Making Practice Their Own


Libby E said: Jun 23, 2016
 1 posts

I am a new parent to violin lessons with a young child of 4 years of age. How do I begin with our at-home lessons without pressure or taking the fun-to-learn/practice away from my child? I feel like I am the only parent who can’t get this right & I want this to be an enjoyable moment in time for my child & me. How can I tell that my child is enjoying practicing?

Paula Bird said: Jun 25, 2016
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts

Hi, Libby,

This is such an interesting subject and personal to each particular family situation. Your teacher will be your best guide and mentor on this journey. You might be interested in two things:

Teach Suzuki Podcast: This podcast is designed to guide parents (and teachers) on the Suzuki journey. I’m sure that many of your questions are covered in the episodes that have been published so far. Let me know if you have other questions that need to be addressed in future episodes. The website for the podcast can be found at:

Teach Suzuki Blog: This is my blog, which has been going on since 2010. There are lots of articles that may address many of your current concerns.

There are also many other wonderful blogs out there, that I would like to recommend as well:

Rethinking Genius
Plucky Violin Teacher
Edward’s Violin Studio: Edward provides many helpful articles about practicing issues
The Practice Shoppe: Leslie Thackeray’s website has lots of cute items to help the practicing! I interviewed Leslie on my blog here)
Music in Practice: Sue Hunt has put together several wonderful sets of materials for practicing and review. I highly recommend it. (I interviewed Sue on my blog here)
Kaleidoscopes for Violin: this website has additional materials, videos, and other information that may interest you or your child’s teacher as you continue in lessons; a trained Suzuki teacher, Elise is full of clever ideas about teaching and learning, and her materials are very interesting! Timothy provides interesting articles about various pieces throughout the Suzuki violin literature

If you are interested in joining my newsletter (2 times a month), please let me know and I’ll add you to my mailing list.

Many more wonderful teachers are starting blogs and maintaining websites with lots of interesting information. And you will always find a willing listener here on the forums, so fire away with your questions and experiences.


Paula E. Bird

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

Alan Duncan said: Jun 28, 2016
Suzuki Association Member
78 posts

Well, as far as being a parent practice partner goes, we’re all just making this up on-the-fly! Seriously.

I would just say make as much as you can into a game. Children love collecting things—even things of inconsequential value. They get a bean to put in a jar every time they accomplish a task. Determine the number of repetitions by tossing dice. Lots of variations. Once their repertoire of practice tasks grows, you can do more complex games.

For a while we used puppets to enliven practice. Here’s an article I wrote on how that went: Puppets!

Above all, I must say that practice with a 4 year-old is not an entirely pleasant exercise! My now 8 year old daughter began lessons at 3 and for the first year and a half would complain bitterly about practice. We did two things:

  1. Most importantly, we practiced anyway. Some parents allow the child to quit if the child isn’t enjoying it on the mistaken hypothesis that practice struggles ruin one’s love of music. I just say it’s like brushing one’s teeth. No one enjoys it. But it must be done. If practice is done with love, patience, and a long-range view of what’s possible, it will be a just a bump in the road. (Other bumps will follow, only different…)
  2. We kept our “ears to the ground” looking for ways to do better. Mostly we made one parent the practice partner and the other parent the interested but only occasional observer. Then the games and later the lists and schedules that she likes making.

After the first 1.5—2 years of daily practice, it was simply a daily habit. Once they see the effects of consistent practice in their playing, that alone will propel them.

Even under the best of circumstances, it’s a long time before they can make practice their own, which is OK because there are lots of good moments in practice. And trying moments, too. Best of luck.

Edward said: Aug 3, 2016
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
69 posts

Patience. 4-year-olds take longer to ramp up. We adults have to supply most of the initiation energy at first to get the thing launched.

I have a free guide for getting started in practice motivation (thanks for the reference Paula!) here:

And practice tips focused on young beginner technique that they can understand here:
Beginning Practice Tips

Hope this helps!

Laura Burgess said: Aug 4, 2016
Laura Burgess
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
34 posts


I enjoyed your practice tips! Are you comfortable if I share them with my families?



Edward said: Sep 9, 2016
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
69 posts

Please share! A new one posted this week:
Practice Tip #13—Spider Crawl

And they can sign up to get them by email on the homepage:

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