was enough. Whew!

Ellie is getting ready for conservatory/college auditions. She had a recital and it was standing room only - tons of people. Before the recital she was featured on Texas Public Radio's Classical Spotlight....which is duh....a radio show. They interviewed her (she did very well) and they also filmed her for their radio blog.
I love it how she just looks up when she's done like, "Okie dokie, what's next?" So there was a ton of practicing to get ready for the recital - obviously. And even though there is still a ton of practicing going on, and an upcoming trip to Philadelphia to have a lesson at Curtis, having the recital behind us has let off some of the steam, for sure. At the recital Ellie received the Artist Award from the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio. It's a pretty big deal. Here is Ellie and her teacher, Ken, looking all relaxed after the recital - posing all coolio with the Artist Award Trophy.

Ellie's chamber group performed at the end of the recital. They had a blast - you can tell by looking at them, right? Ellie LOVES chamber music. She's usually a solo act so playing in a chamber group is just a ton of fun for her...a pianist's version of socializing.
In addition to a whole lotta people we didn't know, friends and family came to cheer Ellie on (and enjoy some great music). Here's Ellie with Sarah. I know I've linked to Sarah's MySpace page, before, but she is such an awesome singer/songwriter. If you visit her page, you can click on a You Tube video of her singing For You, my favorite Sarah Song. You can also click on it just to listen and of course, you can download it and help a starving artist.
A few years ago the girls were in a band. Sarah was the singer, Ellie and Juliana played guitar, and Hannah was on bass. Kevin was their guitar guru/band manager/mascot/cheerleader. Since then, Sarah's gone on to college and her solo career, Hannah's gotten married and gone to college (she designs websites), and Juliana is in college studying graphic art. Kevin is still rocking with Lewis and Clark and teaching and recording, AND trying to teach Joel how to shred like Slash (not quite there yet)...and Ellie, of course, has decided to eat/breathe/sleep classical piano. It seems like only yesterday I was listening to the girls play Arctic Monkeys riffs...Franz Ferdinand...and YES! Dani California for the old lady here. I miss the girls they were - but I adore the young women they have become. Except for Kevin - who has not become a young woman. That would be shocking. Of course, all the girls (and Kevin) came to the recital. Quite a few of Ellie's young students came, as well. Moving right along - here is Ellie with Wayne - a fellow pianist and Ellie-fan. He's wearing some herbal bandages on his forearms to help with muscle soreness guessed it...playing the piano. These kids are such jocks, I'm telling 'ya. Wayne is now in college but he was a student of Ken's, as well. Ellie has made such great friends with the other pianists at MACSA - even though they often compete against each other....many weekends find them hanging out...seeing a movie...playing frisbee...bowling....and of course, supporting each other in achieving their dreams.

More pianists!! And at least one violinist, I think.

Aha! And here is the other half of Lewis and Clark. Dana was Ellie's first piano teacher. She's a special lady and a wonderful friend. Also? Kevin's wife.

And this here is just the riff raff from the back row.

Awww...another cute Joel/Alyssa picture.

Jasper made it through the entire recital! I kid you not. He rolled around on the ground, crawled under his seat at one point, and stage-whispered, "Is it over yet?" repeatedly. But the little dude survived. So did I. I used to single-handedly hold the piano together telepathically while Ellie played. I concentrated so hard I would give myself a headache. Now? I just relax like all the other folks and enjoy the show. She's such a pro, now. It's just great to watch and listen. I did embarrass myself at one point, though. Ellie would walk off stage to rest in between songs, and it is customary to begin applauding when she comes back out. I guess I saw the stage door open before anyone else after one of these little breaks (front row joe, after all) because I broke out into semi-hysterical applause totally by myself. People felt sorry for me, I could feel it. Oh well. I'm the mama - so cut me some slack. And freakin' pay attention when my kid walks back out on the stage!

There were a ton of babies and little people in the audience - made Ellie's teacher a bit nervous - but hey, that's how we roll. They all did pretty well.

So yeah, still filling out college applications and doing the extra work required of us homeschoolers. Juilliard is the worst with their requirements. We have to get letters from "real teachers who are not relatives" or something like that. Um, excuse me? Homeschoolers usually learn from relatives. Ugh. Whateva.

