I loved to read. If there was anything that would motivate me to get my schoolwork done faster, it was a new book to read. I remember when one of my sisters finally let me read her Anne of Green Gables books. I read the first one and she told me there was no way I could have read it that fast – “you didn’t read every word!”
Though I never realized it at the time, reading introduced me to many different types of people and cultures, and made up some for boring history classes. I read everything from books to newspapers to magazines. My husband, who is good at history and geography, is sometimes amazed at the different historical figures that I can name, and the only thing I can attribute it to is reading.
My biggest extracurricular activity was music, by far. My mom was a church pianist, and one of my older sisters was the keyboardist (she started when she was 14!). My sister, who had also been homeschooled for middle and high school, taught piano at her own private piano studio and I took lessons from her for as long as I can remember. (My mom tried teaching me at first but that didn’t work out so well.)
Every year, the students in my sister’s piano studio would study and prepare pieces not only for our two annual recitals, but also for Music Progressions, a sort of testing program at a local university. We would be quizzed on music history, music theory, sight reading, and ear training; and then perform one or two pieces for the adjudicator, who was typically a professor at the university, at least for the more advanced levels.
This program had varying levels, but was in no way connected to the student’s age; a concept that I think we’d do well to think about applying to other educational opportunities.
In junior high and high school, I also took part in an annual piano performance event. Each student would prepare one (or two, if they were short) piano piece and perform it in a concert hall before a judge, who would give a grade of one, two, or three and critique the piece on paper.
Once, I went to the state piano teachers’ convention and received an “honorable mention” in a similar type of competition.
Practicing the piano was part of my lesson plan for school, and I practiced for 30 minutes a day when I was younger, and an hour or so during junior high and high school, when I was more active in music and considering it as a college major. I often accompanied our church’s youth and children’s choirs, and played for congregational music.
I liked music, but it wasn’t my passion. I often wanted to quit, and my mother always threatened with “if you quit, you will not be allowed to touch the piano again”. Well, I didn’t love music, but I did like playing, so that threat always kept me from quitting.