Bright Spots in Home Schooling

March 8, 2005  

Homeschooled Pianist Headed for Graduate School in England

by Andrea Longbottom

When Scott MacIntyre was put to bed at night as a small child, his parents would pop a music tape in his cassette player. After listening for a while, Scott didn't fall asleep—he headed to the piano to pick out the tunes! Scott has always loved music, and his talent has attracted the attention of people from Arizona to England. This year, Scott was named a Marshall Scholar, a distinction that will enable him to spend two fully funded years in England studying music at the graduate level. He also was awarded a place on USA Today's All-USA College Academic First Team 2005.

Scott's path to becoming a Marshall Scholar began early in life. He started classical piano lessons at age 5. Before entering college, Scott performed in concerts and at events across the nation. He also studied music in Canada and Austria. At age 14, Scott enrolled in Arizona State University, where he has studied piano for the past four years. He will graduate in May 2005 with a degree in piano performance.

In 2004, Scott applied for the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, which are awarded to high-achieving students who want to study in the United Kingdom. The application process required Scott to write several essays and undergo a round of grueling interviews at the British consulate in California. His hard work paid off when he was named a winner of the Marshall Scholarship. Scott will depart for Cambridge University this fall, where he will spend one year acquiring his master's in musicology. In fall 2006, Scott plans to attend the Royal College of Music in London and acquire a master's degree in piano performance.

Scott is also excited about being part of the All-USA College Academic First Team, a USA Today program that recognizes students for outstanding achievements. Scott was one of 20 college seniors throughout the country to receive this honor. He received $2500, a trophy, and a short feature story in USA Today.

Scott gives homeschooling much of the credit for his recent achievements. He was homeschooled all the way through elementary and high school. "My mom's great for sticking with it for so long!" he says. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed Scott to practice for hours at the piano each day. He was able to move at his own pace and learned to work hard and with persistence.

Scott's mother, Carole MacIntyre, says she and her husband, Doug, first began homeschooling Scott before kindergarten. Because Scott was born with a visual impairment, he has no peripheral vision and only a few degrees of tunnel vision. Specialists from the local public school told the MacIntyres, "Most blind children are late bloomers." Scott's parents decided to wait a year before sending their son to public school. In the meantime, they worked with him at home. The arrangement was so successful that the MacIntyres decided to continue homeschooling. "We went with God's leading," Carole says. "We said, ‘We'll step out on a limb.'" She and her husband didn't foresee homeschooling Scott through high school, but taking it one year at a time, that's what they ended up doing.

Homeschooling wasn't always easy for Carole. Because of Scott's visual impairment, teaching him required different techniques and special equipment. The MacIntyres were thankful for the willingness of their local school in California to let them borrow Braille books and other equipment for visually impaired learners. Carole agrees with Scott that homeschooling allowed him to move at his own pace and hone his God-given abilities. She says, "In his case, [the flexibility of homeschooling] absolutely allowed him to excel."

Homeschooling has allowed the MacIntyres to spend a large amount of time together as a family. Scott's younger siblings, who are 16 and 13, are also homeschooled. They love to sing and have collaborated with Scott on five classical and contemporary CDs. The MacIntyres enjoy taking family trips, especially to go skiing.

After his college days are over, Scott hopes to be a professional performer and songwriter. He loves to entertain and says it's very rewarding to hear how members of his audience have been blessed by his music. In the future, Scott also hopes to devote more time to some of his other interests, which include computer programming and law.

"There's so much to be learned in life," he says, adding that homeschooling helped him develop an appreciation for learning. Scott advises other homeschoolers to go at their own pace but always to push ahead—there's no telling where their developing talents and interests might lead!

 Other Resources

Visit Scott's website at http://www.scottmacintyre.com.

To read USA Today's article about Scott, go to http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-02-16-college-2005-first-team_x.htm.

To learn more about the Marshall Scholarship, visit http://www.marshallscholarship.org/.

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