How to deal with silliness…

Irene said: Oct 13, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

Can you teach the parent instead and let her watch? Maybe she can sit aside to watch her parent playing until she wants to play the violin too? Or switch to other activity like note reading for 5 minutes?

Sara said: Oct 13, 2010
 Violin
191 posts

Sometimes students act out if they feel overwhelmed by what they are expected to do. So simplifying might help.

Also, attention span has to be built. So young students lesson times need to be very short. A half hour is very often too much. Some of my 3-5 year old lessons only last 3-5 minutes in the beginning. They gradually get longer and their focus gets better. Switch up activities often.

By the way I found that rolling a ball back and forth really helps with focus. With young children I assign that as part of practice. They love it! There is an article on that in one of the Suzuki journals. I forget which one.

The parents MUST stay out of your lesson. They are the practice coach at home. I would absolutely insist that they make no comments whatsoever during the lesson. Call them before the lessons and tell them that you really appreciate their dedication to bringing their child to lessons and practicing with them at home And that you understand as a teacher that sometimes it’s hard as a parent to not be the one to jump in and correct their child. But lesson time is the time that no matter what happens they MUST be quiet and let you guide the lesson. Explain or remind them of the Suzuki triangle. Then after that YOU have to enforce it! They will test you on, forget, or not take you seriously. So you really have to be firm on this one.

You can’t really do anything about parenting styles. They will do what they want to on that one. There is only so much influence a violin teacher has on a core belief system. Sometimes though I have seen where parents are totally transformed through the process of Suzuki violin. (not over night though).

A book I would recommend they read is “Punished By Rewards” (Alfie Kohn, author?)
Have they read “Nurtured By Love”? That is required reading in my studio.

Best wishes to you ~

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

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Nov 10, 2010
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

I’ve had/have students like this. Really examine your own energy. I’ve found that I have to be very calm yet pleasant around these types of students if I want to get results. Talking very little during the lesson helps.

Also I’ve found that sometimes having the parents out view (but not out of hearing distance) during at least the review portion of the lesson helps a lot. Often times there’s a lot of emotional baggage coming from the at home practice sessions. The parents interact a certain way with their child and so the child expects similar treatment from you when everyone is in the same room together. Removing the parent from view makes you a separate adult figure.

If the parent is worried about missing something during the review part of the lesson I have them bring a video recorder.

Irene said: Nov 14, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

I’VE HAd this problem last saturday. when my 27 month old daughter found something difficult, she quit doing it and started jumping around in the room like a monkey. i asked teacher, if it is a good idea that i leave the room for a while, i left the room and my daughter followed instructions from the teacher accordingly. throughout the session was good, until the last 5 minutes, she finds that i have been away for too long, then started crying looking for me.
it might be a good idea if i let her walk into the room alone and only go in when she needs me?

Ruth Brons said: Nov 14, 2010
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

I remember Dr. Suzuki being quoted as saying that two adults and one two year old in the room is a bad situation.
There is just too much adult attention toward the little one,
and if the child feels a performance is expected then too often there is a great misguided performance rendered.
Alternating working with the parent, working with the child, and doing group activities
[like singing or clapping] is one way of diffusing the focus here.

Irene said: Nov 14, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

I do have a violin 4/4 that is not of good quality but playable. Would it be very intruding if I asked the teacher, if I could keep the violin at her place, and take out and play along during lesson time , when my daughter starts to act silly and jump around. I dont mind if other parents use that violin for the same trick in theier lessons. Then perhaps she sees mummy learning, she will wanna learn as well? Should I switch to 45 minutes lesson , instead of 30 minutes, so that when she starts to jump around and be silly, we just let her .. and so she has more time and pace to learn when she wants to learn? Seems every stage is a challenge.
How to have the highest image of your child, believing that they can do it and yet not have expectation?

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Nov 15, 2010
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

The length of lesson depends on the child. At 2, it sounds like your child has hit their attention span peak (which is totally normal). Acting up is usually a way to get the attention of the parent.

Work on attentiveness within the time frame of 30 minutes. If she can’t sit still for 30 minutes, making it 45 minutes will not make any difference. Children this age need constant change to maintain focus. During practice sessions, have her sit for one activity, stand for the next, walk around the room in a violin parade… etc.

Also, I find that it helps if you specify how many times you want to do something. Maybe roll a dice? Tell her you are going to do 5 var. A rhythm on the shoulder. And then that’s it. If she can focus through 5, bump it up to 6 or 7 the next week. Work with what your daughter can do and then expand from there.

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Nov 15, 2010
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

Oh, and I don’t think it would be intruding to ask for lesson from the teacher. With many of my beginning students, I work with them until their attention span is gone and then I spend the rest of the lesson working with the parent.

Irene said: Nov 15, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

there is an upcoming concert in march, i think teacher might be preparing her ‘baby group’ for a performance.
teacher seems to hold a higher image of my child than I myself do.. ..

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Nov 15, 2010
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

Well a big cornerstone of the Suzuki method is the belief that every child can play. Basically, that genetically coded talent should not dictate weather or not a human can enjoy and play music beautifully.

I’ve been playing the violin for over 20 years and I still don’t know everything there is to know about the instrument. At 2 years old, your daughter will not be able to just pick up the instrument and instantly play. The process of learning play the violin is a slow by gratifying one.

Also keep in mind that much of what young children learn from music has nothing to do with the playing of the instrument. Learning to quiet your body and focus is an acquired skill that she will gain from studying and instrument.

Jennifer Visick said: Nov 17, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Why don’t you just bring the 4/4 violin with you and take it home and practice on it? Is there a reason you’d need to leave it at the teacher’s studio?

Irene said: Nov 18, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

I commute to teacher’s place by train and with my toddler still need to be carried in a crowded place like Hong Kong, I have back pack carrying her violin, her diapers etc, I can’t carry the 4/4 violin to and fro for every lesson.

Marcie said: Dec 1, 2010
Marcie Brown
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Alameda, CA
4 posts

I just started a new game that seems to help with silliness and also with non-focusing kids. I have a cup of blue gems (doesn’t matter what they are—). My cup has 20 blue gems. I explain to the child at the beg of their lesson that when they complete a task, they get to put one blue gem into an empty jar that I have beside the blue gem cup. But—and here’s the good part- if they don’t do what I ask, or if they are silly instead of completing the task, then I take a blue gem away and it goes back into the cup. This seems to really work to get them to do what you would like them to do. The goal is to get as many blue gems into the jar as possible by the end of the lesson. They ask for this game the next time. Once in awhile a student will say—”what for?”, but usually, the kids just want to “earn” the blue gems because it is a challenge. Try it and let me know what you think.

Barb said: Dec 7, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks, Marcie, I love the gems idea!

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

Jeremy Chesman said: Dec 9, 2010
Jeremy Chesman
Suzuki Association Member
Organ, Recorder, Voice, Harp
Springfield, MO
24 posts

I’ve done something similar to the gems. I teach organ, and it can be hard at the beginning for students not to want to play with the different stops and pull out different sounds. I encourage that a little at the beginning to stimulate their curiosity. However, too often that becomes the focus rather than the actual keys! I started putting 5 pennies on top of the organ, and I told them they could take the pennies with them. If they wanted to pull out a stop, they would have to “buy” it by giving me a penny. When they reach for a stop, I just ask “so you want to spend a penny to but that stop,” and of course they don’t. I was afraid I would have to do this forever, but after a few lessons I just “forgot” to put the pennies up, and I wasn’t reminded.

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