My wife and I teach our children at home. My wife does 99 percent of it. I teach the kids music as best I can. We’ve had good success with it. Our older son is now college age. He’s not attending college. He doesn’t want to become anything that requires credentials that are the result of attending college — you know: doctor, lawyer, engineer. He wants to be a musician of some stripe. You can go to college to be a music teacher in a public school, or play in a symphony orchestra, but other than that, a diploma is superfluous. You just have to know how to play. He’s like a monk right now. He doesn’t do anything except work on music and shovel the driveway. No college would be as intensive.
The little one is just ten. He doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. I’m still trying to decide what to do with mine, so I don’t judge. He’s recently become enamored of the idea of opening up his own restaurant. He says he wants to call it “The Meat Shelter.” Catchy, that; but there’s something about it that makes me wonder if he might abandon that line of thinking before he starts shaving. Little boys are interested in all sorts of things.
He already plays the drums. He plays the drums like an adult. He plays the drums for money. He and his brother call themselves Unorganized Hancock. They are very likely the most famous persons currently residing in the town we live in, but no one here knows that. You can watch the boys playing Crooked Teeth at the New Musical Express website if you like. They’ve sold copies, on two continents, of music they composed and recorded themselves, which makes them INTERNATIONAL RECORDING ARTISTS. Snicker.
The Spare Heir, as we call the little one, has taught himself to use a music software program called FL Studio. It’s a digital audio workstation. It incorporates a sequencer, which means you can program notes and sounds into it, and it will repeat them. You can make loops with it, i.e.: a few bars of a drum beat or something you need repeated over and over, or you can assemble an entire song or symphony or jingle or whatever from scratch with any number of instruments or sounds on it. I have no idea how to turn it on. He learned it all himself by watching YouTube video tutorials.
He started composing songs. They said they were EDM. I didn’t know what that was either. It’s like Kraftwerk for dancing, is as best as I can describe it. He has composed dozens of EDM songs, usually about six or seven minutes long each, all completely coherent and interesting. He had to painstakingly program all the notes into the interface one at a time. I thought it was incumbent upon me to give him piano (keyboard, really) lessons to make his composition easier. Typing is faster than block printing, after all.
There’s kind of a problem. I don’t know how to play the piano. I was a musician when I was younger, but I never played the piano. Upon reflection I feel as though I should admit that I never learned to play anything properly, or sing worth a damn, either. But that didn’t stop me from working. So it shouldn’t stop me from teaching, either.
I understand the piano as a machine. I know the names of the keys and so forth, but The Spare knows that already, because of FL Studio. I don’t have a lot of time, so I can only teach him at lunch. I searched my mind for a song that might get him interested in playing it, and that encompassed a few important techniques and had an easily understood chord structure. I showed him a video of a man playing A Whiter Shade of Pale on the organ. That was Tuesday. Three days later, here’s a video of him. I know he understood everything I showed him about the song, because he threw in a sus4 chord resolution at the end to jazz it up. He’s a pisser.
My wife and I have no credentials that allow us to teach. We simply have an approach. It’s very simple: Every day, we just make sure our children know something they didn’t know the day before. We require measurable results — from them, and from us. That’s it. That’s all. That approach is not attempted — that approach is not allowed — at the public school.
[Related: Governor Lauds Maine Students’ Prodigious Ability To Turn On Mysterious Devices And Stare At Them. From The Rumford Meteor, natch]
[Update: Kathleen M’s continued generosity is a wonder. Many thanks for hitting the PayPal button]
[Additional Update: Welcome Instapundit readers. Glenn’s doing yeoman work highlighting the growing alternatives to public schooling in his latest book. I guess we’re one of those alternatives. Some of his commenters seem to think I write like a dullard. I find that gratifying to hear, of course, as I only aspire to achieve a studied imbecility. Dullard’s better, I think. I guess. Well, how would I know?
I’m told I’m a fair-to-middlin’ music teacher, though: