Selecting lesson between cello vs violin or other instrument

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said: Dec 14, 2007
 8 posts

How does one go about trying to determine if a child has a more genuine interest toward violin vs cello, therefore help to motivate the child’s willingness to learn? Or, is it appropriate for the adult to just put an instrument, be that violin, cello, or piano, etc., into a child’s hands in the beginning and hope for the best that he/she would grow to love the instrument. And, if not, pray that one day the child would meet or hear an instrument and perhaps experiences that love-at-the-first-sight phenomenon?

I guess what I am concerning is that if there it’s possible that somehow the child and a particular instrument is do not click despite the best effort/intention by the teacher and the parents.


“Amateur parent seeking professional parenting advice.” :)

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 15, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

let the student hear and see each one? Ask if they have a preference?

A time-honored Suzuki tradition is explained in several Suzuki publications, and it goes like this: If the student is young enough, they will want to play what their parent plays. Take lessons as a parent, choose the instrument you will want to hear and work on every day, let your genuine interest in it be visible, and practice for yourself. Then, instead of “placing” the instrument in the hands of your child, you end up “keeping” the instrument from the child (while allowing them to see it and the amount of practicing required to play it in the home). When the child asks if they can play, the parent should say something to the effect of “Well, at my next lesson, we will ask the teacher if you can take lessons too”. (Build suspense, at the same time letting the teacher’s authority about what and when to play be acknowledged). The young child then begins to take 2 or 3 or 5 minutes of the parent’s lesson, and takes more and more time as months go by and assignments (and attention span and endurance) get longer. Eventually the parent is phased out of the lesson and only takes notes.

You do this and then, when the student is older, I’ve seen a very successful process of parents allowing their children to pick a different instrument if they want to (say, between 4th—9th grade). The early music education does not go to waste, and the early motor control transfers only slightly less smoothly than the early musicianship.

said: Jan 9, 2008
 8 posts

Thanks! I was originally planning to try this time-honored Suzuki tradition way and to build the suspense and curiosity. Then, one day when he was two, I came home and saw grandma put a 1/32 violin into his hands and that pretty much threw the plan out of the window. Ever since then, I have been trying to determine how serious he is or just treating the instrument as one big toy.

“Amateur parent seeking professional parenting advice.” :)

Lynn said: Jan 10, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Some young children express a clear interest; other times they don’t, or, parents choose based on what instrument is available (teacher-wise), what teacher or program is the best fit for their child (and then learn whichever instrument that teacher teaches), or what instrument the parent is interested in. Even if a child does eventually decide to switch instruments (cello, guitar, trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet…I’ve seen it all!) the ONLY part of their training that doesn’t carry over is instrument-specific technique—unless they switch between violin and viola. Meanwhile, the listening and practice skills and techniques, the musical knowledge, sensitivity and awareness, and the ability to set goals, work to standards, assess outcomes, persevere, solve problems, manage frustration, work cooperatively etc. etc. all that applies to the new instrument too. The student who switches has all that s/he has gained in those areas to apply to their new instrument, so they are a much more advanced music student at the outset, and a beginner only in terms of their technique.

Sometimes children and instruments don’t “click”. I have encountered on more than one occasion children with very sensitive ears who could not tolerate a violin E string. Too high, too intense, and too close. They can’t articulate that; it usually manifests as non-cooperation, and an unwillingness to play, and parents also noting that their children are sensitive to loud sounds. The solution: changing to piano or cello, where the sounds are lower, or “rounder” and further away from their ears.

Rather than have as your objective instilling a love of a particular instrument, make it your goal to instill a love of music, and use whatever instrument or teacher is available/accessible/affordable/currently interesting to develop your child’s ability to learn to play music. That instrument will take hold, or later on, they might fall in love with another. Either way, by starting your child’s music education early, you are setting the stage for him to have music, music making, and all the satisfaction and benefits, part of his life. How cool is that? :)

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