Falling behind other kids

Julie Winninger said: Aug 25, 2018
 1 posts

My daughter is almost 5 and started violin lessons at 3 1/2. She is the youngest in her group with the other kids her age starting a few months before her. As we have moved past the twinkles, she is struggling to move forward. She is only at line 2 of lightly row whereas the other kids are playing all of song of the wind.
Let me also say that I am not worried. I know this is part of learning and I’m pleased with her progress. But I can tell at group it really bothers her. The pain in her eyes that she doesn’t know as much absolutely crushes me as her mother.
I have told her over and over that it is okay. Any more advice on how to help her understand this complex feeling? How to boost her confidence? It is starting to effect practice time of her saying she’s not good enough and she doesn’t know the songs. My heart is breaking for her!

Paula Bird said: Aug 27, 2018
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts


How unusual that a 5 year old would notice this very tiny difference in levels of merely a few lines between songs. Lightly Row is the song right before Song of the Wind, so there really isn’t much of a difference here. And I find it unusual that a 5 year old would be even concerned with this sort of thing. Is your daughter often comparing herself to others in different areas? Have you noticed this sort of mindset before in other areas?

I would tweak her environment as much as you can. Make sure that the basics are in place first: daily practicing as your child’s teacher directs, daily listening to book 1 in its entirety, daily extra listening to Lightly Row (this may correct the problem after a few days), regular attendance at lessons and group classes. Usually the extra listening clears up any particular problem.

Have you pinpointed the exact stumbling block your daughter is having with Lightly Row? I want to stress that your daughter is really not behind at all, since the two songs are so close together in the repertoire and interconnected in terms of song parts. I would not spend any time addressing the issue that the child is upset about being “behind.” That doesn’t strike me as something that a child thinks about on the same level as an adult might consider it. Just keep plugging away on the things that you can control (see the above list), and watch how things improve.

I podcast several episodes about mindset, and perhaps you might find something useful there: link


Paula Bird
Teach Suzuki Podcast

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Joanne Shannon said: Aug 27, 2018
Joanne Shannon
Suzuki Association Member
Los Angeles, CA
142 posts

Usually it’s a very small obstacle, so if you can pinpoint a spot or two that she always stumbles on, you can break that down into two or three notes. Have her play them over & over again until you both get silly. LOTS of of listening to the recording is a BIG help, more than you’ll ever know.

Barbara Rylander said: Aug 28, 2018
Barbara RylanderViolin, Viola
Saline, MI
29 posts

My guess would be the listening also. Jeanne Ludke in her parent classes requires 5 hours daily of the recording running in the home. I rarely get my students’ families to listen any more than 2 hours. But those that actually do that really see a smoother learning process.

So, perhaps go over your lesson notes thoroughly to be sure you are completely and accurately following all instructions from the teacher. Be sure you do understand each task.

Also, if you are not already doing so, take a video of your daughter’s lessons and actually review the video!

These are all things that many families have discovered over the years lead to much better practice.

Be firmly entrenched in the Suzuki philosophy. Often I find that parents revert to their natural way of interacting, whereas the process Suzuki lays out is just remarkable: “Praise, don’t scold” “Without hurry, without rest” “We are the product of our environment”

And ask yourself questions from there. I totally agree with the comments above. Likely the feeling of failure is a result of some process in the practice environment, or group class. I have found that in our culture this sense of comparison does happen a lot and creeps into group class. But it is worth fighting against. Your noble heart should win out!

Laura McDermott said: Aug 29, 2018
Laura McDermott
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Aurora, CO
15 posts

Is it only group classes with no private lessons? If I am understanding correctly your daughter has played for about 1 1/2 years while the other students in her group class have played for closer to two years. I am assuming this is why the other students have learned more at this time and basing my response on that assumption.

What I don’t understand is if they are also having private lessons then why is everybody else at the same place? (If it is only a group class then I can better understand every one moving at the same pace.) Even when I have taught twins, they moved at different rates.

Is it possible you can schedule some extra lessons with the teacher or have a longer lesson to help your daughter catch up to the others?

To me, the critical thing is how your daughter is feeling about this. It sounds as if this is having a negative effect on her whereas we want Suzuki violin to be a positive experience which builds confidence. You can say wonderful things to her, but she is seeing in her group classes that everybody else is participating at times except her. I don’t think anything you say will be able to undo that. Yes, I absolutely believe a 5 year old can not help but be aware that everybody else in the class is playing at times except her.

What has your teacher said? What advice have they given you? Clearly if it continues without some sort of way for your daughter to feel more positive about group class, your daughter is going to get more and more resistant to playing the violin which will most likely result in the teacher losing a student.

Laura McDermott

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services