High School Math

High school math is one of the more difficult subjects that many homeschool parents, especially those of us who are mathematically challenged ourselves, to teach.

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants, wrote an article entitled, “HIGH SCHOOL MATH: HOW DOES IT ADD UP FOR YOU?” It begins:

Dear Friends,

If you are graduating a senior this month, congratulations! It’s a milestone in your teen’s life, but also an achievement in your life, too. We appreciate the time and effort you’ve invested in your teen, and we pray that the Lord blesses you both in this next season. (Watch for an upcoming article in HSLDA’s Court Report magazine that will provide ideas and reflections on life after homeschooling.)

For those of you continuing to teach high school in September, it’s likely that you are in the midst of choosing the subjects you will teach. In previous newsletters, we’ve discussed high school English, science, foreign language and history. In this edition of the newsletter, we’ll cover everyone’s favorite subject – math! Are those groans we hear?

For some homeschool parents, high school math is a bother, irritation, or blight. Strong words for such an innocuous subject. Let us help by suggesting another perspective of math in light of the benefits, resources and supplements, and teaching options available.

You can read the entire article at:


New Testament Stories My Daddy Told Me, 10/2014

New Testament Stories My Daddy Told Me


By Wayne S. Walker

     As a result of a vision Paul received from God in Troas in which a man of Macedonia asked him to come over into Macedonia and preach there, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and now Luke sailed from Troas, stopped by the island of Samothrace, and came to the port city of Neapolis, from which they went on to Philippi, the largest and most important city in the region of Macedonia.  Not finding a synagogue, they went out of the city to the riverside where prayer was customarily made on the Sabbath and spoke to some women.  One of them named Lydia, who was a seller of purple from Thyatira, was baptized and invited the company to stay in her house.

Shortly after this, while Paul and his group were going to prayer, they met a certain slave girl who was possessed with a spirit of divination that allowed her to tell fortunes.  Her masters made a lot of money from her ability.  The girl followed Paul and cried out, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”  This went on for several days, and Paul finally became annoyed, probably because he felt that it cheapened the gospel to be associated with a fortune teller and her greedy masters.  So, he used his miraculous power to cast the evil spirit out of the girl.

Of course, the girl’s masters did not like this because it removed their source of profit.  Therefore, they had Paul and Silas arrested and dragged into the marketplace before the city authorities, falsely accusing the two of teaching things which it was unlawful for Roman citizens to receive or observe.  Without waiting to discern the truthfulness of this charge, the multitude rose up against Paul and the magistrates had him and Silas beaten with rods.  After the two had received many stripes, they were thrown into the prison where the jailor put them into the inner dungeon and fastened their feet in the stocks.


  1. What was the largest and most important city in Macedonia?
  2. Where did Paul and his group find some women praying?
  3. Which of these women was baptized and invited Paul’s company to stay with her?
  4. What ability did an evil spirit give a certain slave girl?
  5. What did this girl say about Paul and those with him?
  6. What did Paul do to stop the girl from annoying them?
  7. Where did the girl’s masters take Paul and Silas?
  8. In what way were Paul and Silas physically punished?
  9. After this, where were Paul and Silas put?

Monthly Meditation, 10/2014

Monthly Meditation


by Wayne S. Walker

     “Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways” (Psalm 128:1).  The meaning of the word “blessed” is usually given as “happy” (cf. Matthew 5:3-11)  That is all right as long as we understand that it is not the “happiness” of a mere emotional reaction to pleasant circumstances.  Sometimes the word “fortunate” is used to define it, and that is all right too if we can divorce the term from its root of “fortune” meaning chance or luck and see that the idea is not just those who have come out ahead in “life’s lottery.”  I prefer to identify one who is “blessed” as being favored by God because he or she lives in harmony with God’s will.

The blessing of Psalm 128 is pronounced upon “every one who fears the LORD.”  Too many people think of fearing the Lord as being afraid or terrified of Him.  Of course, for those who are not right with God, there are some things about Him to be afraid or terrified of.  To those who “sin willfully” the writer of Hebrews said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).  However, the Biblical fear of God is more than that.  It is a deep reverence, respect, and awe for God because of who and what He is.  The Hebrew writer also said, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

The outward manifestation of fearing God is walking in His ways.  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).  The fear of punishment for disobeying God is still present, but we move beyond that to a strong and abiding love for Him because of what He has done for us.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:17).  The one who fears God out of love and walks in His ways will be favored by Him.  To help our children learn to fear the Lord and walk in His ways that they might be blessed by Him should be the ultimate, underlying goal in homeschooling our children.


