Tag Archives: How to

How to get the kids to practise

One thing that makes parenting hard is getting your kids to do things that they should do but don’t want to do.

And practising their musical instruments falls right into that category for our 7yo. She just wasn’t motivated to practise her violin. She complained that practice is “boring”. The thing is that she’s quite good at the violin – her posture and bowing seem to come to her so naturally. And she pick things up relatively quickly – it’s just when it comes to new stuff or tricky parts that need some repetition that she loses the motivation.

We had tried practice charts in the past, but they never seemed to work. We tried to mix it up, lots of shorter practice sessions, fun and games, I play the violin along with her, I not play the violin, rewards, etc but none seemed to really work.

But with Christmas coming up, she started asking if she could get this or that for Christmas. The latest request was, “Dad, can I get a DS for Christmas?”.

We pounced on this and decided that yes she could… but only if she did her singing and violin practice as scheduled on a practice chart.

And so we made one up and it’s amazing! She hasn’t missed a practice since. And she even picks it up to play out of the blue!

I guess I better investigate where to buy a DS now. I wonder if my plan will backfire after Christmas… hmmmm…

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Zoo + kids + 50mm

Staring at a chameleon
Staring at a chameleon
Sleepy Snake
Sleepy Snake
Sitting frog
Sitting frog

Had a free day with the kids today, so since it was sunny, we decided to go to the zoo.  It’s a place we don’t go to often, but we used when the kids were younger.

I can definitely recommend the Zoo Friends pass – you just have to go 4 times a year to make it pay itself off.   But the best thing about it is that once you have one, you can go to the zoo for free – so instead of going to the park, just go to the zoo!  Also, you don’t feel compelled to do the whole zoo at once.  You can take it in bite sized pieces, and come back to continue another day.

Today I decided to take the 50mm 1.8 lens only.  The last time I went, I took the 70-200mm but it’s pretty heavy, and without the wifey around to help, I needed to travel light.   It was a good challenge though, trying to take and compose good shots with the 50mm as lots of the animals are too far away.   But it was good for the close up exhibits that you can find in the Alinta Reptile Encounter and Wetlands (in the Perth Zoo).

Tips for getting shots like this:

  • Large Aperture – Open up the aperture to get the minimum depth of field.  This basically means that the subject will be in focus, but everything else in front and behind will be out of focus, making the subject stand out.  In the photos above, I used apertures down to f/1.8.
  • Not too slow Shutter – Make sure the shutter is not too slow, make it at least 1/focal length.  So, for the 50mm lens, at least 1/50 seconds.   The main point here is to ensure that you’re not getting any camera shake causing blurry photos.   Unfortunately, at the zoo in the indoor enclosures, there’s not that much lighting, so to get a faster shutter speed with a large aperture, you will need to increase the ISO (see next step).   I did end up with some blurry shots, but once I pumped up the ISO and checked the shutter speed, all was fine.
  • Higher ISO – Pump up the ISO.  This is easy if you have a digital SLR.  For the photos above, I pumped up to ISO800.