Home schooling allowed the Payne children of King George County to find their musical footing.
Parents Jennifer and Kirby Payne aren’t musically talented, but their four children — Zachary, 22; Luke, 20; Kaylee, 17; and Kelsey, 14 — are orchestra aficionados.
The older three attend the University of Mary Washington and make up three-fourths of UMW’s String Quartet and part of its Philharmonic Orchestra.
Fellow home-schooler Juliette Guilloux is the fourth member.
Like many home-schoolers, Zachary Payne worked at his own pace and set a goal of rehearsing the violin five hours a day. He usually met it by practicing between other classes.
His siblings also have placed more emphasis on music, but they don’t sit in a corner constantly, bows in hand.
Their mother helped them with English and the arts; their father, an engineer at the Navy base, with science and math; and they found other classes, sports and extracurricular activities in Fredericksburg and King George.
Their schedules typically have been so jam-packed, Kelsey, 14, regularly works on her laptop on her way to another activity.
Even so, home schooling has given them the flexibility to manage their own time and pick their favorite pursuits.
“I don’t think I would have been exposed to all the different music opportunities if I had been in pubic school,” said Kaylee, a 17-year-old UMW freshman. “I got to see and do more.”
The Paynes laughed at the perception others have of home-schoolers. They’re quick to point out they’re certainly not “settlers,” people who churn butter and make their own clothes, as depicted in a cable-television commercial.
Unless people ask, Luke Payne usually doesn’t tell others he was taught at home. He doesn’t want that to be his singular identity.
“No one assumes we’ve been home-schooled because of the way we carry ourselves,” he said, “which is a good thing.”