Five Suggestions from a Veteran Homeschooler

FIVE SUGGESTIONS FROM A VETERAN HOMESCHOOLER: Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Wayne S. Walker

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This was one of the hardest lessons for me personally to learn.  If little Johnny or Susie doesn’t know the capital of Nepal or the value of pi to the sixteenth place, it might be a bit embarrassing when Grandma asks, but it really won’t make any difference in the long run.
  2. Don’t sweat the big stuff either. Yes, it’s important that little Johnny or Susie needs to learn how to read, how to spell correctly, and how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  But they don’t have to complete the entire process in one day, or even in one year.
  3. Remember that all learning does not take place while sitting at a desk with a book or a worksheet. Allow plenty of time to visit museums, historical sites, and other such interesting       places that are much more memorable than a lot of what one reads or fills out on a test.
  4. Have fun. For example, when studying fractions, bake a cake.  The kids can see that one half of two cups of flour is one cup.  And they’ll be able to visualize one half cup of sugar, one fourth cup of oil, and so forth.  And best of all, you get to eat the results of your day’s lesson!
  5. And don’t forget this. Bad days will occasionally come.  So when they do, take some time off and go out for ice cream, because ice cream will help to solve any problem.


Josef Strauss and his Village Swallows of Austria Waltz


Josef Strauss (August 20, 1827 – July 22, 1870) was an Austrian composer.  He was born into one of the most famous of Viennese musical families on August 20, 1827, in Vienna, Austria, the second son of Johann Strauss I and Maria Anna Streim, and brother of Johann Strauss II and Eduard Strauss. His father wanted him to choose a career in the Austrian Hapsburg military, but he studied music with Franz Dolleschal and learned to play the violin with Franz Anton Ries.  Also, he received training as a mechanical engineer and architectural drafting in the Vienna Polytechnic, and worked for the city of Vienna as an engineer and designer who designed a horse-drawn revolving brush street-sweeping vehicle and published two textbooks on mathematical subjects.  Strauss had talents as an artist, painter, poet, dramatist, singer, composer, and inventor.

Josef joined the family orchestra, along with his brothers, Johann Strauss II and Eduard Strauss in the 1850s. His first published work was called “Die Ersten und Letzten” (The First and the Last). After this, surprised everyone by becoming highly popular, he wrote another, which he called First Waltz after the Last. When Johann became seriously ill in 1853, the shy and sensitive Josef was coerced into temporarily substituting for his brother when the latter’s doctors prescribed for him a lengthy rest cure.  The waltz-loving Viennese were appreciative of his early compositions so he decided to continue in the family tradition of composing dance music. He was known as ‘Pepi’ by his family and close friends, and Johann once said of him: “Pepi is the more gifted of us two; I am merely the more popular…”

Josef Strauss married Caroline Pruckmayer at the church of St. Johann Nepomuk in Vienna on June 8, 1857, and had one daughter, Karolina Anna, who was born on March 27, 1858.   In 1863 Johann was appointed Imperial and Royal Hofballmusikdirektor, which required him to largely absent himself from the family orchestra. This left Josef to take some of the orchestra’s touring assignments.  Sickly most of his life, he suffered fainting spells and intense headaches.  During a tour to Poland in 1870, he fell unconscious from the conductor’s podium while conducting his ‘Musical Potpourri’, and hit his head. There were rumors that he had been beaten by drunken Russian soldiers after he allegedly refused to perform music for them one night.  His wife brought him back home to Vienna, to the Hirschenhaus, where he died on July, 22, 1870. A final diagnosis only reported a decomposition of blood.  His cause of death was not determined, as his widow forbade an autopsy.

Josef Strauss wrote 283 opus numbers. He wrote many marches; waltzes, including Sphären-Klänge (Music of the Spheres), Delirien (Deliriums), Transaktionen (Transactions), Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust (My Character is Love and Joy), The Mysterious Powers of Magnetism (Dynamiden) with the use of minor keys and Dorfschwalben aus Österreich (Village Swallows from Austria); polkas, most famously the Pizzicato Polka with his brother Johann; quadrilles, and other dance music such as the polka-mazurka with examples like Die Emancipierte and Die Libelle; as well as 500 arrangements of music by other composers..  He also wrote a serious composition, a tone poem with orchestra called Ode to the Night. It received great critical acclaim, but has been lost.  Some think that his dance pieces might have surpassed those of his older brother, had he survived, as Johann was by then concentrating on writing music for operettas and other stage works.

