Reluctant Player and Summer Suzuki Institute

Kim Hatler said: Feb 17, 2014
 4 posts

Hi! I have two children- one is 5 (girl) and one is 8 (boy). I started my 5 year old in suzuki violin lessons last semester, and decided to have my son join her this semester. He is older, of course, but he has already surpassed her and is doing very well. But if asked, he would say that he doesn’t really like playing the violin- he thinks it is “nerdy”. On the other side of that-he loves the attention he gets from adults in our family for how well he is doing, and he will practice, reluctantly. My teacher suggested that we go to a suzuki institute this summer (there is one locally). I am all for it, but when I suggested it to him he said that he did not want to go, and only wanted to go to his normal summer camp and does not want to do any weeks at any other camps. A little more background—he did go to a lego camp last summer and hated it- mostly (I think) because he did not know anyone there.
Here are my concerns:
1. The institute is expensive, which is fine if he really loves it, but I really don’t want to spend the money if he is going to hate it.
2. I will be with him, so I don’t want to listen to him complaining the whole time about how miserable he is. (Especially since I will be taking a week off of work and will not get paid for said week.)
3. I don’t want it to turn him off from the violin altogether- because despite the fact that he calls it “nerdy”, he is starting to like it better.
4. He will not know anyone there.

My daughter is a lot more “game”, and I was thinking I would just take her- maybe for a half day- and sort of check it out this year. If it seems like something he would like then both kids could go next year. I suggested this to both my teacher and to the administrator of the suzuki institute here in town, and they both kept going on and on about how fun it was and how kids love it so much and hate for it to end. I remember going to summer camps (not suzuki) that were magical like that when I was a kid and if the experience is really always like that for almost every kid then I am willing to try it. I would love to hear from anyone who has been to suzuki institutes- especially from those parents and teachers with reluctant kids- about their experiences. I would also like to hear from suzuki newbies- because I did not grow up playing an instrument and this is our family’s first experience with music playing .
Thanks in advance for your answers! Kim

Sylviane said: Feb 28, 2014
 20 posts

Hi Kim,
As parents, I can feel your worries by enrolling a child into an activity that he’s reluctant. Does your summer camp have a half-day program? or just a less intense program that only asks your child to be there 2-3 hours per day? Perhaps in this way, he can still enjoy and learn and make some friends and next year he is more willing to come back?
Or is there any friends from his group lesson who are going to the camp? Perhaps you can ask them to go together?
My daughter is 8 now and she has been going to summer camp since she was 4, and it has always been an exciting experience. She started by going only to a class, and then stepped up to a junior program the following year, last year she took 2 instruments, and this year she is going to try the chamber program. The benefits are great but it’s true the children must also willing to go there. In our case, my daughter gets to meet her friends from the Group Class and others from our town, that’s probably also why she is always looking forward to going there.
I hope together with your teacher and the institute administrator you can find the best solution for your son.
Good luck!

Sue Hunt said: Mar 1, 2014
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I believe that, for my own good, I was enrolled in school and I was very reluctant. No effort was spent in helping me to recognise and build on the things that I liked about it. I was given more of what I didn’t like or understand in an effort to make it sink into my brain. All I can say is that it wasn’t too successful.

What I have taken from this is that when a child is reluctant or even acting out, this is a sign of being overwhelmed. Rather than sheltering him from situations, you need to build on what a child enjoys.

Chat with your child. Encourage him to recognise the good in a situation or activity. If you can get them to describe the little bits that they like about it, using all of their senses, you will have a powerful tool towards increasing motivation. Everybody wins, when you make the good in a situation appear brighter and more tangible.

Barb said: Mar 3, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

Sue, I think I have to print that for my parent notebook!

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

Sue Hunt said: Mar 4, 2014
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Thanks Barb. I think that good memories grow self confidence. They provide powerful motivation to try new experiences.

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