go without a group lesson for a year?

said: Oct 4, 2010
 15 posts

The Suzuki group lesson (Book 2) instructor my son has this school year is quite underqualified. (She has learned violin from her violin teacher mother, and has no formal training of any kind in violin or in teaching.) She often doesn’t remember whether to start a piece upbow or downbow, and asks parents if she could borrow a textbook. There’s no laughter, excitement, or joy in this 75-minute class where all students are between K—3rd grade. She would ask a student to play a difficult part of a piece solo, and doesn’t giver her any feedback afterwards. She has said out loud before that she’s run out to things to do during the class. No games or creative interactions. Having said that, this is the only group lesson available. This music school has many well-reputed instructors, but she’s been assigned to teach this group lessons for the last two years. The schedule and stuffing are fixed for the entire school year and I don’t know of any other places close enogh that offer any group lesson. What shall I do? No group lesson for a year is better than having a lesson under a underqualified and unexcited teacher who seems to be just there to earn extra money? If I were to withdraw my son, is there any activities at home you recommend to help substitute the group lesson experience? (I can play violin though less proficiently than he is.) Or would you say it would be still good for my son’s character development to put up with one hour of a dull class a week? Any other comments?

Thank you.

Sara said: Oct 4, 2010
191 posts

Is your son in a local school orchestra? If so, I would think that would be a better substitution for what you are describing.

If no school orchestra is available, has your son made some violin friends? Could you arrange “violin parties” at your home and invite some of his friends just to play together. Perhaps you could sort of oversee it/lead it in a very simple, non-threatening fun way. Hey guys let’s play _________ with our best bow hands. Name that tune. Maybe gather some of his musician friends and visit a rest home together. I realize this isn’t really fulfilling the learning part of group, but it may fulfill the motivational part of group.

I would also talk to the teacher (I know it sounds unpleasant to approach the topic) but sometimes it’s best to hear the truth from someone. It could spur her on to investigating herself and she might reach out to improve herself. Either way, I think it would be fair to her to be told.

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

Barb said: Oct 5, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

That is sad. Perhaps you could also approach the school about the need for her to have more training. Perhaps they could facilitate this. It HAS to be fun for kids this age.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Danielle Kravitz said: Nov 13, 2010
Danielle KravitzInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Violin
64 posts

If you have no problem motivating your son to play the violin in his daily practice, I see no harm in not having group for a year given your circumstances.

The point of a Suzuki group class is to keep kids interested (since they are with their friends) and to create a positive environment that allows for peer correction to occur. From what you described, his current class is failing on both points.

Definitely talk to the teacher. Be very nice and non-confrontational about it. “Hey I’ve just noticed that in class….” If you want to see any sort of change, having her put up her guard will not help. If she is completely non-receptive, then talk to her superior.

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