A "Verein" is something inherently German, I think. It's a club - but much more than that. Every German is a member of some kind of Verein and since the Vereine do a lot of kids and youth work, pretty much every child grows up a member of one.
In our town, there is a Sportverein (sports club), a Musikverein (music club), and I'm sure there are various others that support the local museums, there's one for the devlopment of the school, there is the "Rhönclub" which is unique in not carrying the word "Verein" in its name. All over Germany there are hiking clubs, stamp collecting clubs, chess clubs, beard-wearing men's clubs, tennis clubs, reading clubs, sports shooter's clubs, swimming clubs, cooking clubs... anything you can think of will have a Verein. There is always a written charter, and there are bylaws, and membership fees. You pay your (often very nominal) fee, become a member, and get to hang out with like-minded people who are interesting in raising hydrangeas or rabbits.
You are not a proper German, really, without being a member of some kind of Verein - and that is especially true in the countryside, and doubly so if you have kids. Vereine allow you access to affordable leisure activities and if you have kids, especially if you have plenty of them, the "affordable" part is invaluable. Also, the Vereine act locally, so it cuts down on your needs to chauffeur the kids around all day. There is enough of that anyway, so any kind of local activity my kids can walk to is highly appreciated.
The Musikverein had a kind of open house yesterday. The youth wind orchestra performed a few short pieces, and then interested kids were invited to try out the instruments on display. I had to think of my slightly germophobic sister-in-law as wind instruments were shared freely among the kids, with scarlet fever running rampant in town at the moment. Ah, what is life without a bit of risk, eh?
Both Jacob and David were immediately drawn to an instrument.
Jacob couldn't wait to get his hands on the saxophone and I have to say, not only did it look good on him (you know that will be a thing in just a few years), he also managed to get a mean little tune going, to the amazement of the owner of the sax and the conductress. There was absolutely no question in his mind that he wants to learn to play the saxophone, and nothing else.
David chose the French Horn. Why? I asked myself, and him, the same question. "It's cool!" he said. I think as a smallish boy, he is drawn to the sheer size of it. I'm afraid that with the French Horn, we'll have to travel for music lessons but as it is rated a "rare instrument" (meaning, not too many people actually play it), we can get subsidies from both the county and the Bavarian Musicverein for purchasing an instrument. He certainly loved it and didn't put it down until he wanted to try out the drums.
That one I vetoed. We have neither the space nor the sound proofing for a percussion set. Or the nerves. I am quite all right with the shrieking of the violin and the soon booming sounds of a saxophone. Not the drums, thank you. So he stuck with the French Horn.
So I signed all kids up for the music school via our local Musikverein - that gives you a 5% discount and what with the fees for the music school being stiff, and the yearly fee for a family in the Musikverein at 15 Euros, that was a non-brainer. Still, it adds up with four kids. You get 45 minutes of music instruction a week for four kids for about $1500. Hm. Nobody said kids would be cheap.
I also signed Leah up for piano lessons. They all won't begin with their music lessons until the new school year in September and then she'll be five. She's already playing little tunes on the piano with a nice five-finger technique, and can reproduce tunes she hears. I think she'll be fine.
I really want the other two boys to play piano as well but I am not forcing anybody. And secretly, I'm thinking that piano, violin, sax and French Horn could make a funky little jazz band one day. That would be the day we found our own Jazzverein Fladungen, eh?