Does it make sense to quit?

said: Sep 22, 2009
 6 posts

My ten-year-old daughter started the violin when she was three. We worked hard, practicing every day, till she was around eight. She progressed very quickly through Book 4. But she wasn’t enjoying anything about it. She hated practicing, lessons, and group. When she was eight, we switched to a more laid back teacher and shortened daily practices from an hour and a half to around half an hour. My daughter really likes this teacher and now goes to lessons without complaining. But she still says that she finds the lessons boring. She’s in an orchestra now and doesn’t like that either, and she still hates practicing. Practicing with her has always been a struggle—very draining for me. I haven’t seen any change in the last seven years. The only enjoyment she’s ever gotten out of the violin is a sense of accomplishment—that she’s managed to do something that she couldn’t do before or that she perceives herself as being more advanced than other students. I don’t see her enjoying the actual sounds she’s making. When I ask her, she says she doesn’t want to quit, but she doesn’t seem to be able to articulate why she wants to continue. I’m wondering if I should encourage her to quit. I’m just not seeing any point in this. I know that studying music has all kinds of benefits, but she must have gotten some of those already, and all the effort, time, and money that goes into this doesn’t seem worth it.

Sara said: Sep 23, 2009
 Violin
191 posts

There are many used to be players in the world that wish they would have stuck with it. If she is not asking to quit, let her keep it up. Sometimes it’s difficult for children to articulate all the why’s and wherefore’s of what they do or don’t want to do. If she says she doesn’t want to quit, don’t make an issue of it and let her go until she does say that she want to quit.
When and if she does quit make sure she has something to replace it with such as dance, art, another instrument, something that is equivalent in her talent development. Let her help make the choice of what it will be.
Also, when it comes quitting time make sure you don’t just up and quit. Give her and the teacher a fair warning and allow their to be a finish. Like the end of the year, end of school year, one last recital, etc. That way she learns a very important life skill in that you finish what you start and don’t just up and quit because you feel like it. You make a plan and notify those involved of the upcoming change. Doing this also allows for a self evaluation. I have had student tell me they are going to quit and we set a time and by the end of that time, they have thought it over and decided that they truly wanted to keep taking lessons.
As far as the teacher goes, it’s common courtesy to fill her/him in of your plans. It’s unfair to her/him to be preparing and making plans for the future of the student when unbeknown to her at the same time her student is making plans to quit.

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

said: Sep 27, 2009
 6 posts

Thanks. That’s helpful. She very much wants to do volunteer work, but she has to wait till she’s 12, so that might be a good stopping point, if she hasn’t changed her attitude toward playing the violin. We’ll definitely discuss is with the teacher in advance.

Sara said: Sep 28, 2009
 Violin
191 posts

If she wants to do volunteer work, why wait until she is 12? The violin is a great service to those in hospice or a rest home who are shut in and have very little contact with the outside world. They would LOVE to have a young violinist share her talent! The purpose for learning an instrument ultimately is not for a musicians sole enjoyment, but to be shared with others. Maybe that’s why it’s a bit dull for her right now because it sounds like she has a very giving heart and wants to help and inspire other people and right now the violin is self serving. Give her opportunities to share what she has! Even if she quits eventually in the mean time she will have made a big difference in the lives of lonely people.

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

said: Oct 5, 2009
 6 posts

Thank you for the great suggestion! I thought it wouldn’t work, because performing has been on the list of things she doesn’t like. But when I suggested it, she seemed interested, and then today, before her lesson, she reminded me to discuss it with her teacher! Her teacher was very enthusiastic about the idea. So thanks again. I really appreciate it.

said: Oct 5, 2009
 3 posts

quitting the violin is a very difficult subject. Now, if she understands that this decision will effect her life then so be it. is there any specific reason she has decided to quit?

said: Oct 6, 2009
 6 posts

ViolinMaster___

quitting the violin is a very difficult subject. Now, if she understands that this decision will effect her life then so be it. is there any specific reason she has decided to quit?

Just to clarify: She didn’t decide to quit. I’m the one who was getting tired of putting in so much effort for something she really didn’t seem to ever be getting any kind of enjoyment out of. I was wondering if I should encourage her to quit. Silverstar’s idea of performing in small recitals in nursing homes, etc. seems to have appealed to her, so I’m hoping it will stick.

said: Feb 13, 2010
 13 posts

When I was ten, I thought of violin lessons as practice for the future when I might actually sound like something. For a long time it did not occur to me that playing could be genuinely pleasurable in the present.
One evening the idea just clicked. It was not about trying to catch up with Mr. Nadien’s recording; it was about making music.
Oh.
I tried imitating my teacher’s effortless-looking playing and discovered that not only was it enjoyable to imitate professional grace, it produced a better sound.
Oh.

I am impressed with your hard work.
Your daughter is much more advanced than I was at that age, but I wonder if she could be experiencing something similar. Has it “clicked” to her that the playing itself is meant to be enjoyable?
Best wishes.

said: Feb 27, 2010
 4 posts

Hi there Natasha. I’ve read your post and I think the who is really struggling with a desire to quit is you, not your daughter. I was in your place last Fall. Sometimes us parents get burned out with the commitment to Suzuki and think its our kids who want to quit.

Last Fall, I had to really REALLY dig deep to keep up with our lessons and I am so glad we did. All I could think about was quitting and the time and money Suzuki was costing our family. I kept saying it was our son who hated to practice but it really was me hating to have to practice and maintain the high level of commitment it takes as a Suzuki parent. It seemed like I managed to seek out every person who would tell me that we should quit vs. asking a parent or teacher how I could get out of the emotional slump. Talk with your teacher and share your feelings…this is what I did and the teacher helped me dig out. I hope this helps!

