~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ composer of his own destiny

when i was looking back through photos of quinn from 2010 for my previous lifelong learning post, which my hilarious husband said i should have titled two months to read, i found this little drummer boy…

which seemed like a great way to start off this month of lifelong learning, during which quinn took his first music lessons!

this is just before his first lesson, after receiving his new drum pad and bell kit. i can’t help but notice he still likes to march in a circle around the drum, as he was doing with the tinker toys can, and numerous other unpictured objects throughout his life.


checking out his new bells!


first lesson! it also happened to be halloween that day, so he has on his charizard costume. he is having his lessons with the same teacher he has for music during school, and this also happens to be someone rich and i know from the theatre community. he’s a great guy, and seems to appreciate quinn. he had a straightforward plan to suggest for getting him started (including the idea of the snare/mallet percussion starter book and kit). quinn gets to learn snare drum alongside bells, so that he is learning how to read the music for both, and familiarize with the extremes of what a percussionist might delve into, or specialize in later on. when we talked beforehand, quinn was very much interested in drums and rhythm, but was open to the idea of reading notes and playing mallet percussion as well. i told him stories about the girl in my high school band who played mallets, who also played everything all the rest of the percussionists could play, but who got the really special jobs like playing the chimes for the christmas concert, and the steel drums when we played the little mermaid medley. i always admired her versatility, and i think she got to play some of the best parts because of it! he seemed like he liked the idea of being versatile like that.


not too long after his first lesson, quinn had composed his first song, entitled bird song. he was nervous about naming it that, because he felt there may be copyright issues, given that he knew of another song by that name (my little dead head). i assured him that if he wasn’t planning on selling it to anyone yet, he could name it whatever he wanted for now. he relaxed.

he was completely overjoyed that his very own mama had a plain sheet of staff paper already in her possession, and ran off to make “i think about 10 copies should be good for starters.” it is love. he spent some serious time between practicing, then writing his song, playing it, looking at a star wars book of songs i happened to have on hand, then just playing around with no music in front of him. making musical sounds.

one awesome aspect of his musicality is how he ties in emotion, he really has a sense of how certain pieces will make a person feel, and asked me how bird song made me feel when i heard him play it. i told him i felt a little melancholy when i heard it (it was in a minor key) and he was delighted because he had been going for expressing “epic sadness.”

this photo was taken belatedly, but quinn made a linocut stamp of an apple to decorate a birthday card for grammy the previous month, so i wanted to make sure and include this image somewhere. we must have art in our lives!

just a boy with harry potter hair.

parent-teacher conferences were held during this month and it was the first real face-to-face i had with quinn’s teacher, because i really coasted through the first part of the school year and had yet to volunteer in the classroom. i was delighted with our conference. she seemed equally delighted with quinn, and her main commentary had to do with hoping she will be able to keep him challenged. she is thrilled about his love of the fantasy genre, because she feels it is the genre with the most potential for finding books on his reading level and also with appropriate content for his age and interests. because, his star test results indicate that:

“quinn would be best served by instructional materials prepared at a ninth grade level.”

i love his teacher even more for understanding how that test score is to be taken with huge grains of salt, that its usefulness is limited, that while it is true that his level is high, a person reading at that level should be tested using… a test prepared for someone at that level, not the grade 5 level, and she had already determined she would test him only the required beginning and end of year times, and refrain from having him test at intervals throughout the school year with the rest of the class. hurray for less testing, and especially hurray for a teacher with mindfulness of the limitations of testing.

she generally seems very experienced, has great ideas for helping quinn with things like time management and awareness (she felt that just letting him know about how long an assignment might be expected to take, helped him keep it close to the time, rather than dragging on and succumbing to overthinking; that she picked up this observation in a few short weeks was telling as well.) she seemed to be pleased about having him as a student, and optimistic about a good school year. i feel we got really lucky, and it makes so much sense that quinn wanted to keep all options open and let the universe put him in the right classroom for him for this year.

in early november, quinn spent nearly an entire weekend typing a novel inside of a book inside of a minecraft world. it is an epic adventure, and i need to transcribe it from the minecraft book so it can be read by the world. we discussed that it may make more sense for him to type future novels into a document instead, so he does not monopolize my computer for entire weekends.

he had a theatre workshop on veteran’s day and he had a blast. parents were invited in the afternoon to watch the skits they put together, which was very impromptu because the plot was dictated by whatever the kids wrote, separately, on index cards labeled who, what, where, when, why and quinn’s group had criteria something like: who: pregnant lady with mood swings, where: in a hospital, when: during world war ii, and i cannot recall the what and why… quinn’s character was steve, a wounded soldier. he was off to one side being wounded, and any time he would say a line, the rest of the cast would chorus, “no, steve!” or “shut up, steve!” and he got many laughs. the pregnant woman did pretty well, in a sitcom sense, of being moody and in labor, and then another girl her same size was the baby, which provided great physical comedy to have the “mom” oohing and ahhing her new baby on her lap. then there was drama over who the actual father was, and that was a bit confused in the dialogue but funny, and finally, quinn-steve chimed in, “can i be the father?” “NO, STEVE!” and that was the end of the play. ridiculously funny for throwing it together in 40 minutes. he obviously had fun, because then they were allowed to leave if parents were present (which i was) but they could also play one more game since there were still 15 minutes left, and of course, he wanted to play the game.

quinn’s class took a field trip to see the movie wonder, and i finally got to do something helpful for his class, and went along as a chaperone. holy moly, i had no idea i should have brought a box of tissues with me. the kids had read the book in preparation for seeing this wonderful movie with its profound and multi-faceted and in-depth discussion of differences and universals and bullying and kindness.

later in the month, quinn attended a seminar with sifu diaz, our sifu’s seventh degree black belt sifu. last time they met, they both had ponytails, and this time they both had haircuts. sifu diaz is very good with the kids, and it’s great to get a different perspective on the same techniques. i always love doing that when learning yoga and feel i learn more when i can see it from different teachers’ persepectives, so the same goes for karate.


we got to have ruby over thanksgiving break, when i had quinn home for the week. our days were game-filled and puppy-enhanced.


tinker crate! quinn received an awesome present from aunt lau, a tinker crate subscription. the first box in our subscription was a make-your-own spin-art machine! obviously, quinn had fun, both building and wiring up his machine, and then making some art!


we had a mellow thanksgiving at our home, with rich’s mom and daughter and son-in-law, and ruby and quinn. quinn helped with pie baking as usual, and was entirely responsible for the apple slicing for the apple pie. we also had pumpkin and pecan pies, and a whole bunch of other food, though i was aiming for low-key and low-waste this time around, and i think i accomplished my goal.

it’s hard to keep up with quinn’s literary journey these days. he is rapidly devouring the entire body of work written by rick riordan. he is getting caught up on the trials of apollo, and simultaneously demolishing the first two books in the magnus chase series. as a follow-up to that, he has of course decided to study norse mythology in greater detail, just as he did with percy jackson and greek mythology, and introduced me to the ice cow goddess audhumla, my new spirit animal. some quick-read minecraft fan fiction gets inserted into the book pile as well. i bet we are in the running for most frequent flier miles on the inter-library loan system for our local public library, and 4 out of 5 librarians at our branch are on a first name basis with quinn. this kid loves to read!


1 comment to ~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ composer of his own destiny

  • camp boss

    so glad providence prevailed and Quinn got just the right teacher for him!! and I chuckled because Toledo library has probably called 4-5 times in the last 2 weeks letting us know Luke’s new I.L.L books have come in. I think he had a couple books come from out of state! This was a nice picture heavy not too verbose post!! 😉

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