Joel is taking an online course through Texas Tech University. It is a high school geography course, not a dual credit course. He has a great textbook from National Geographic but the actual work is ridiculous. Worksheets, worksheets, worksheets. Some of them? Don't match the book. Most of them? Useless. But it's good for him to see what is expected in "school work." But let me tell you, double negatives used to try and trick kids with the multiple choice business...well...not so easy for a kid with language processing disorders to pick up on. In fact, that is pretty much the definition of "the kinds of things he doesn't understand." As a dyslexic, he doesn't even seem to read every single word, and he uses a lot of context clues to determine meanings. So....tricky wording? Not really up his alley. But the boy is rocking awesome with the map pencils! Pretty maps and graphs - yes siree.

He had to write a brief essay introducing himself to the teacher. He did a great job, I think. Let me share it with you.

My name is Joel. I am sixteen years old and I'm homeschooled. I live on a cattle ranch, and I'm in a family of seven. I am the second oldest. I enjoy a lot of activities such as Odyssey of the Mind. My team competed at the World Finals last year at the University of Michigan. We built a human-powered vehicle. I am also working on my black belt in tae-kwon-do and I play electric guitar.

This is my first attempt at structured learning. We're sort of like those weird unschooling families you see on tv. Thank goodness for spell check because I'm dyslexic with language processing disorders. So far I'm enjoying the textbook. I find geography very interesting. I've never done worksheets before so I'm learning how to follow instructions and look up facts, which is pretty groovy.

In the future, I'd probably find myself in the arts. I enjoy comedy and getting laughs from people. I might find myself writing scripts for SNL or something like that, or for my own creations. I already enjoy making little shows with a program called Scratch, on the web. But those are for fun. I want to make a living from what I do best, which so far, is comedy. I am still trying to figure out if going to college will help me get to my goals. If it does I'll defiantly go. Oh, I just see I wrote defiantly instead of definitely. But that works, too.

Snort. And let me tell you, spell check only helps so much. You gotta have vowels, kid! Try typing in "vchcle" and see if spell check comes up with "vehicle." It becomes speechless, that's what it does. Also? "Mgichn" doesn't turn up "Michigan" on spell check. And Joel just laughs and laughs about it. "Oh mom, I can't even tell what I was trying to spell here."

So music, applications, Real Schoolwork, playing, dancing, kicking, spinning, laughing....and letting off some steam. That's what's been cooking over here


  1. I'm glad you've gotten a chance to relax a bit! I laughed about telekenetically holding the piano together-- sounds a lot like me. :) And also, as someone who (sadly) writes MC test questions for reading comprehension tests, double-negatives and trick questions are considered bad form these days, so tell that book company or teacher they are behind the times and to get better MC items!

  2. I would have "stood" and applauded when that door opened and then looked around at the others as if they should do the same.
    Ellie did so great. I think, when I retire, I'll become a Classic Pianist. Or is is Classical? Either way, it's sounds cool! I wonder if my Mom would come to my recitals?
    By the way, I think I'm going now be tested for learning disabilities. I totally read Joel's letter in the way he wanted it to sound and didn't even pick up on the defiantly mistake until he pointed it out.
    I think I can say this about your kids, they're not introverts. Now I wonder where they got that from???
    Oh, hey! Philadelphia? You know that's just a hop skip and jump away from me. You coming? I'd love to see you, you know. All of us middle-aged overweight bon-bon eating women are huge followers of yours.
    Your Friend, m.(short for Martha)

  3. Joel's essay was spectacular! Thanks for sharing - gives me hope.

  4. Every single thing here made me feel happy. Happy happy happy, all the way to my toes. Can't even think of what one thing to comment on, because it all was so AWESOME. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. Just so you know..I was trying to explain to Austen how to write a 5 paragraph essay today. He kept staring at me blankly. Finally..I came to your blog to show him Joel's. (Okay..not 5 paragraphs..but more than one anyway!). Cody..smirks.."Wait..we are reading Joel's essay to learn how to write?!" Thank you to Joel..for setting an example for these shaggyboys.

  6. I do not have any sort of language processing disorder, and I can't type for crap either.