Should we continue lessons?

said: Sep 6, 2008
 3 posts

My 7 year-old says he wants to continue cello lessons, but he doesn’t seem to have fun practicing or at the lessons themselves—he only seems to enjoy experimenting on his own. Any ideas? Should I continue the lessons?

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 6, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts


The “not fun” stuff in lessons and practice time will help the experimentation to become better—and more fun -, and who knows? you might have a composer on your hands.

Lessons and practicing—they are rarely “fun” in the same way that, say, going to Disneyland or seeing a movie or hanging out with friends or playing a video game or whatnot is considered “fun”. They require concentration and hard work. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t contribute to having fun later on.

The parallels between learning to speak and learning to play music are often highlighted in the Suzuki way of teaching. When you think of a child learning to speak or learning a new word, there is a period of concentration—not ‘fun’, but needed—and then there are periods of ‘fun’—making weird sounds, babbling, etc., and the excitement of communication and stringing words together to form sentences that mean something.

If a person has both periods of concentration (hard work) and periods of experimentation (”fun”) on their instrument, that’s good. If there is also social reinforcement—if the periods of concentration lead to being able to play, say, duets with the teacher or with friends, or join in on more songs at the group class, or playing a mini-recital for someone who’s delighted to hear it, then eventually the motivation will outlast the “not fun” periods of hard work.

In any case, if your son says he wants to continue, and there are no other reasons not to, then I would say that the appearance of not enjoying practicing isn’t a good reason to stop.

You might want to check out the book “Raising Musical Kids” by Robert Cutietta. There is a chapter on practicing and motivation which is very good.

said: Sep 7, 2008
 3 posts

Thanks for your advice! I felt like I was dragging him to lessons for a while, and nagging him to practice, which is not something I wanted to do. Yesterday, however, we had a talk, and we tried some new ways of practicing together and had a great time.

Connie Sunday said: Sep 20, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts


You might want to check out the book “Raising Musical Kids” by Robert Cutietta. There is a chapter on practicing and motivation which is very good.

RaineJen, thank you for recommending this book; I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived yesterday. It’s just wonderful.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

said: Oct 27, 2008
 63 posts

I have a seven-year-old student who also loves to play but is not motivated at all to improve her pieces. For her, and for myself, I picked up a book by Alice Kay Kanack, who was endorsed by Suzuki himself. She has written a series of creative/improvisational books that I would highly recommend, despite just picking it up myself last week!

There is one specifically written for cello, and I think a general one in the series. Here is the online blurb:

In a speech at the 1984 Matsumoto Summer Conference, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki nicknamed Alice Kanack “Mozart’s mother” in response to her innovative work in the development of the creative part of the brain. He added to this his hope that as a result, someday all children might create their own music. After twelve years of research and testing, the Fun Improvisation for… series was developed. Each book contains philosophical and practical advice on how to use the 28 musical exercises to develop a child’s innate creative ability to its highest level. The basic instructions allow even a twinkler to use these exercises, while the advanced instructions provide a challenge to the most advanced player.

Here is a link to an online music store to have a better look:

Practicing and making it fun is the most rewarding and challenging lesson for parents, teachers and students and is the continuous discussion you should have with your teacher. Best wishes!

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