7 yr. old boy violin motor skills? focus?


Friederike said: Oct 30, 2015
Friederike Lehrbass
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
87 posts

I teach a 7 year old boy, who just started in august. The mom stays out of the room at the beginning, bec she thinks it helps her boy to concentrate ,what mostly does not help. She is very outgoing. The boy itself seems to have problems to focus and his mom said fine motor problems. The challenge is to get him to do all the skills at once. Meaning to keep the playing position while he ( with or without help) to try to get his bowhold right. And that even is a problem. He has a hard time to keep it correct. I mentioned to the mom about some moms learn to play violin also esp when child is very young.But she said she has no time bec she works.So it seems like we work on one thing and then the other falls apart.Or I help him with his bow hold and even hold his fingers, but he doesn’t seem to be really there. It’s also seems to frustrate him to not play really yet, but it’s a passive frustrating. Any thoughts. I was talking with the mother last lesson and she feels the same. We were wondering if they should take a break for a while or what other suggestions are there? do we need to only do one thing at a time? Like even let him sut down while we work on his bowhold? Thanks for suggestions. he is supposed to have some treatment for his finemotor skills. He seems to be fine with sports.Thanks

Praise the Lord with the stringed instrument

Rebecca said: Nov 1, 2015
 20 posts

I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in this at all, and I don’t know the situation very well so I’m not sure if what I say will mean anything.

If he is going to have treatment for his motor skill issues, then there is probably something diagnosed that his mom is aware of, and it can’t be overlooked. It would be normal for things to take longer for learning.

I would strongly recommend the mom be in the lessons. She could observe what you are teaching him and help him at home. If she is too busy to help him at home with his special needs, then maybe another family member can observe and help out. Someone needs to be present to reinforce what you are teaching him.

Are there certain things he does consistently get right that you can build on? Clapping rhythms, plucking the rhythm on the strings, up bow, down bow, etc.

I don’t know if you have tried this yet, but have you could hold the bow with him and guide it on the strings while you play the violin so he can hear himself “play”. Do you think that might motivate him?

Maybe instead of going from getting one thing right to getting everything right at the same time, you could go from getting one thing right to two things right at the same time.

Sorry it’s wordy, but I hope you can find resolution for this!

Laura said: Nov 2, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Stanton, MN
26 posts

A few things from my experience with both doing motor skill therapy with my kids, teaching my son, and others with motor skill issues,

  1. Take it slowly and set expectations that each child learns at their own pace and that this student needs to have the freedom to learn at the pace their body can integrate.

  2. Technique, technique, technique. Separate bow hand and violin hand work. This child needs many repetitions to teach muscle memory, and will need to revisit effective exercises. They will need left and right hand separated. Making bow holds, windshield wipers, open strings, etc are all great for the bow arm. I find that finger pattern work is very effective for these students…..like Barbara
    Barber’s Fingerboard Geography, make this routine work and create challenges and variety.

  3. Regular practice. Students with fine motor skill challenges have a harder time maintaining muscle memory, thus daily practice is critical. I find that my students who have fine motor struggles come to lessons with more tension in their bodies when they have not had a regular week of practice. When they practice daily, their bodies relax.

  4. I assign finger and hand development exercises to these students: finger circles with each finger and thumb where I try to pull the circle apart or push it together, finger fans, guess which finger, finger tapping to the thumb, sorting beans into egg cartons with each finger and thumb, bumpy rolly ball with each finger and thumb, keeping the mouth and other hand still…… If they are doing therapy ask that the practitioner do work with this hand development.

Good luck!


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