Encouraging Discouraged Parents


Michelle Kathryn Suhr said: Nov 6, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Cape Girardeau, MO
5 posts

I have a 4 year old boy in my small studio who is very musical and intelligent, yet has a very difficult time with behavior at his lesson. He spends most of his time whining at me and running over to mom saying he “doesn’t want to do that”. Despite all of my early childhood tricks to distract and redirect, once he has decided he’s not going to cooperate, that is the end. Mom said at his last lesson that it is painful to watch because he does not do this at home. She is now wondering if they should take a break or just quit. I know every studio has some attrition, and I’ve had this problem before. Some quit, some stick with it. I even used examples of my older students who displayed similar lesson behavior who stuck with it and are doing so very well, but I’m afraid her frustration level is at the top. As a parent, I have experience in this department with my youngest, but when she was little and behaving poorly, I could use my own household discipline. She now does beautifully, and her confidence in other disciplines in her life have blossomed because of it. I wish I could get this mother to see the benefits of self-disciplne and self-esteem that go along with the Suzuki method! Thank you in advance for your thoughts and advice.

Nina Westbrook said: Nov 6, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Viola, Violin
Burnsville, MN
7 posts

I know this may not be the perfect solution, because it does sound like you have really tried all your tricks. I have experienced different levels of maturity with 4 yr olds. they usually seem very happy to do things with their parents because of that bond, but sometimes the lesson with a new adult seems very uncomfortable to them no matter how sweet you are. so perhaps it might work if the mother were to rent a violin or find one used or get one somehow if they can afford it; and take lessons with him. That way, he might feel more comfortable for awhile in the lesson environment and even play with his mother at the lesson. Would he play for a stuffed toy that talks to him, etc. It sounds like you have tried every trick in the book so it’s probably not you. The long term goal is to pass the love of music & the violin along to a child. So to do it with the mother until he felt comfortable enough to do it with the ‘teacher’ might work as long as he is learning. And you might have to be the ‘coach’ with them for awhile until he felt comfortable enough to take lessons one on one. that might be a grown up goal to someday finally play for the teacher alone? An idea: Is he able to come to a pre-school Suzuki violin group so he sees other kids playing the violin? And is the mother committed to the violin enough to hang in there to find solutions?

Barbara Stafford said: Nov 6, 2015
Barbara Stafford
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
59 posts

One of my teacher trainers told us that if the parent is not going to learn the violin then she lets parents know that it would be better to wait until the child is older, like around 8 years to start violin. If the parent is learning violin from you, then you can teaching the parent violin and train the parent to teach the child at home letting the young child draw or do something quietly during the lesson. Another teacher trainer told our class that at the young ages, she only teaches the parent, and the parent teaches the child, that avoids a lot of difficulties. That was what I heard at my training sessions. If I understood them correctly, I think the child will eventually want to do things by themselves and demonstrate directly for you, as they see their parent doing it.

Arlene Renico said: Nov 7, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Belmont, MI
2 posts

As a Suzuki flute teacher there are many postings that don’t
relate me or my students. However, there are many that do.
Teaching is teaching often, no matter the instrument.
And I want to say a big THANK YOU for all you thoughtful instructors
that share your ideas and potential solutions to challenging situations!
My musical life (& studio) is richer because of your generosity.

Eva Brodbeck said: Nov 8, 2015
 18 posts

My daughter sometimes behaves poorly with the violin teacher while doing pretty well at nursery school and at home. I think partly because the teacher is quite stern with her, partly it is because I have to sit there watching her and the teacher during the lesson. I suspect she cannot deal with two adults present in her class and I am the distraction and she’s worried about my judgement on her. She would turn around and look at me occasionally and sometimes lie on the floor to draw my attention. I would try to record her lesson with a camera so that I don’t need to sit very close and observe her every move. My child is very self conscious, it is to a level that whenever I am attending her activities like this it bothers her. She is close to four now. I think your student maybe have the same psychological problem. There’s a deep worry inside the child’s mind that they might not be able to meet parents’ expectations when they’re learning something new and difficult.
This will make them want to bolt entirely from the task, or just run from there.

Nina Westbrook said: Nov 8, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Viola, Violin
Burnsville, MN
7 posts

Thank you for your input. I did not raise any kids, but have taught many many. It was very enlightening for me to hear your parent perspective on your child. That may very well be what a lot of 4 yr olds are experiencing and it will help me to understand them a little better now when I am teaching them. Thank you for sharing your insight.

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