The “Other Sibling” Dilemma

Nora Friedman said: Sep 14, 2016
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
34 posts

Hi everyone,

This semester I am teaching a violin parents’ class. As always, I expect the question of what to do during practice time with siblings who are not taking an instrument to come up. This question always stumps me. 

I am wondering if you have any tips at all that have worked for you in the past. We have families with two or more children who are too little to start playing an instrument yet. 

My hope is to compile a document of ideas for new families. I know your time is precious, so don’t worry about civilities or long paragraphs. one sentence or a quick list is great. 

Thanks for your help!

We live in a very safe, small, college town. My little one often falls asleep in the car on our way to the lesson. I would park (windows open) right by the window of the church building where I could see her during the half-hour piano lesson. Alternatively, if she comes to class, she plays with the toys provided by the church/teacher. Or bringing her favorite activity along is helpful.

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 14, 2016
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

just a small note… I had a younger sibling join group class for the first time who said, during the group class, surreptitiously to the mom—”I used to be able to watch videos” -

Which made me think that perhaps it’s not a good idea to allow the younger sib to completely seal themselves off with screen & headphones during the group class if you want them to
A) get the benefit of learning before beginning formal lessons by hearing what’s going on in the class and
B) be eager to join the class at some future date

Vanamali Medina said: Sep 15, 2016
Vanamali Medina
Suzuki Association Member
Minneapolis, MN
4 posts

I have a 3.5 and 1.5yo, so I’m in the trenches with this. Quite honestly, there’s no easy solution unless you have a complacent younger kid who doesn’t mind being alone. The sound of the piano, however, is an instant draw to #2—and for good reason. After all, at every other time of the day, she’s welcomed, invited, and encouraged to join us and then suddenly we’re telling her to go away.

So, some things your parents can consider:

2nd adult present to take baby somewhere far away before practice begins. Play music in the basement, read books in the back bedroom, go to the park. Ideally, they’ll never know it happened.

Place practice during baby’s nap time or after their bed time, letting older child stay up a little later.

Have some practice time with baby first, so they get bored. Best as an addition to other methods since it won’t always work.

Stick baby in front of screen.

In our house, it’s the last one. We don’t consistently have both of us home at practice time and at baby nap time, 3.5yo is fried and practice doesn’t work well. So we practice after dinner and #2 gets to watch PBS Kids for a bit or pop bubbles on my tablet. Do I feel awesome about it? Nope. But it works consistently and it won’t be forever.

Nora Friedman said: Sep 22, 2016
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
34 posts

Thank you so much, all of you, for your thoughtful comments. These are wonderful suggestions, and I would love to hear more!

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