End of an era

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Today my eldest daughter has started her last week of school. I feel a bit like I blinked and suddenly she is all grown up.

I still remember the little blonde haired girl who cried and clung to me as I dropped her off to preschool, the same little girl who a few years later bravely started school in her little uniform and wide brimmed hat that seemed so large that she resembled a little mushroom. Fast forward a few years and she moved schools. I think back to the bribe of a new outfit and dinner in a fancy restaurant as a reward for her bravery to start afresh at a new school where she didn’t know anyone.

I think of the countless sporting carnivals, music recitals and awards ceremonies we have attended, proud of the effort she was putting in to her education.

I recall the ups and downs of her being a tween who lived through the dramas of friendship changes and issues that at the time that seemed insurmountable, which today she would be hard pressed to remember in any detail.

I think back to the day she was inconsolable over missing out on a place on the exchange program at school, although she had gone above and beyond to do all she could do to qualify. The flip side was the amazing trip she went on to China and the friendship she formed with a Spanish girl that she met over there that led to them doing a small private exchange. In hindsight, I think she actually was better off the way things worked out.

And now she is going through the routine of school for just one last week. It is going to be a huge week with muck up day, leaver’s ceremony and then the formal dance to finish off the week. Within a few months all her exams will be done and then she can focus on the path she chooses to start her life.

Although I’ve looked forward to this time, I also can’t believe it is already here. My little shy girl has grown into a confident lady and I’m so proud of the woman she is becoming.

I’m not sure where the years have gone, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

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BACK TO SCHOOL

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They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m hoping to prove that wrong. Today I started saxophone lessons at my kid’s school. After searching for a tutor, I asked the kids’ school music teacher if she could recommend someone appropriate to teach me. She suggested I get lessons from one of the private tutors at school and assured me that I would not be the only parent going through the school for tuition. Thank god I’m not expected to don the school uniform to attend!

So today I fronted up with my saxophone in hand and wandered the halls looking like a lost student in search of my new teacher. I eventually found my tutor and the appropriate room and unpacked my gleaming new saxophone.

I thought as I learned flute as a teenager, it would be easy to just start playing the saxophone, but it was humbling to sit as a student and learn to play from scratch.

It’s a weird experience to walk the halls of my kids’ school as a student, have a lesson and be given actual homework, but I figure you are never too old to learn and that with passion and dedication anything is possible.

Whether it is publishing a book (by the way, my latest book ‘Music Score’ is available at Amazon – sorry for the blatant cross promotion) or learning to play the saxophone, I want to make sure that I cross as many items off my bucket list as possible. I hope that instead of just preaching to my kids that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, that I can lead by example. I may not ever be a saxophonist in a jazz band, but I hope that in the not too distant future I will be able to belt out a few Kenny G tunes without the emanating sound being mistaken for a form of torture!

(Image courtesy of nuchylee, freedigitalphotos.net)

I’ve finally done it!

I’m so excited to announce that after years of blogging, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have published my first book on Amazon Kindle.

Music Score is a novel aimed at teens/young adults.

Raised by musician parents, Barb always had a love of creating, playing and listening to music.

Barb is outraged when she discovers her dad is responsible for creating music with subliminal tracks used by the government as propaganda to brainwash an unsuspecting public. She covertly changes the hidden tracks only to find that within a few weeks there is social unrest, with anti-government protests and rioting. Realizing she is responsible, Barb and her dad record a song with a subliminal track to calm the demonstrators. Performing this song live in the combat zone, Barb not only calms the rioters but becomes an overnight sensation in the media.

Before she knows it, Barb is a celebrity with a recording contract and starts a new romance with Jake, who stars in her music video.

It all seems too good to be true and maybe it is!

Just as Barb is preparing to fly overseas on a promotional tour, she discovers her dad has laid down subliminal tracks in her music to make people like her. Wanting to achieve success on her own merits, Barb gets her dad to edit the songs to remove the hidden track. Will her success and new found love wither without the subliminal messages or do her fans and Jake really like her for who she is?

If you are interested in reading my book or have a teen who would enjoy it, simply click this link to go to the Amazon Store to download:

Music Score

While you’re at it, you might like to check out my new website http://www.joannenicholsonauthor.com

MUSIC FESTIVAL

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As is often the case these days, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to balancing the protective side of me wanting to keep my kids safe versus allowing my kids a bit of freedom to grow up and spread their wings a little.

Yesterday I allowed my fifteen-year-old daughter to attend a music festival for teenagers 12 to 17 years of age. The stereotypical image of music festivals being an open slather for drugs and alcohol crossed my mind, but as it was aimed at teenagers who had to show photo ID confirming their age, I was confident there would be no alcohol for sale and also hopeful that screening at the gates would minimize any exposure to drugs.

The ‘Good Life’ festival has previously been run well, with designated buses to take the teenagers from central station to the venue and in reverse for the return trip. The only issue yesterday was that the mother of all storms hit mid afternoon which led to the organisers cancelling the festival mid way through.

No buses were available to ferry the kids back to the train station (5kms away) so the kids were ejected from the venue in a ferocious storm to try to find their way home.

I fully understand the festival organisers decision to cancel the concert due to the storm, however I’m really disappointed that a day that was designed to be a safe, fun day out for teenagers, left them in the precarious situation of being stranded in the middle of town with no transport options in the middle of the storm that was so severe it led to the cancellation of the concert.

