A variety of sounds greet one at the front door of the Maloleys’ home. The sounds of a piano, at least one violin, and a cello come from different areas of their 1950s home. Something else sounds like a complete symphony.
“Oh, that’s a CD,” Julie Maloley says with a slight wave of her hand like it’s no big deal.
It’s a bit of a cacophony…but only a little bit. It is, however, everyday life for Maloley and her children. They all play the violin and the piano. Sons Sam, 14, and Jacob, 8, play the cello.
Caroline, 13, practices the piano daily for approximately 30 minutes after breakfast, then moves to her violin. Sam practices cello after breakfast, then moves to the piano. Meredith, 17, practices the violin after she attends a math class at Millard North first thing in the morning.
For now, she’s the only one attending class in a traditional school building. Sam wants to play baseball in high school, so along with violin, piano, and cello, he plays on a select baseball team. And yes, he also studies.
Julie home-schools her kids using a curriculum called Mother of Divine Grace. The Catholic-based curriculum emphasizes liberal arts. Youngest daughter Clara comes in from the main room to the library, with its built-in bookcases packed with tomes on subjects ranging from literature to music theory to biblical studies, and plunks down at the table with a handwriting book and a pencil.
“It’s distracting out there,” she announces, proceeding to perfectly copy pages of cursive letters—mimicking skills learned in earlier decades.
Indeed. Youngest son Zachary, who turns 7 on June 2, practices piano with Caroline’s aid. Jacob stands around anxiously waiting with his cello.
“Jacob! Just wait!” Julie calls out as she hears a low note from the string instrument combined with the sounds of the piano. “Sam will be done soon.”
As Sam comes up from the basement, Zachary heads down.
The chaos actually benefits the kids. They study under the Suzuki method, a theory of musical study started in the 20th Cenutry by Shin’ichi Suzuki. Central in this philosophy is that all people can (and will) learn from their environment.
The family’s affair with music began when oldest Madeline, 20, was 3. Julie’s nieces and nephews played instruments, so Julie and husband
Skip began violin lessons for their daughter. The next year Madeline began playing piano.
“It kind of snowballed one right after the other,” Julie claims.
Madeline now studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on a violin scholarship.
They aren’t always this anxious to practice. Today (April 13) is Clara’s 11th birthday, and they are all practicing willingly, because they are going to the zoo for her special day. Mom told them they need to finish practicing and schoolwork before they can leave.
Besides, a big event is about to happen. The beautiful, yet disjointed sounds of cello and violin heard in the Maloleys’ home are brought together along with violas and a stand-up bass that Friday night at the Omaha Conservatory of Music’s opening night gala. Guests sit in the new concert hall that once housed the sanctuary of Temple Israel, listening to the sounds of the Beatles performed by 30 young strings players. Five of those players hold the last name Maloley.
The group performing such well-known pop tunes as “Let it Be” is Frontier Strings, an ensemble at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.
Aside from performing with the strings group, Meredith takes violin lessons from executive director Ruth Meints. She plays at Hospice House on Wednesday nights, (per mom’s orders) and teaches music to 16 students, who troop through the house one right after another each weekend. Her ultimate goal is to become a music teacher.
Sitting in the audience, often, is their father. Skip is the lead database administrator for Green Plains and owns Pacific Solutions Inc.
“Dad enjoys watching the kids. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Julie says of both homeschooling and allowing the kids to participate in multiple music lessons.
Julie herself doesn’t claim to be a musician, but is able to play piano and violin. She often practices with the kids, and sits in on lessons. One of the cores of the Suzuki method is that the parent be able to supervise instrument practice, and take notes at lessons in order to coach the children effectively.
She has coached them well. The perfect sounds of Bach’s Gavat come from Clara and Caroline’s violins, along with several other youngsters, as guests stroll through the executive suite at the conservatory’s gala. The Maloleys, along with all the children, are poised, eager, and happy to perform.
“It’s not that I think they will be Juilliard musicians, but it’s something they can do for the rest of their lives.”