Practice, Perform, Repeat – Why it’s the Formula for Success
Maude Cloutier: Grade 9-10 – 1st Place Winner
2018 What Homeschooling Has Helped Me Achieve Essay Contest
It’s six o’clock in the morning.
My alarm goes off – dear, I was too tired yesterday and forgot to remove that annoying beeping sound that sounds like a fire alarm.
Mumbling, I get up and turn it off.
Then, I set my Scale Chart on my stand, turn on my metronome at 60 beats per minute, and pick up my violin. Not forgetting to put my practice mute to avoid waking up my snoring family members, I tune my instrument and begin practicing.
It’s been my routine for almost six months now, as I feel like there are not enough hours in one day to prepare for violin competitions and recitals occurring every four to six weeks.
This routine wouldn’t exist if I attended my local high school, however, because that infamous yellow bus sneaks in at 6:30 AM and doesn’t come back until 4:30 PM.
This is just one reason why homeschooling has so many benefits for a young musician like me. Learning at home has enabled me to practice and stay motivated from a young age, travel to many different places and venues, and prepare for competitions and performances with ample time and flexibility.
To understand a little better why I am so attached to the violin, I need to go back in time to when I was four years old, back in my native Montreal, Canada. One Sunday at Mass, I heard a violinist play during Communion.
Shy person that I was, my parents were quite shocked when, amidst the silence, I stood up and yelled, “I want to play the violin!” I met the violinist after Mass, who said she would love to teach me. After much pleading on my part, Dad finally agreed, and I received my mini violin and weekly lessons. I was ecstatic!
Although this excitement didn’t last very long, my teacher would not let me stop under any circumstances. Besides, I wasn’t allowed to go to the Planetarium with my friends if I hadn’t practiced!
Thanks to homeschooling, my parents and teachers were able to set goals and rewards for practicing every day, which kept me motivated.
Skip ahead to ten days ago, back to my fourteen-year-old self. We moved to Indiana when I was nine, but we’ve been calling Cleveland, Ohio, home for a few days. Dad and I are on a flight to Montreal for my audition for the Canadian Music Competition.
As I look down from my window seat on the country I call home, I let my thoughts wander back to the past few months.
From winning the Indiana State Fair Violin Competition to performing in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s concert hall in downtown Indianapolis, from performing a recital with my sisters in Boston to a violin lesson in Texas – not only have music and homeschooling allowed me to travel to so many places and cultures in North America, they have even allowed me to live in some of these places.
Traveling is, by far, my favorite activity besides music, and I wouldn’t even be on that Air Canada flight if it weren’t for those four hours of practice I put in every day.
Furthermore, I certainly wouldn’t be able to travel to any of these places if I went to my local school; with the many trips my family made for music-related reasons this past year, I would have missed at least thirty school days.
Yes, that would have been very hard to explain to the principal. My thoughts come back to earth when the flight attendant gives a rushed message over the radio, but I’m still thinking about how thankful I am for the flexibility homeschooling gives me.
Three days later, on June 1st, Dad and I take a taxi to McGill University’s Music Pavilion. I sign in at the Canadian Music Competition’s welcome booth and hand over my sheet music to the volunteer.
Relatives and friends whom I haven’t seen in over a year are already in Clara Lichtenstein Hall. I’m a little nervous about this exciting performance, but after all, I finished school two weeks early to prepare for this competition – and, since school ends towards the end of June here in Canada, I know my fellow competitors are cramming for finals at this time of year, leaving little time for practice.
Here is just another example of how the flexibility of homeschooling is very helpful! Finally, after the afternoon’s performances, the competition coordinator comes forward to announce the results – and, to my amazement, I learn I’ve made it to the finals with an overall score of 94!
Through homeschooling, I’ve been able to perfect my skills on the violin in a way I would have never thought possible. Until I can, God willing, make it to Carnegie Hall, I’ll just keep working hard and make the most of every day.
With the National Finals coming up soon, and the opportunity to receive a scholarship imminent, I’ll turn on my metronome, tune my instrument, practice that run at measure 104 – and thank God every day for the opportunities and flexibility homeschooling has given me.
About Maude Cloutier
Maude Cloutier is 15 years old, and originally from Montreal, Canada, has been homeschooling with Seton since 4th grade. Now living in Cleveland, Ohio, Maude recently won a Bronze Medal, with a score of 95, at the nationwide Canadian Music Competition. In her free time, Maude loves spending time with her two younger sisters, running and biking outside, alpine ski racing, and traveling. When she is older, she hopes to make a music career as a soloist, chamber musician, and conductor.