Thankfully my daughter’s friend’s father rang a friend who lived locally to collect them from the venue and drop them at the train station, but thousands of other kids were left to their own devices.

When I collected my daughter from the train station, she said that the day was far from living the ‘good life’ and that it had been the worst day of her life. I tried to console my daughter by saying that sometimes the worst events become the most memorable stories.

If I’d known there was the possibility that my daughter would be stranded in town, I would never have agreed to let her attend, but then again, I guess a part of growing up is finding yourself in unexpected situations and then working out a solution. I’m just grateful that she arrived home safely, albeit cold, wet and tired from her ‘Good Life’ experience. If nothing else, at least she gained some good life experience!

(Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

COMMITMENT

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Over the years, all my children have made commitments to be on a sporting team or part of a music ensemble and half way through the term have wanted to stop participating in that group.

I must admit, as much as it would make my life easier to reduce the amount of running around I do, I expect them to honour a commitment so I will never let them drop out of a team activity. I’m a true believer that when you agree to be part of a group, no matter how good or bad you are at the task, you have given your word to be a team player. If every child were to drop out, there wouldn’t be sufficient participants to enable the groups to continue.

Furthermore, when children agree to be part of a group, this commitment also includes attending all practice sessions. This is a constant source of aggravation in our house, as a few of our kids enjoy the music ensembles they play in and sporting teams they belong to, they just don’t like the early morning starts to attend practice. But as saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.

We recently attended a performance evening at our children’s school and it was interesting to watch the kids in the choir. You could tell the ones who attend rehearsals as they knew the words and actions to the songs, whereas the kids that obviously don’t attend regularly were left standing on the stage looking a bit like stunned goldfish either not doing any actions, or if trying to copy the other kids, were a few seconds behind.

I worry about the future of the children who are allowed to either not attend practice sessions or are allowed to quit their commitments as it doesn’t give these kids a sense of responsibility, tenacity or reliability. Sometimes ensuring your kids do the right thing isn’t agreeing to the path of least resistance, rather it’s a case of persistence.

(Picture courtesy of jscreationzs, freedigitalphotos.net)

CHILDREN’S VIOLIN LESSONS

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We are very lucky to send our kids to a private school that has compulsory violin lessons for children in year 3. I say the term ‘lucky’ pretty loosely, because if you have ever been exposed to a novice playing the violin for the very first time, you will know it resembles the sound of a cat being skinned alive.

Our youngest son brought home his violin yesterday and with great enthusiasm and flourish proceeded to ‘play’ it for us. His sisters then each had a turn in playing the violin. Here is the sad thing – each of the girls has already had their year of violin tuition yet not one of them could remember how to play a single tune! I guess I should confess that I too had a turn of playing and managed to screech out my own rendition of ‘Mary had a little lamb’.

I really do love music and most of our kids play a musical instrument, so whilst it is torture to listen to the violin being practiced for a year, it does pave the way forward for the kids to have an appreciation for music. Thankfully next year our son will have to choose a band instrument to play, so we just have to cross our fingers he won’t choose a tuba or French horn! One of our daughters plays the trumpet which is an extremely loud instrument to have to listen to whilst she practices. For Christmas she got an electronic mute, where she can play with headphones on and only she has to listen to it. She was really excited about receiving this gift (but only half as excited as we were).

The school music program is amazing and somehow over the period of a year, they manage to get all the kids playing basic violin. Some of the kids will even have a level of skill to continue with their tuition and will join a string ensemble. By the time they get into high school, the senior string ensemble sounds like a professional symphony. I guess, as with every thing in life, we all have to start somewhere. I just might have to wear my noise cancelling headphones around the house for the next few weeks, whilst my son fiddles with his violin!

 

 

(Picture courtesy of bigjom, freedigitalphotos.net)

 

 

 

 

CAUGHT OUT

Yesterday I had to take one of my daughters to her basketball game and left my 16 year old daughter in charge of my youngest two kids. My younger kids don’t always like to take direction from their older sister, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got home.

Well I must admit, of all the scenarios I thought were possible, this is something that I hadn’t expected.  When I got home the house was quiet, which is something as a parent you are always a bit suspicious about! I then located my eldest daughter watching over her siblings playing in the backyard.

It wasn’t until later in the day that it became apparent what they had been up to in the afternoon. I heard chords being played on the piano – chords to a song that my 11 year old plays all the time, yet this time the playing wasn’t as polished. I glanced at the piano to see why she was tripping over the chords and discovered it was my 16 year old playing. While I had been out, my youngest daughter had taught her older sister how to play this song. I was amazed that they had spent time together (without parental instruction) playing music. What makes this even more special is that later last night, my 11 year old picked up a guitar and started to play chords to a song her eldest sister had taught her in return. 

Every now and again it is heartening to know that our kids support and encourage each other, even when we don’t make them. It is so nice to have caught them out actually being nice to each other, when so often we see the petty squabbles over who got a larger glass of juice or whose turn it is to ride in the front seat of the car.

Of all the scenarios I thought might have been waiting on my return from basketball yesterday; I hadn’t ever expected that they would have been having fun imparting their musical knowledge to each other.  Sometimes something so trivial can make for the loveliest surprise!

 

When have you caught out your kids doing something nice for each other?

 

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