My collection includes the following works by Josef Strauss:

Pizzikato Polka (with Johann).

Swallows from Austria, op. 164.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

William Grant Still and his Afro-American Symphony


William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was a gifted African-American composer, songwriter, arranger, conductor, and oboist who wrote more than 150 compositions and is often referred to as “the Dean of African-American Classical Composers.”  He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. Born on May 11, 1895, in Woodville, Wilkinson County, MS, he was the son of two teachers and musicians, Carrie Lena Fambro Still (1872–1927) and William Grant Still (1871–1895), who were of Negro, Indian, Spanish, Irish, and Scotch bloods.  William was only three months old when his father, a partner in a grocery store and a local bandleader, died and his mother took him to with her mother in Little Rock, AR, where she taught English in the high school for 33 years and his musical education began with violin lessons from a private teacher starting at age fifteen, and with later inspiration from the Red Seal operatic recordings bought for him by his stepfather Charles B. Shepperson who also took him to operettas  and generally nurtured his stepson’s musical interests.  The two attended a number of performances by musicians on tour.  Still grew up in Little Rock, and taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello and viola, showing a great interest in music.  His maternal grandmother sang African-American spirituals to him.

In 1911, at age sixteen, Still graduated from M. W. Gibbs High School in Little Rock.  His mother wanted him to go to medical school, so Still pursued a Bachelor of Science degree program at Wilberforce University, a historically black college in Ohio, but he spent most of his time conducting the university band, learning to play the various instruments involved, and making his initial attempts to compose and to orchestrate. Still became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.   His subsequent studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music were financed at first by a legacy from his father, and later by a scholarship established just for him by the faculty to study music with Friedrick Lehmann.   At the end of his college years, in 1918, Still joined the United States Navy to serve in World War I. Afterwards, he entered the world of commercial (popular) music, playing in orchestras and orchestrating, working in particular with the violin, cello and oboe.  Between 1919 and 1921, Still worked as an arranger for W.C. Handy’s band.   His other employers included Don Voorhees, Sophie Tucker, and Artie Shaw.

While playing oboe in the pit orchestra for Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake’s musical, Shuffle Along, in Boston, MA, Still applied to study at the New England Conservatory with George Whitefield Chadwick, and was again rewarded with a scholarship due to Mr. Chadwick’s own vision and generosity.  He also studied, again on an individual scholarship, with the noted ultra-modern composer Edgard Varèse. In the Twenties, Still made his first appearances as a serious composer in New York, and began a valued friendship with Dr. Howard Hanson of Rochester.  His notable early orchestral compositions include 1924’s Darker America and 1926’s From the Black Belt.  Later in the twenties, he served as the arranger of Yamekraw, a “Negro Rhapsody” composed by the noted Harlem Stride pianist, James P. Johnson.  His initial hiring by Paul Whiteman took place in early November 1929.  In the 1930s Still worked as an arranger of popular music, writing for Willard Robison’s Deep River Hour over CBS and WOR, and Paul Whiteman’s Old Gold Show, both popular NBC Radio broadcasts. Many of Still’s musical creations melded jazz with more traditional orchestral melodies. They also incorporated his passionate interest in African music. He created 1930’s Sahdji, a ballet with an African backdrop, and his acclaimed 1937 ballet, Lenox Avenue, takes place in Harlem.

After moving to Los Angeles, CA, in the early 1930s, citations from numerous organizations, local and elsewhere in the United States, came to the composer.  He arranged music for films. These included Pennies from Heaven (the 1936 film starring Bing Crosby and Madge Evans) and Lost Horizon (the 1937 film starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and Sam Jaffe).  In 1934, Still received his first Guggenheim Fellowship and started work on the first of his eight operas, Blue Steel.   In 1936, Still conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in his compositions at the Hollywood Bowl as the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra. In 1939, Still married journalist and concert pianist, Verna Arvey, who became his principal collaborator. They remained together until Still died.   In 1949 his opera Troubled Island, originally completed in 1939, about Jean Jacques Dessalines and Haiti, was performed by the New York City Opera at the City Center of Music and Drama. It was the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major company.  In 1939-40 he received an important commission from the New York World’s Fair.  He received a Doctor of Music from Howard University in 1941.  In 1944, he won the Jubilee prize of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the best Overture to celebrate its Jubilee season, with a work called Festive Overture.  Still also wrote for radio and shared his talents further by creating compositions for children in the 1950s.

