Sunday, October 11, 2015

Visiting the Office

This is what our children get to do if they are sick or otherwise not in school/preschool.  They have each been once now to our shared office space.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

K going to "night school"

"First Day of School" -- Take 3

This time it is music school!

We have been wanting to give our children music lessons.  And yes, there are some private lessons, but by far the most common way to get lessons is to go to a music school.  "Music school" is a Russian institution in which students who are selected for their musical capacity are given private lessons plus group lessons in music reading (solfedgio) and choir.  So it is a lot of hours each week, but a child ends up knowing a lot about music.  The music school nearest us, "Children's Music School Number 1", is celebrating 95 years this year.

S talked to Music School # 1 about places in mid-September.  But, like all other schools, they form groups in May and start on 1 September.  For piano (a "starter" instrument), the places are all full, even for paying customers.

A bit later, a neighbor in our apartment building whom we often see in our gated courtyard, said, "aren't you going to go to music school?"  When we explained that they told us the places were all full, she said, I sent my two sons there for violin, let me talk to the violin teacher.  So she put in a call to the teacher, and told us the teacher agreed to give us an audition.  She said we could bring all three kids (she maybe didn't realize how youngest was).    We consider it very providential that A plays the violin and always dreamed that his kids would play someday.  (What are the odds that the neighbor's sons learned violin and not some other instrument?)

What do you do for an "audition" if you don't play the instrument?  Well, she asked them to sing something (E and K independently picked Twinkle Twinkle), then asked them to sing the notes she played on the piano, and then to tell whether she played two notes or three (without watching her play the piano), and a basic rhythm test  (listen to her clap and then clap it back to her).  Well, they didn't do perfectly, or even as good as we know they can do at home, but she did agree that they have the capacity to learn music.  

But, because the afternoon and evening schedule are filled up already, we are admitted on the condition that we take the violin lessons in the first half of the day.  Well, this works well for E, who starts school at 1:40 (see 1 Sept post).  But not so good for K, who is enrolled in preschool (read "daycare") all day long.  But to get them in, we agreed.  (We agreed with her that three years old is too young for her discipline.)

Turns out it was only piano that was full.  There is still space for the "budget" (ie subsidized) places for violin, so E is enrolled in the "budget" place as a violin pupil, but this also comes with choir and solfedgio.  K at 5 years old is one year too young for a "budget" place so she gets only the violin lessons, but she would be eligible to start the full program next year at 6.

As of 1 October, E is starting two lessons per week on the instrument plus choir and solfedgio (learning to read music, music theory etc).  1 hour choir, 1 hour solfedgio, two 35 minute lessons on the instrument, all for the incredibly low (state subsidized) price of 260 roubles per MONTH.  (That's about $4.50 per month).  (Based on other prices, we would expect music to cost 260 Rubles per hour, but no, that is per month.)

K, on the other hand, is paying "private" prices this year, at 2400 R per month for two 35 min lessons per week (8 lessons per month), for something that translates to about $40 per month.

So, 1 Oct was E's first solfedgio lesson, this and choir are in small groups, by the year you started music school.  She and I were both worried about yet another "new school" experience.  But when I took her up to the class, two girls from her regular school class came right over and were happy to see her.  (Yay!)  They even told the teacher who she was.  They are also in her choir class, but they both are enrolled in the piano department (which means they got admitted last spring).

Now, any of our readers who have taken children to music lessons will understand the huge committment it is for the parent -- get them to the lesson (with instrument, and sheet music, and etc), wait there at the lesson, get them home or to the next thing.  Now, multiply that times four for E.  K just has the two lessons, and the teacher did them at the same day as E's lesson.  But E's four classes are on four different days.  (Come last, get the worst schedule).

Any advice for parents of children starting the violin?

"First Day of School" Take 2

K, our five-year-old, is beginning her "prep class," (Russian: podgotovkiye zanyatiye), the evening classes which are run by the school, for children to come after their preschool day and do "school", little 25 minute classes where they start learning letters, seasons, and basic counting.  She has been so excited to start "night school".  Although, she says, its too bad there is no Night Bus (like in Harry Potter), as we walk back and forth to the school (same School 9 where E goes) in the dark.