Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mad for Chopin

For the past 9 months or so, N. has been pretty deeply obsessed with Chopin's piano music.  He started playing some etudes and nocturnes last spring, and then moved on to waltzes and mazurkas.  His piano teachers have had to force some variety into his repertoire, because for a while at least he really only wanted to play Chopin.  I see their point, but it is a total treat to have Chopin's music floating through my house daily!

When we were in London last semester, Tim and N. did not have their regular daily "school" time so their long-standing improvised auto/biography curriculum was on hiatus.  But browsing Blackwells bookstore on a day trip to Oxford we found Adam Zamoyski's biography Chopin: Prince of the Romantics (2011).  Tim did not read this aloud, but read it himself and told N. and me a lot about Chopin's life over meals throughout the semester, so it practically felt like it was read aloud to us.  The book is especially strong on Chopin's life in Poland before he moved to Paris.  N. was fascinated to learn about his life, and he loved learning details such as Chopin's love of Bach's music and thinking about how Bach's music, which at first listen seems so different, shaped Chopin's.  He was also very amused to hear that Chopin had his hair curled every day by a servant.  It's hard work getting that tousled Romantic look!

Our primary approach to homeschool could be described as "If you liked that, you might like this."  We're always looking for connections to the things N. loves.  So, when we were in Paris we made a pilgrimage to Chopin's grave in Père Lachaise cemetery, which was covered in flowers and memorials from music lovers.  When we were in Berlin we went to an all-Chopin concert at the French Cathedral.  For Christmas we got him a CD of Chopin's first and second piano concertos.  I love being part of these long learning trajectories as they develop over time.

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