Need advice for parents while I vacation!

Diane said: Jul 19, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

Every year I take 3—4 weeks off from teaching violin from August—early September. It’s become a vitally important time for me to re-fuel myself for the upcoming school year. I guard this time carefully and have minimum contact with my students and their families during this time.

Over the years I’ve had some parents get really frustrated. Especially if they happen to be vacationing in early August and then I’m gone. Their children are motivated to learn new music. Even if I load them up with music outside the Suzuki repertoire—the kids are gravitated to the Suzuki repertoire. Parents want to honor the “wait for Diane to show you the right way” but they also want to honor their kids desires to keep going. Then Parents find that loss of motivation occurs and when lessons resume it’s unbearable getting the motivation back.

We live in a small town with limited resources. There aren’t any other trained Suzuki violin teachers and the local music school has no camps during the time I’m on vacation.

In the past I’ve just shrugged my shoulders and figured that the parents had to deal with it and that it’s super important for my health and well being to re-fuel myself. But it truly has been year after year of the same look of desperation from the parents as our summer lessons wind up.

I’d be happy to share any suggestions y’all might have to these parents!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Ruth Brons said: Jul 19, 2011
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
West Orange, NJ
150 posts

Most definitely, keep your re-charge time sacrosanct.

If you haven’t already, this would be a great time to encourage families not wishing to take a break to explore a few of the many wonders of SmartMusic.
A few of its features popular with my students are it easy to use tuner, metronome and recording ability, the tempo-adjustable Suzuki accompaniments, and the areas with the “assessment” feature, such as scales, ear training, rhythms, method book and orchestra selections. The “assessment” feature turns the notes on the screen that a correctly played to green, indicates in red which notes were played early, late, sharp or flat, and also provides a percentage correct score —the kids use it like a video game to improve their score. Smartmusic is user-friendly enough that most families should be able to figure out a good many of the features on their own, although it is fun to spend a lesson giving the students a “tour” of your own favorite features. Even if all they use it for is to burn one choice mp3 file of their favorite daily performance onto a CD each day, to present as a gift to you in September, it could work to keep motivation up.

Sue Hunt said: Jul 19, 2011
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Yes, it is so important to keep daily practice going during the long summer holiday. I do remember that desperate feeling as I contemplated a long summers without a teacher. New pieces were frightening. What if we got it all wrong?

There are 2 things I would have appreciated:

-1 Mini goals, with how-tos and dates by which to accomplish them. Many parents, and I include myself among them, need to be taught goal setting and prioritisation.

-2 Practice games—just anything to add a bit of variety and to spice things up a bit. What I dreaded was doing the same old things for 2 months.

Since then as a teacher, I’ve been avidly collecting practice games and trying them out on my students who, bless them, are really entering into the spirit of things. I’m really noticing the difference in how much more prepared they are for lessons after getting a new game.

I’ve just started putting collections of games on my site and the number is growing. You can get the basic starter collection free just for signing up. Music in Practice

Barb said: Jul 19, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

Hi Diane,

Are there teachers of other instruments who might like to trade some teaching time? Technique wouldn’t be covered, but musicianship, performance, etc. can be. They could take your students who want to have an ear, and you could take theirs while they have a break, maybe during a different part of the summer. If you have a Suzuki cello teacher near you a lot of the repertoire they teach in the early books would even be the same.

Or maybe you could set up some practice partner dates for those interested, where students (and parents) could work together. You could pair an older mentor student with a beginner, or two at a similar level together. They could work on the usual repertoire or duets or trios.

Hope it all goes well and you have an enjoyable break!

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Kim said: Jul 19, 2011
 39 posts

Our teacher does this occasionally. She has given out extremely detailed assignments. They typically include review, games, outside pieces, etc. But she will often say if on our current Suzuki piece we can accomplish goals X, Y, and Z we can move on to the next piece. And then she will give very detailed instructions about how to start it (learn the C section first, hands separately, watch the articulation in measure 29, etc). She might even throw 2 pieces at us over a break depending on what’s coming up.

It is a little risky and sometimes requires a little remediation when we return. But personally as a parent, I think it is WELL worth the motivation boost over a long break. Especially if we have good momentum going at that time.

Diane said: Jul 19, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

Love it all!!!—I’m going to print all this out and hand it to parents. Keep ‘em coming!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Sue Evans said: Jul 20, 2011
Sue EvansPiano, Organ, Recorder, Voice
Lawrence, KS
1 posts

I do a parent education class at my monthly recitals.  I moved from California
to Kansas-Missouri and need to start new Suzuki students.  Any help?  Sue

Betty Douglas said: Jul 20, 2011
 16 posts

Sue- Could you start a new thread, please?
It’s very easy- go to
Click on “discussion” -green tab
Click on New Topic”- yellow tab
Thanks and good luck!

Betty Douglas

Betty Douglas, flute teacher

Suzanne Lichtenstein said: Jul 20, 2011
 Piano, Voice
1 posts

SmartMusic sounds wonderful. Can anyone give recommendations for a similar program for piano students?


Suzanne Lichtenstein Piano School
Innovative Techniques for Faster Learning & Long-Lasting Results

Irene Mitchell said: Sep 8, 2011
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
114 posts

sue it looks like someone hijacked your email. if you change your password, that should fix it.

Irene Mitchell

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 8, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

If you have some older, more advanced students and you spend a little time teaching them how to teach, you could have them be your “substitute teachers” for a couple of weeks.

Being your students, they would know how you do things; they could charge a rather reduced rate from what you charge but still make a little money, and the younger kids would have a chance to get to know the older kids in your studio.

And, teaching might keep them out of trouble (i.e. give them something to think about so they themselves don’t move too far ahead, nor get bored).

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