It was a big week for me. You remember how before everyone thought I was totally crazy for taking my kids by myself on a little jaunt through Arizona? That was just a warm-up for the week I just experienced in Utah.
I took Raef and Zach to the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute camp this week in Draper, Utah. Wow, what a week, huh? Let me see...me, check. Raef, check. Zach, yep him too. Oh yeah, then there was Eli, check. Harry and Julia, check, check. Yep, uh huh. Just me and five little ones at a rather serious Suzuki string camp for 6 days. I didn't have a clue what I was getting myself into when I went.
It was at a private high school and it was me against all of them. I mean, me and all of them together. One big happy family.
My thought was that I would stay the whole first day and get them oriented to their classes. I had arranged babysitting with Melanie, superwoman! After that first day, I would drop them off in the morning and spend time with Melanie and go to a few classes in the middle of the day.
There was only one teensy weensy little problem.
"Mom, are we done yet?" spoken by Zach after the first class was finished. He only had 3 more on the first day, and 5 more days ahead of him.
"Is this my last class?" spoken by Zach after his second to last class, to his fiddling teacher, the guy who was teaching 6 different classes in a large high school where every single room was being used for classes.
"Are you Zach's mom?" spoken by Zach's violin performance teacher Andrea Sanderson, on Tuesday when it became painfully obvious that Zach was very wiggly and disruptive to the entire group.
"I couldn't find my class." spoken by Zach when I needed him to go to his next class on his own, as I had to deal with my little ones. I had only physically walked him to his class twice so that he would know where it was and had also written down his schedule with all the class numbers, so he could ask someone if he got lost. He lost the schedule on Tuesday morning.
"Your violin bow is not a sword." spoken by me.
"IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!! YOU ARE CHEATING!!!!! YOU DON'T PLAY FAIR!!!!" spoken, I mean, tearfully screamed by Zach at lunch break when he didn't like the way the game was going because the other kids were bigger and he was constantly losing.
We went to Melanie's house a few times to hang out when camp was over in the evenings. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed reconnecting.
This gal is the best. She totally saved me. When it became woefully apparent that I was going to have to do a lot of hand holding for the entire week, she stepped right up and watched my babies the majority of the time. They got lots of naps and attention and fun. Whew! She totally saved me.
At night we stayed with my Uncle Barry and Aunt Sue in Orem. It was a lot of fun being able to reconnect with them and just hang out. I was grateful for the opportunity. There was one tiny, little thing that I didn't like. Bedtime. I mean, Eli and bedtime. Those two things just didn't really go together very well. You remember how I chronicled his bedtimes problems at our house? I am not going to rehash that, but needless to say it was quite painful. It was Act III. Every night it took hours to get all three of them to sleep. The problems really revolved around Eli. Errrrrrr!
So I seemed to go to bed every night around 12pm, but we were always up bright and early around 5:45 to 6am. And somehow I survived.
But look at these faces...
Oh, come on! How could I be mad at that???
I made sure to take some pictures with their teachers. This is their orchestra teacher, Denise Willey. She was fantastic; dynamic, funny, instructive, helpful. Everything you would want in a teacher, she fit the bill. The kids loved her class. Raef was the only viola.
There he is...all by himself, holding down the fort and doing a mighty fine job.
Oh yeah, that is Zach...
Now unlike Zach, who struggled all week...Raef thrived. He is just a cool kid. There were not very many viola players and he was by far the youngest kid in his group. He is very advanced for his age. He is going into the 3rd grade and the next youngest kid was headed to 7th. But he fit right in and made lots of friends. In this picture he is getting instruction from his master's teacher, David Becker. He helped Raef work on his dynamics.
David Becker is from Wisconsin. Because the viola group was so small, Raef was able to get a lot of needed attention with his instrument. It was fantastic.
These are some of the kids he studied with this week. They are just the cream of the crop, wonderful kids with great personalities and so kind. I loved the environment he was in. The vibe in the viola class was cool. There was a camaraderie that really worked for him.
His performance and technique teacher was Dee Martz. She is also from Wisconsin. I loved her class and so did Raef. They would make up stories about the songs they were playing and this really worked for Raef. It helped him with dynamics quite a bit.
One neat thing about Dee is the viola she is holding. It was made in 1773! It is a Guadagnini and there were only 12 made, with 4 known to exist. The university she works for owns it and lets her play it. Isn't that cool? It has its own name and everything...Cosio. Whoa!
Raef made a friend at camp named Tyler. He came from South Dakota to study. They really hit it off and Raef and him would go play rugby in the field during lunch break. Raef thought that was the coolest thing ever.
Zach reminded me several times this week that he will never be an aborigine. But he did enjoy this exercise where they actually got to wander around while they played. He felt right at home as that is how he usually practices at home.
Zach with Andrea Sanderson. She is a very compassionate lady. She was very patient with him and pleasantly surprised when he didn't do anything outrageous during the final performance.
This was Zach's master's teacher, Deborah Moench. She is a well-known pedagogue in Salt Lake City and I believe her daughter is a world-renowned violinist. She is soft-spoken, but tough.
On Saturday we enjoyed the fruits of our labors and the kids did a concert in the main auditorium. The babies were terrible when it was time for the show. Luckily I brought my brother Jamie along and he watched them so that I could see it. Julia listened to a little bit of the pre stuff on the floor. Oooohhhh! So cute.
Of course I made a couple of videos if you want to hear what it sounded like. The actual concert footage is terrible, but it sounds good. There is a faculty orchestra that accompanied them and that was really cool.