Managing student frustration

Tiffany said: Sep 10, 2014
Tiffany Osborn
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Los Angeles, CA
41 posts

Hi All

I have a new student, this week was their second week, and I can tell already most of our lessons are going to be relationship building and frustration management. What do you do to offer some help on learning how to deal with things that are frustrating to a 5 year old? Or any age, really?

In the lesson I tried to get him to make eye contact and count to 10 with me, he couldn’t, I asked if he knew how to snap (trying to move attention away from the issue) he couldn’t, could he clap? Yes- so we did some clapping games and then tied it into the rhythm reading/clapping he was enjoying earlier in the lesson.

This student is going to need a host of frustration management skills, any suggestions welcome. The tear-inducing melt-down was non violin related (he wanted juice instead of the water the father provided [by going all the way back out to the car]), but I could see the future of teaching him, laying on the floor crying when things don’t go perfectly with the violin, and they’re not going to! That’s the nature of learning an instrument (or anything!). I need help teaching him how to learn to cope…

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Sep 11, 2014
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

Honestly, the only way students like this work out is if you and the parent want exactly the same thing out of the lessons. In other words you guys are both ok with him not moving through the pieces quickly. And both of you are acknowledging the fact that the lesson is more or less going to be like a therapy session.

If that’s all out on the table then I just work with the student one challenge at a time. It’s actually a really good teaching experience because it makes you think about the real ONE point of your lesson rather than the three or four points you can usually cover with someone more willing.

I do make sure that I have very clear boundaries with students like this. I may not expect much out of them but I do expect them to complete what I ask no matter how long it takes. I also expect them to be respectful. If the respect isn’t there (not talking frustration tantrum, being rude) then the lesson ends with a bow and it’s up to the parent to take over from there.

Anne Marie said: Sep 11, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
Troy, NY
12 posts

What about having a palm labyrinth (or a paper finger labyrinth) in your studio for a frustrated student. I find that taking a few minutes to have a transition with mind and body helps.

This one ( ) has a nice description of the purpose of a palm labyrinth.

Good luck!

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