Additionally, Still was the recording manager of the Black Swan Phonograph Company.  In 1953, a Freedoms Foundation Award came to Still for his To You, America! which honored West Points Sesquicentennial Celebration.  He was the first Afro-American to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the Deep South in 1955, when he directed the New Orleans Philharmonic at Southern University. In 1961, he received the prize offered by the U. S. Committee for the U. N., the N.F.M.C. and the Aeolian Music Foundation for his orchestral work, The Peaceful Land, cited as the best musical composition honoring the United Nations.  He died at the age of 83, in Los Angeles, CA, of heart failure on December 3, 1978.  He was the first African American to have an opera performed on national United States television when A Bayou Legend, completed in 1941, premiered on PBS in June of 1981. Still wrote over 150 compositions (well over 200 if his lost early works could be counted), including operas, ballets, symphonies, chamber works, and arrangements of folk themes, especially Negro spirituals, plus instrumental, choral and solo vocal works.  Many of his works reflect his concerns about the position of African Americans in society.  His works were performed internationally by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Orchestra.

The following works by William Grant Still are contained in my collection:

Africa, Symphonic Poem (1930).

In Memoriam (1943).

Symphony No. 1, Afro-American (1930).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Johann Stamitz and his Sinfonia in Bb M


Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitz; born Jan Václav Antonín Stamic (June 18, 1717–March 27, 1757) was a Czech composer and violinist who is considered the founding father of the Mannheim school, a movement that had a significant impact on eighteenth century European music and had an immense influence on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Stamitz’s music is stylistically transitional between Baroque and Classical periods, and his two surviving sons, Carl and Anton Stamitz, were also important composers. Stamitz’s family came from Marburg (today Maribor, Slovenia), and he was born on June 18, 1717, in Deutschbrod or Nìmecký Brod, Bohemia (now Havlíèkùv Brod, Czech Republic), the son of a local organist and schoolmaster.  Receiving his early musical education from his father, the young Johann, already proficient on the violin, entered in 1728 the Jesuit-run Jilhava Gymnasium of Bohemia, known for its excellence in music education, where he studied music, and then spent the academic year 1734–1735 at the University of Prague.  However, after only one year, he left the university to pursue a career as a violin virtuoso.  His activities during the six-year period between his departure from the university in 1735 and his appointment in Mannheim around 1741 are not precisely known, though one can speculate that whatever career inroads he made were mostly insignificant..

Stamitz was hired as a string player in the court orchestra of Mannheim, Germany, in 1741 or 1742 and appointed by the Mannheim court as director of court music in 1745 with the duties of conductor and lead violinist.  Most likely, his engagement there resulted from contacts made during the Bohemian campaign and coronation of Carl Albert (Karl VII) of Bavaria, a close ally of the Elector Palatine. In January 1742, Stamitz performed before the Mannheim court as part of the festivities surrounding the marriage of Karl Theodor, who succeeded his uncle Karl Philipp as Elector Palatine less than a year later; Carl Albert was among the wedding guests.  Stamitz undoubtedly wrote many of his early symphonies during the early- and mid-1740s. He probably began writing for the Court chapel by the latter time, as well.  Stamitz married Maria Antonia Luneborn on July 1, 1744. They had five children together, Carl Philipp, Maria Franziska, Anton Thadäus Nepomuk, and two children who died in infancy.   Stamitz took his Mannheim Orchestra on an acclaimed tour of Germany in the late 1740s.

It is estimated that Stamitz produced 75 symphonies from 1741 to 1757.  His most important compositions are his 58 surviving symphonies and his ten orchestral trios. The orchestral trios are actually symphonies for strings, but may be played one player to a part as chamber music. His concertos include numerous ones for the violin, two for viola, two for harpsichord, twelve for flute, one for oboe, and one for clarinet, among the earliest concertos for the instrument.  He also composed a large amount of chamber music for various instrumental combinations, as well as eight vocal works including his widely circulated concert Mass in D.   Because at least five other eighteenth-century musicians bore the surname Stamitz, including four from Johann’s immediate family, any attempt to catalog his works is risky at best.  Though Stamitz left a large number of symphonies, concertos, and chamber works, scholars have often been unable to verify attributions since none of his original manuscripts have survived.

