Quick! I need a consequence!….

Laurel said: Feb 5, 2010
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

…. for a student who doesn’t want to be in group class, or in fact play violin at all.

He does oppositional things when given instructions, or even choices. Lots of attention-getting behaviour. It’s all stuff he knows how to do, without being too easy for him. He’s 5 or 6 and in early Book 1.

Mom is usually in little brother’s private lesson at the time; but even when she was with him she had the 2 younger siblings and just wasn’t very effective.

Can’t think of a consequence for misbehaviour! Can’t really make him sit out, because that’s what he wants in the first place. What can we do?


Sarah Coley said: Feb 5, 2010
Sarah Coley
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
34 posts


Perhaps what you should consider trying something the opposite of a consequence. For most students the consequence thing works, but it sounds like a consequence of any sort for this student might be exactly what he wants. Focusing on his bad behavior gives this student the negative attention he is striving for, and makes you out to be the “bad teacher.”

I personally prefer doing things in group that focus on reinforcing the good behavior, which makes wanting to do the opposite behavior less than desirable. In group lessons past I have sometimes used pieces of candy as incentives. I explain what we are going to focus working on, and make sure to stress that only those who follow directions (or play with a good bow hold, strong tone, whole bows, etc.) will be able to choose a piece of candy. Shockingly enough, it seems that sometimes the lure of a piece of candy “goads” the students into actually focusing on fixing what needs to be fixed (and it works better than any threats, hints of punishment, etc. that could be dreamt up.) It also motivates the student to keep pace with his/her peers, because they do not want to be the one lonely student without candy at the end of the group lesson. I do not use this idea all of the time, but it sure beats being “nasty” about things and easily keeps me from getting frustrated when I know my students should be doing better than they are. :)

said: Feb 6, 2010
 89 posts

Is there any way little brother’s teacher can switch his lesson time with someone else so that Mom can be in the group class?

Maybe it’s Mom who needs the consequence. Perhaps the school could politely insist that she bring along a mother’s helper on lesson days (there might even be an older student on site eager to earn a little extra cash). Or the older student could become Reluctant Student’s practice partner/group class coach—an older boy he admires would be ideal for this role.

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 6, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

an older boy he admires would be ideal for this role.

Our Suzuki program here sometimes has older students work as mentors or teaching assistants in the beginning classes. Right now there is a boy (about book 4 level) who is assisting in our Pre-Twinkle class.

Both the normal teacher and the accompanist in that class are women—so I don’t know if this has to do with the fact that the student mentor is a boy or with the fact that he’s younger than the teachers while still being older than the pre-twinkle kids -

In any case the Pre-Twinkle teacher noticed that wherever the mentor is standing, there are two little boys in that class whose eyes are always glued on him, following his example.

this may not work with a kid who’s already decided to act contrary to the rest of the class, but it might be worth a try if you have an older student who is interested in working with younger kids.

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