Reactions to starting a child young

said: Aug 9, 2006
 9 posts

Do any of you have quick responses to those who hear that you have started your young child with music lessons (say, age 3-5) and express disapproval? I am anticipating this… perhaps it won’t happen.

said: Aug 9, 2006
 26 posts

I regularly have parents in my studio come across ‘attitudes’ from friends and even family members before they begin violin. (Most of my beginners are under 3.)

Most parents find that if those expressing disapproval are close friends or family, lending a copy of ‘Ability Development from Age Zero’ by Dr Suzuki (a bit more readable than ‘Nurtured by Love’) really helps. Most disapproving attitudes come from ignorance. Sometimes people think the lessons and learning process will be like their music lessons were as a child, and they can’t possibly imagine a 3 year old playing scales for 45 minutes! Others think that starting young is somehow ‘pushing’, and that the child is likely to be subjected to unfair expectations. Understanding the Suzuki philosophy is a great first step for these people.

Passing comments by others (eg another parent at your child’s school) are a lot harder to deal with. These comments can be quite spiteful, perhaps jealous and if you talk enthusiastically about the Suzuki approach, these parents can think you are implying they are a bad parent for NOT doing music with their child!

Parents will always be judgemental about each others’ decicions. If someone you know did 21 hours of gymnastics each week with their 7 year old, you’d probably have thoughts about that! If someone fed their children take away food every night of the week, you’d have an opinion there as well. Some people think music lessons for young children are just as ‘extreme’.

Surround yourself with other Suzuki parents (who have the same beliefs as you do) and build a support network within the Suzuki community which will help you feel better about these comments (if they ever do happen!)

Good luck! I’ll be interested to hear others’ comments on this, particularly in response to your actual question—any clever quick responses?

Laura said: Aug 9, 2006
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

In addition to being a Suzuki teacher, I will soon become a Suzuki parent, so I’ve been dealing with this quite a bit!

I often just mention that music is another language, and that any language is best learned when started early. With regards to the “image” of the little ones slaving away at their lessons and practices, I simply mention that everything is brought down to their level in a way that they can relate to and enjoy.

It’s like establishing any good habit, like eating or getting dressed every day. The road may start off a little bumpy, but smooths out sooner than we think, and the benefits are quickly realized.

Good luck! I can certainly identify with your question. :roll:

said: Aug 10, 2006
 104 posts

Sometimes I wish I had a snarky one-liner, but I find it better (for me) to simply respond, “It’s fun and they love it.” Since my children are also homeschooled, I could find myself in the position of defending so many of my parenting practices to complete strangers if I allowed myself to respond to every passing comment. Quite honestly, the VAST majoriyy of people (from strangers to distant family and acquaintances to close family and friends) are mostly delighted with the music my children create. It speaks for itself. If this is your first child and you don’t feel like explaining the whole Suzuki concept to someone who asks, you can just say that your child is in a music and movement class (completely true if you’ve ever seen a little one in a Suzuki class!) and if you have older children, it’s easy to say that the little one just wanted to follow in the older one’s footsteps. Good luck!

Christine said: Aug 25, 2006
 3 posts

I’m starting my sixth year of study with my 3 three children, and I’ve gotten my share of negative reactions. I find family reactions tend to lean toward thinking it’s strange or cruel to make child study music; my parent peers’ reactions tend to be out of jealously and comparing their kids to mine. I’ve even be accused of starting my kids in music so that I can get a leg up on college scholarships.

You are right that ignorance is at the root in both cases. I find that now that my kids are advancing and people hear them, they appreciate the process more. Family and friends were not so supportive when my kids were scratching away at Twinkle. It’s a shame. It has made me feel isolated at times, but it has made me stronger and made me reaffirm why we do this and how beneficial it is for everyone involved. Among so many other things, my children are learning to be independent thinkers and that having different interests than other kids is ok.

Betsy said: May 22, 2007
 3 posts

if your child loves what they are doing, who cares what other people think?
i think people who have negative reactions assume you are forcing your child to do music.
my son begged to play flute at 4 and has enjoyed it ever since (he’s now 10) he has a clear understanding of what he wants from his music and what he is willing to do to enjoy it.
my children are also elite athletes and one actually has spent 20 hours a week doing gymnastics at the height of his competitive career. again, if the child loves it, our job as parents is to facilitate and care for their passion.

said: Oct 14, 2008
 2 posts

We’re both musicians and oddly enough the only negative reaction to starting my daughter at just under 3 last year was from her Suzuki class teacher! I was shocked! She did not want the hassle of dealing with such a young child and feared that my husband and I were pushing too hard for performance. In reality I had studied brain development and music and just wanted early exposure.

We had a tough year with teacher attitudes all year then this year when I re-enrolled my daughter in Pre-twinkle (she wasn’t ready for the next class, as I had expected) the teacher has had a complete about-face and tells me all the time how much she loves having my daughter in her class! As soon as she discovered that I wasn’t trying to push my daughter to be a genius player she totally changed her tune. So I guess even if there are negative reactions from unexpected places, just do what you feel is right for your family and don’t worry about it.

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