Keeping up practice/lesson on a year travelling

Pamela Fennell said: Feb 9, 2017
 2 posts

My kids both do suzuki violin (1 at the end of book 1 and 1 in the early part). I don’t have any musical education at all and feel like our progress so far is hard won and the kids and I are keen to keep progressing (their Dad is less keen but that’s another story!) The problem is that we are going to be travelling for a year with stays of a couple of months in San Francisco, Vancouver and Sydney but also a fair amount of backpacking. Has anyone done similar and managed to keep the practice going and do you have any tips? Also, do you think we’d be able to find teachers willing to take us on for 8 weeks or so when we are in one place for a while? Our current violin teacher has offered to do some Skype lessons but I think we are going to need some hands on support too.

We’d also be keen to do some group lessons as we’re going to be homeschooling due to moving around so much so it would be great for the kids to meet other kids.



Margaret Watts Romney said: Feb 9, 2017
Margaret Watts Romney
Suzuki Association Member
Longmont, CO
21 posts

What a fantastic experience for your family! Memories for a lifetime will be created.

A few ideas/comments for you:
1) There is a teacher referral service here on the SAA website. That’s one good place to start to reach out to potential teachers in the areas you will be visiting.

  1. Hands-on work with a teacher is always superior to Skype.

  2. Review is powerful.
    Story time:
    Once upon a time in a lovely state called Utah, there were two boys about the same age who took from the same teacher for many years. They both were engaged in the process and working well at learning this intricate instrument. One day, one of the parents of one boy decided that paying for violin lessons wasn’t “worth it” anymore. The boy was very disappointed that lessons had to stop. He loved his violin, so he kept playing it. He didn’t have instruction for how to go on, so he just played the same pieces over and over again. Four years passed, and the parent of this boy saw his dedication and decided to start lessons again. The boy was very excited, joined up with his former teacher, and began immediately. There happened to be a recital that week. Since the boy had been playing the same piece for years, that was what he was ready to play on the recital. As he was warming up with the pianist, the OTHER boy walked in and heard him. He was shocked, went to the teacher and said, “I thought I was the most advanced student on this concert!” The teacher laughed and said, “Don’t you recognize this piece? You played it 4 years ago!”
    The boy who hadn’t had lessons had grown so very proficient on his piece that his technique sounded like a more advanced child.

The moral of the story: Sometimes you can move forward by studying deeply the place you are now.

Disclaimer: This might not work with a student who is still establishing the fundamentals of technique.

Hope these ideas help your planning.

Also—I wouldn’t take a violin backpacking. :-)

Kristiina said: Feb 10, 2017
 14 posts

If you keep practicing everywhere and also outside in parks and street and you make it fun, you will end up having kids that love performing and can perform anything anywhere. So as you move a lot that is one thing to keep in mind. Practise everywhere, violin is easy to carry with you and you cannot leave in the car anyway so there really is no limitations on practise time, just be bold enough to do it where you just happen to be :)
I assume you have a good tuner program on your phone/ipad.

Janse Vincent said: Feb 11, 2017
Janse Vincent
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Madison, WI
6 posts

A family of mine backpacked in Scotland for over a month with their violins. The boys were in books 5 and 7. They rented lesser quality instruments than their usual ones. The mom, a bit of a techie, made digital copies of their books by scanning them with an app. All of their listening was also digitally available.
Similar to what the responder above suggested, they made violin a part of their daily adventures.
If backpacking is only for shorter periods of time and you decide not to take the violins along, you might be able to just do extra listening and have your teacher suggest some non-violin exercises or note reading like learning flash cards.
Finally, finding a teacher where you have some of your longer stays would be great. Fitting in 2 extra students for a couple of months may be easier for a teacher than if it were for the whole year. I say give it a try. Happy travels!

Pamela Fennell said: Feb 23, 2017
 2 posts

Thanks for the suggestions! We’re still at an early stage in the suzuki journey so I think we need the hands on support. I’ll try contacting a few teachers in the area we’ll be staying and see if anyone would be happy to take us on for a short spell.

Thanks again,


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