Anyone practice with twins?

Erin & Christopher Palmer said: Jul 23, 2013
25 posts

My 5-year-old twin girls just started violin this summer. I am finding it difficult to structure practice in such a way that they can both participate equally without the other one getting bored. At this point they have a lot of non-playing things they need to work on, like the bow hold and violin hold, which we can all do together, but when it actually comes time to playing I can’t seem to figure out how to practice so that no one looses interest. Our time is limited too because I work full time and they have a younger sister. Any ideas on how to make the practice time be productive for everyone?

Also as a side-note, the girls have different teachers at the same school. (I am trying to prevent competitiveness to some degree.) Is that a horrible idea?

Community Youth Orchestra Of S CA said: Jul 24, 2013
 Violin, Viola
70 posts

They each deserve their own practice time to address their own individual needs. It’s fine to play through works together, but that’s not really practice. I know you have limited time with the kids, but is 10-15 minutes a day for each possible?

Heather Boulding said: Jul 24, 2013
Heather BouldingViolin
3 posts

Hi Erin,
I teach twins at the moment and I would practice with them the same way I teach them..that is separately. Each child will have their own individual needs and may even progress at different rates, which will make practicing together difficult as you are finding. Playing together is really a group class activity. Plus in practicing separately, you can get one on one time with each child, which will make the practice more focused and efficient. I agree 10-15 min each is probably enough at this age.

If it’s possible and not distracting, I’d have one child colour or do a puzzle or something quiet, but in the same room as you are practicing with the other twin. That way they are hearing you and often take in more than you realize. Then when it’s their turn, the other twin goes to colour. They often do this in pre-twinkle masterclasses and it works well.

In answer to your other question, I don’t think different teachers is a bad idea. Different teachers suit different children. But the same teacher works fine too. Down the road you may find one of the children is more suited to another instrument, like viola or cello, which would then really make sure they aren’t in competition with each other.

Hope that helps!

Heather Boulding
Blue Octopus Studio

Catherine Toda said: Jul 24, 2013
Catherine TodaPiano
Bomoseen, VT
5 posts

See Carrie Reuning-Hummel’s book called “Time to Practice: A Companion for Parents.”
It may not directly address practicing with twins, but it will address your child as an individual, which is so important.
I admire you as a Suzuki parent, there is nothing better for your children!
On the front cover of Carrie’s book, it says, “A Guided parenting journal designed to foster discoveries about you and your child through your musical journey together.”
She is an amazing violin teacher! I highly recommend her and this book!

Catherine Toda

Laura said: Jul 24, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Mancos, CO
106 posts

I have a couple students who are twins and like Heather I teach them separately. I suggest that they practice separately as well. They watch each others lessons, but i know that at home (at least with one family) the twin that is not practicing has another task like homework or chores.


Jennifer Visick said: Jul 25, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

I have a family where both children are studying violin—not twins, but close in age and both children started at the same time.

Their mother seemed to be having trouble helping them practice at home until I inquired about how they were practicing. It turned out they were trying to all practice at the same time. I recommended that each child have a separate practice time and practicing, seemingly overnight, became exponentially more productive for both children.

Sue Hunt said: Jul 26, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I know it is tempting to make one plan fit two people. The more you can do to help twins to be aware and proud of their individuality, the better. My children had separate practice times, and each had my full focus. I see no reason why you should have to share a life just because you share a birthday.

I’m sure that parents and teachers are all too aware of the behavioural issues which can result from having to sit quietly, watching someone get all the attention for doing something that you can do too.

Rebecca Ark said: Jul 27, 2013
 12 posts

I have a 5 year old who has been playing for a year and a half and twin 4 year olds playing since February.

I started out trying to practice with my twins together. It didn’t last long! We are so much more productive doing separate practices but three practices with three kids in the summer is hard (and long) and I’m dreading the school year when we have extra time commitments!

Good luck to you!

Erin & Christopher Palmer said: Jul 29, 2013
25 posts

Thanks everyone! I started practicing with the girls individually and it works so much better! It takes more time on my part, but I can tell, they get a lot more out of it! It is also a lot less hectic, because I only need to focus on 1 kid at 1 time! Thank you very much! I have no idea why I didn’t think of this myself! (Now I just need to brace myself for the time it will take for me to practice with all 3 when my youngest starts lessons in ~2 years!)

Barb said: Jul 29, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

Hi Erin,

I don’t have direct experience in the matter (I do teach brothers who are about one and a half years apart), but maybe down the road there will be some instances where you can combine practice time—when reviewing repertoire, for instance. Eventually duets, trios…learning diplomacy! So, as practice time increases, your time and attention might not increase at the same rate.

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

Maggie said: Aug 27, 2013
 3 posts

I’m glad I read this post because I’m about to have similar problem: my younger one is about to start in two weeks! I will definitely seperate the practice and just have to make sure the other one is fully occupied! Thanks!

Diana Chen said: Feb 19, 2014
 3 posts

I’m so glad I read this.
My 4-year-old twins have always done everything violin-related together—their teacher even used to have them play the same instrument at the same time (one holding the bow, one doing the strings).
I practice with them at the same time, but they “take turns”.
I am going to try practicing with each one separately and see how that works.

Bessie Gavrilis & George Alexandrakis said: Feb 20, 2014
2 posts

Thank you for posting this.
I have 5 year old twins who have been playing violin for 9 months. At first they were taking lessons together but after a while they clearly needed to be taught seperately.
Again, things were fine at first….but now we’re getting to the point that one is progressing more rapidly than the other. I had imagined that at some point this might happen as they excel at things at different paces.
Of course that makes lessons and practice more difficult.
More problematic however is that I think our current teacher is a good fit for one twin and not so good for the other. So we are now in the process of switching over to a Suzuki trained teacher which I hope will address the deficiencies in the slower progressing twin. That’s an even bigger headache as of course as twins will be, they demand similar experiences and are alway in search of how they see things unequal between them.
Twins are an especially challenging problem. My only advice is to make sure that you
are sensitive to each child’s individual needs. Even if it’s inconvenient or more expensive, do each child their individual justice and let them experience the joys of learning their instrument seperatly and at their own pace. Try to enrich each child’s experience by exposure the the other child’s individuality. It won’t be the same experience …don’t try to make it the same. Embrace the differences in each child and use those differences in experiences to enrich eachother’s path. The road is rough but I think it’s worth it for both mom and the children to pursue it individually in such a way that the twins can complement eachother’s seperate experience. I’m still learning to balance all this and it has been just that, one constant learning experience.
Best of luck to you. It’s quite a ride.

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