God blessed our family abundantly with the opportunity to further our musical education this past summer. It’s always been a dream of mine to introduce the girls to the world of stringed instruments. However, the instruments themselves are exorbitantly expensive, not to mention the cost of private lessons. It didn’t seem like this dream would ever become a reality due to our limited budget, but I continued to offer the request to the Lord as I had previously done for our piano and piano lessons. God’s answer to this prayer blew my socks off!
A homeschooling friend of our family told me about a local community youth orchestra that was starting a session for the summer. This music program is committed to making musical education accessible to all children, regardless of which schools they attend. This meant that as a homeschooling family, we would be eligible to join. Moreover, the cost for participation was only a fraction of what I anticipated, making it possible for me to enter all three older girls. Two other homeschooling families that we know joined as well. As many instruments as we could obtain were donated from local businesses to the music program, and rentals at discounted prices were offered for the rest. Thus was born the youth orchestra group Shir Yaffeh, which is Hebrew for “beautiful music.” Jaelah selected to play the cello, while Selah chose the viola and Chavah picked the violin. Their teacher taught during 2-hour weekly sessions and then we all went home to practice, practice, practice.
It’s amazing how quickly children can pick up something and learn it. I’ve known this to be the case with piano, and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to start stringed instruments while they were still young. I didn’t realize initially just how much of a benefit it would be to the girls to already know how to read music, but since we’ve doing piano for over 2 years, they flowed quite smoothly into their various stringed instruments. All they really needed to focus on at first was how to hold their bows and getting the fingering right. While I would not describe this process as easy at all, I was impressed at the amount of skill they gained in a very short eight weeks. One of the things I am most excited about is the ear training. There are no frets on stringed instruments as there are on a guitar, so measuring the notes becomes a matter of listening very carefully for the correct pitch. Even having a finger a half-centimeter off the right location on the string can result in a horribly off-pitch note. While this can be a frustrating process, I believe the patience the girls develop as they work hard on this skill is going to be an invaluable resource in the future. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud than when watching the girls struggle through a difficult piece over and over until getting it right. I want them to know that if they stick with the process, they will be able to create worship wherever they go, even if it’s just with their own family. The whole point of all of this is to train worshippers of Messiah both in skill and in heart. May everything we do be for Yeshua’s glory!
The families of Shir Yaffeh met together with the orchestra director at the end of the summer and decided to continue. The girls’ teacher is excited and has implemented a process of mentorship whereby the older students help the younger ones learn the basic skills. This helps relieve some of the burden of the teacher for the whole class so that everyone can keep progressing, and it builds in a great review process for the older students. The twins quite possibly can join next year if we continue to see the benefit of this training. I believe we will.