You’ve been doing Suzuki a LONG time so you are obviously committed to the program but I think you yourself are a little worn out and understandably so. We forget as Suzuki parents that we need to nuture ourselves along with our kids in the Suzuki experience. I sometimes go back and reread Nutured by Love to get inspired again. And tell your teacher your feelings! They will appreciate it sooooooooooo much and help you.

Good luck!

Carey Rasmussen said: Apr 6, 2010
Carey Rasmussen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Hanahan, SC
4 posts

I hope I don’t get flogged for this but I, personally, think it is so important to offer different types/genres of music for students to play. I am a certified Suzuki teacher and love the method, grew up with it myself. However, I also play in a bluegrass group and love that! I now teach both kinds of music to my students. Perhaps learning some improvisation or fiddle tunes from a book would help excite her again. My students love this dual style teaching. Just a thought….I hope this helps.

said: May 9, 2010
 15 posts

I am a rather new Suzuki parent since we are in the second year. But, to be honest, our persistantly dawdling preschool-age child has made me go through many outbursts so much so that my husband wanted us to quit more than once. Our child has a very curious mind that is easily disrupted, too. Oh, to spend one hour just to have him practice 10 minutes!!!! I know I lack many skills I ought to have as a Suzuki parent… However, there have been several breakthroughs lately. Today, after rehearsal for the upcoming recital, my five year-old said to me, “It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed it!” That was a real gift to me on this Mother’s Day…

said: May 23, 2010
 6 posts

I appreciate everyone’s responses. I’ve been avoiding posting to this forum, because we seem to have found a good solution, but I’m worried about offending people. My daughter is continuing the violin, but has dropped the Suzuki method. Her teacher does both Suzuki and traditional, so she is with the same teacher. I think that the Suzuki method has brought music to many young people who otherwise would never have studied an instrument. It is also wonderful for ear training and all kinds of other things, as all of you know. However, no matter how good any method for anything is, I don’t think a certain method is always right for every person. Suzuki was probably the right thing for my daughter early on, but in some ways it didn’t work well for us. My approach to learning is very different from my daughter’s. I have always made ‘homework’ a top priority. I therefore always made sure that my daughter (even if she was kicking and screaming – sometimes literally) got the assignments done that the teacher gave us every week. This, combined with her excellent ear, caused her to get very advanced very quickly. But I don’t think she was ready for the levels she was reaching. More and more, her violin became my thing instead of hers. Her ‘zone out’ problem got really extreme. Whenever she played her violin (at lessons, practices, or recitals), she was either zoned out or very unhappy. In addition, I’m unfortunately very competitive by nature. This isn’t something I’m proud of at all. Even though Suzuki himself urged people not to be competitive, I think many parents, children, and teachers struggle with this, with the books and songs set up sequentially. I know I’m naturally competitive, but it seems that you’d have to be non-human not to be proud of your five-year-old in Book Three or to feel bad about your child playing for three years and still in Book One. Finally, my presence at lessons made both me and my daughter very tense.

Now that we’ve moved out of Suzuki, my daughter is finally starting to take ownership of her violin playing. One of the things musicians do is to choose which pieces they want to work on and to decide on how they want to interpret the pieces. My daughter now talks excitedly about these elements of her violin playing. I feel so liberated now. I still talk to her teacher after each lesson. My daughter practices in the living room and I’m often around for it and will make suggestions. She still sometimes gets angry and frustrated. But overall, I’ve seen a huge change. She’s actually asked if she can play in some recitals, she’s gotten a friend of hers to play a Beetle’s song with her in a school event, and she’s asked if she can go to a strings camp this summer.

If I could go back and do things over, I might have moved out of Suzuki earlier. But I do recognize all the benefits of the Suzuki method. I really hope this hasn’t offended anyone. As far as I know, it’s only the Suzuki method that has a forum like this one. Everyone is so nice and helpful. It was great to have a place like this to turn to. So I want to thank all of you.

said: May 23, 2010
 89 posts

Whether it’s the new teacher or the new approach, I’m happy to hear your daughter is enjoying making music again! :D

Jennifer Visick said: May 23, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

Natasha, going back to your original post—you said your daughter is now 10 and she started at 3. I think it’s very natural for a 10 year old to need to take ownership of their own music much more than the 3-year old. I suppose one of the things that can be a downfall of Suzuki teaching is that when we start with very involved parents who have pre-schoolers, we don’t always set up a path for easing the parent out of the process.

But the role of the parent in Suzuki parenting, like any other kind of parenting, should change as the children mature.

After 7 years of lessons, parents should not be as involved with directing/pushing practice sessions as they are at the beginning. For example—at age 10 I had been taking (Suzuki) lessons for 7 years and although my mom would still sit in on lessons and take notes, I was expected to practice on my own with her notes as a guide only. She would still sometimes yell from the kitchen while I was practicing in the next room: “that doesn’t sound right” when she thought I needed to do something over, and there were still occasional struggles about when and how long to practice, but the actual content of my practice sessions was under my direct control.

To me, this sounds very similar to what you describe is working for your family right now, except that I kept using mostly Suzuki repertoire (we always had the occasional “other” pieces mixed in), and so I never considered the gradual change of my mom’s involvement in my practice and lessons as “leaving” Suzuki.

I suppose the difference is that you’re not in the lesson, and probably are not using the repertoire at all. When those two things happened for me (in high school), my teacher “called” it leaving Suzuki but it wasn’t that big of a change from what I’d been doing before. And my mom still occasionally yelled from the next room “shouldn’t you do that bit over again…” :roll:

I guess you can’t get rid of THAT until you leave the house!

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