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Jun 20, 2017

In the U.S, most school-aged children have a very long summer vacation indeed: two and a half months! Can you imagine? It's actually a huge relief for most of them, and an opportunity to try some activities that they haven't before. I'm a big believer in music and the benefits of playing a musical instrument. I have made a poor attempt(1) myself over the years of playing the violin; however, it is still on my list of things to accomplish. Work takes up so much time that I can't always devote time to practicing. When it comes to my children though, they have more time, and more choices. My second son, Cass, plays the piano beautifully, and simply does it because he loves it. So that leaves the other three. Domini, my daughter, bought a Ukelele yesterday and has already consulted some tutorials on Youtube. I will certainly sign her up for some classes, and hopefully get her into a routine where she can experience some success. And one of the good things about the Ukelele is that even if you play it badly, it still sounds ok. The violin, on the other hand, can sound like a big cat fight, screeching(2) and screaming away(3). My oldest son, Hudson, told me that now feels like the right time for him to take up the violin. I'm thrilled about that! So that is three out of the four kids. So, what about Robert? I have to tread carefully(4) with him; I don't want to force him, so I will have to use some good psychology to make him think that he wants to take up an instrument. Like the rest of my children he is independent and headstrong, a bit like his mother. what should be my approach? Make him think that it's his idea. The trouble is that he is wise to my tricks; he's fourteen. In fact, he often uses that approach on me to get what he wants. I'll have to think about it and plan my action carefully. In the meantime I will enjoy the sound of three instruments playing in my house, hopefully not all at the same time!


1. 'To make a poor attempt (at/to)' Poor in this sense doesn't mean a lack of money. It is more like a 'weak' attempt or a 'lack of effort'.

a. You made a poor attempt at looking for the milk; it's right in front of your nose!

b. My first attempt at painting a rose was poor. My second was much better!

2. 'To screech' means to make a very piercing, sharp sounding scream. We often talk about 'the screech of an owl'. It's the kind of sound that can hurt your ears.

a. The rock band's singer screeched all night!

b. I was woken up by a terrifying sound. I didn't know what it was, until I opened the window and realized that it was an owl screeching.

3. 'Away' is a word that will polish your English if you learn to use it correctly. After a verb, it denotes a length of time, and a sense of concentration in an activity.

a. The pianist played away even when every one had left.

b. We danced away into the night until we realized that the sun was coming up.

4. 'To tread' is an old-fashioned verb for 'to step/ walk'. It sounds like 'dread' so it can have a connotation of mystery compared to 'to step'. We often couple it with the word 'carefully'. Together they mean that the next move has to be well thought out, carefully planned.

 a. You will have to tread carefully with your neighbor; she is very unfriendly.

b. The UK will have to tread carefully in its communications with EU members.

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