Student who hates sound of violin

Elizabeth said: Jan 3, 2013
Elizabeth SkinnerViolin, Viola
Essex Junction, VT
8 posts

OK—this is strange, but I have an 11 yr-old student who plays viola and is extremely sensitive to the sound of violins and even violas—any and all loud sounds. I’ve suggested ear plugs that would dampen the sound but still allow him to hear but he constantly forgets them or they don’t work well enough. I’ve even suggested that he might like a lower instrument such as cello or bass but he doesn’t like change.

Needless to say, this is hampering his progress!!

Thanks for the ideas.

Heather Reichgott said: Jan 18, 2013
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
95 posts

I think a different instrument is the solution, honestly. If you don’t enjoy the sound of your instrument then playing is not going to be fun. If he has any other sensory issues then it might be good to try out a few other instruments in case the physical oddities of some of them (reed vibrating in the mouth, etc) are problematic. Maybe discuss the reluctance-to-change issue with the parents.

Sue Hunt said: Jan 19, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Poor kid. I sympathise. Sometimes, it seems that everyone thinks that tonalisation = loud, penetrating and harsh.

The quality of instrument, strings and bow can make a huge difference to the sound. Might there be too much rosin on the strings and bow? This makes an unpleasant surface noise.

I have a student who is sensitive to the sound under his ear. He was frightened of making a loud noise and used to shoot the bow across the strings. When attempted to play forte, it sounded horrid. When he finally slowed down and let the viola take the relaxed weight of the arm, it suddenly began to sound like rich dark chocolate. He is now enjoying coaxing this chocolate sauce sound from his viola.

If this doesn’t work, it sounds like he will need to play something farther away from his ears, which will make a good sound no matter how delicately you play. Have you thought of Suzuki organ?

Elizabeth said: Jan 23, 2013
Elizabeth SkinnerViolin, Viola
Essex Junction, VT
8 posts

Thanks for your comments. As it turns out, he and his family decided to quit though he’s staying in orchestra. I do think a different instrument is in order but at least he’s playing at school.

Emily said: Nov 29, 2013
 59 posts

I’m sorry that he quit, that’s sad. Anyways, I was going to say that it may not be that he doesn’t like the sound of his instrument, it could be something else entirely. High pitched noises and resisting change often go hand in hand with several disabilities. It is very possible that one of those were plagueing him. I know a student who is Autistic, that does the same thing. It’s a possibility.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer

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