Johann Stamitz’s expanded orchestration included important wind parts. His symphonies of the 1750s are scored in eight parts: four strings, two horns and two oboes, although flutes or clarinets may substitute for the oboes. Horns provided not only a harmonic backdrop for strings but solo lines as well, and he was also one of the first composers to write independent lines for oboes.  The chief innovation in Stamitz’s symphonic works is their four-movement structure: fast – slow – minuet and trio – dashing Presto or Prestissimo finale.  He also contributed to the development of sonata form, most often used in symphonic first movements but occasionally in finales and even slow movements.   In addition, he adapted and extended traits originally developed in Italian opera in his instrumental works, as extended crescendos, simple tutti chordal textures and slow harmonic rhythm. Like Italian operas, to give a strong sense of rhythmic drive and distinctive thematic material.

Thus, Stamitz was the most important developer of the classical symphony before Joseph Haydn. The increasingly sophisticated music which he wrote for his orchestra won him the new position as Director of Court Instrumental Music in 1750. Probably around the late summer of 1754, he paid a yearlong visit to Paris, perhaps at the invitation of music patron Alexandre Le Riche de La Poupelinière with whom he stayed, appearing in public there for the first time at a Concert Spirituel on September 8, 1754. His Parisian success induced him to publish his Orchestral Trios, Op. 1 (actually symphonies for string orchestra), and possibly other works of his by various publishers there.  He probably returned to Mannheim around the autumn of 1755, and little is known of his life after he returned to Mannheim except that his health must have begun to decline rapidly and he died there young less than two years later on March 27, 1757, at the age of 39 three months before his fortieth birthday.   His followers at Mannheim included Ignaz Holzbauer (1711 – 1783), Franz Xaver Richter (1709 – 1789), and later on Christian Cannibich (1731 – 1798).

My collection includes the following work by Johann Stamitz:

Sinfonia in BbM.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Government oversight of sermons?

This doesn’t have anything to do with homeschooling, but it is scary to think that there are those in government anywhere in this nation who want to exercise some kind of control over what is preached in churches.

Bob Unruh of World Net Daily published an article “Houston demands oversight of sermons: Campaign against pastors called ‘Big Brother overlords’ on a ‘witch hunt’: on Oct. 13, 2014.  It begins:

Officials with the city of Houston, Texas, who are defending a controversial ordinance that would allow men to use women’s restrooms now have demanded to see the sermons preached by several area pastors.

The recent move came in a subpoena from the city to pastors for copies of their sermons and other communications in the city’s legal defense of a “non-discrimination” measure that allows “gender-confused” people to use public restrooms designated for the opposite sex.

A lawsuit challenging Houston’s move alleges the city violated its own charter in its adoption of the Equal Rights Ordinance, which in May designated homosexuals and transgender persons as a protected class.

After indicating that Alliance Defending Freedom is opposing this move, the article continues:

ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb said the city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is needless and unprecedented.

“The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment,” she said.

While the public submitted more than three times the legally required number of petition signatures to require city action, and the city secretary certified the number as sufficient, the mayor and city attorney “defied” the law and rejected the certification, ADF said.

“The message is clear: oppose the decisions of city government, and drown in unwarranted, burdensome discovery requests,” said a brief in support of the motion to quash. “These requests, if allowed, will have a chilling effect on future citizens who might consider circulating referendum petitions because they are dissatisfied with ordinances passed by the city council.

You can read the rest of the article at:


George Hinke print “Back to School”

George Hinke print “Back to School”


George Hinke was born at Berlin, Germany, in 1883 and received his art training under the tutelage of Master Painters in Old Germany. Many murals in the famous churches of Germany attest to his artistry.  He became a renowned Ideals Magazine illustrator of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  This print entitled “Back to School” or “My Childhood Sweetheart” first appeared in the 1949 School Issue of Ideals.  Hinke died in 1958.  The print was also used in 1961 for the Valentine’s Day Issue of Ideals and was repeated in the 1979 Homespun Issue of Ideals.