Monthly Archives: January 2008

First lesson

When Andrew brought the children home from their various activities on Saturday afternoon, I was greeted by a very excited B7. He entered the house carrying his new half-size classical guitar. The arrival of this guitar has been long anticipated. It was not the one Andrew had ordered months ago but we did not want to wait any longer. B7 proudly and carefully took it out of its case and showed me. He strummed and picked for a while and then put it away, only to get it out again a bit later to do the same thing. Sunday and Monday the same thing happened as he waited for his first lesson.

Andrew gave him his first lesson last night so now he has a little more knowledge about his instrument and some exercises to do each day during his “guitar practice”. He did mention to me that he thought playing the guitar would be easy but he is finding it’s not! Today I supervised a practice and he happily demonstrated what he has learnt so far. Soon the house will once again ring with the sound of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Gingerbread winners

Yesterday we attended the award ceremony at the museum where the children entered the Gingerbread house competition. L13 and P13 were very pleased to be awarded first place for “Children’s Group – Original Design” and A11, H10 and B7 proudly accepted second place in the same category. The local newspaper had a photographer there so we will wait and see if they end up in the paper. The houses are to stay intact for a few more days so Group of Four can see them. After that some people want to try eating the two month old gingerbread…

Much Ado

Group of Four is engaging in some Shakespeare again, this time it is Much Ado about Nothing. At our house we began by reading through the Charles and Mary Lamb version of the story to give everyone an idea of what to expect when we watched. B7 and A11 sketched the characters as I read to help keep the relationships in order. When Group of Four met last week we watched the movie version directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring both Branagh as Benedick and Emma Thompson as Beatrice. It is a very enjoyable version which amused and inspired the young actors.

Earlier this week, the group participated in a workshop run by the Company of Fools for a group of thirty or so homeschooled students. The workshop ran all day and covered many aspects of acting, zeroing in on Much Ado about Nothing for several of the activities. The workshop was run by two of the “fools”, one an actor, the other a designer. I was very impressed by the way they worked with the children and the activities which kept everyone engaged all day.

They started with warm ups for voice, body and imagination. Following this they were taught a technique for learning lines by giving every word an action. Every word, not just the big words or the “easy to think of an action” words. Using this method they all learnt a section from Titus Andronicus. In pairs they then used the same method to learn and present a line from Much Ado.

Getting into character was the next focus and time was spent on facial expressions, body movements, walking styles and a little dialogue. The only costumes used all day were hats and the group spent time looking at a large collection of hats, working out why a particular one suited a particular character from Much Ado. Then of course they wore the hats and became the characters. After lunch the activities were a little longer as the children used scenes from Much Ado to create tableaux, posters and skits.

At Group of Four next week all the children will be acting in one or more scenes which the moms have cut and pasted together. We have chosen those scenes which really amused or impressed the children or classic scenes which just must be done. Our house will be filled with Shakespearean language once again as lines are practised and inserted into all sorts of conversations.

2008 so far

Before 2008 even started we had one sick girl, but as she had done nothing but rest for two days straight and was feeling a lot better, we all attended a New Year’s Day dinner at a friend’s house. By the end of the night I was not feeling at all well and headed straight for bed, where I stayed for days. One child, then another, became sick, slept beside me during the day and then after a day or so was well enough to be up and about. I was not. After a week had gone by I was not recovering and L13 had relapsed so we visited the doctor, who prescribed more rest and some medication for me.

Two weeks into 2008 I am now up and about but still taking things slowly. L13 is still recovering. She was up on Saturday for a rehearsal and played on Sunday at two Seniors homes before playing her solo at our studio recital. Both girls played their solos beautifully, making us particularly proud as they had both battled sickness over the previous two weeks. I think the effort required to play on Sunday took a lot out of L13, so it will be a little longer before she is at full strength again.

All the while my cousin has been coming and going, showing herself around the city when Andrew (the well one) wasn’t available to accompany her. She did get a bit sick herself, but found a cheap flight to Florida for a few days which warmed her up and took her out of our plague ridden house for a while. She is off to Toronto and Niagara today, so hopefully by the time she returns we will all be able to do something together.

As you can imagine my school preparations did not get done but we are easing into school work again, beginning with the basics. For years now Friday afternoons in January and February have been spent cross-country skiing. Hopefully we can do that again this year. While I was lying in bed I did read an excellent book, which I hope to review soon. I also searched through The Book Tree for books to add to the children’s reading lists for this year. So life is getting back to normal and I have been told by several people, especially my husband that pneumonia can take a while to recover from, so I will try not to be impatient.