Helping my almost 8 year old with violin


Aparna Asthana said: Dec 15, 2008
13 posts

Hi I am so glad I found this forum and I am hoping for some clarification. My son is almost 8 and we started violin at the local suzuki institute when he was 5.5 so this will be our 3rd year with violin. He is currently beginning work on Minuet 1. My son has some motor challenges (fine motor) and attentional issues…he has had therapy for both and violin was initially started as an extention of therapy. He has really done well with violin in some areas…he has an extremely strong ear and teaches himself most of the pieces by ear. Notes and intonation are not an issue for him…we lost the tapes on the fingerboard soon after Allegretto a couple of months back. His issues are bow hold and a very squeezing left hand. His bow hand has improved a lot since we started…left hand is also better but still troubling. Our progress has been slowed bc of this bc our teacher is very insistent to get the basics right. My son was with a teacher the first year who did the twinkles but we had to repeat the twibkles with the new current teacher bc he said his bow hand was not right….this led to about an extra 6 months. Anyway we are making progress finally and I am happy but my son seems frustrated and getting him to practice well has been an issue. Bc of some of his attentional and focus issues it is harder to get him to practice consistently but then this slows progress and in turn makes him feel he will never get to the end of book 1. Our teacher is a male and he is very good…however he does not care abotu goals like getting to the end of book 1. We seem to meander all over the place for a month at a time. I have another younger child in suzuki piano and there the methodology is very linear and consistent in terms of pieces learnt and expectations and child;s goals with practice. This child who is 5 is making faster progress bc of this. I do not get this with the violin teacher.

I would like to see my son finish book 1 as a soft goal in a reasonable length of time but our teacher does not beleive in this as a goal to work towards. What do you think? From Minuet 1 onwards how long does the very average student take to finish out the book? I am looking for some rough ideas so I have something to work towards. I don’t do well as a parent with no goals in sight!

Also I feel like my son is losing his motivation and interest in the violin recently as evidenced in practice reluctunce and sloppy practicing. Does this happen with some kids? How do you counter this and do you keep them going?

Thanks so much!

Laurel said: Dec 15, 2008
Laurel MacCulloch
Suzuki Association Member
Langley, BC
120 posts


I don’t do well as a parent with no goals in sight!

Also I feel like my son is losing his motivation and interest in the violin recently as evidenced in practice reluctunce and sloppy practicing. Does this happen with some kids? How do you counter this and do you keep them going?

Thanks so much!

Hi, and welcome!

I’m both a Suzuki Violin teacher and a Suzuki violin parent.

The short answer is, the first sentence I quoted above is something you should certainly bring up with your child’s teacher! I regard the parent as an integral part of the Suzuki triangle, and if they have a challenge like the one you have—no goals—I would take it into account.

With regard to the second paragraph: have you tried any kind of reward system? For example, my two boys (7 and 5) were constantly asking for these certain Lego toys and somehow “Christmas is coming” wasn’t cutting it. Plus, we had a family birthday to go to but my boys are by far the youngest—so we generally need to bring something to keep them occupied. So—I made up a practise chart for somethign like 3 weeks, divided into X number of tasks per day (the pre-Twinkler needed to do 2 things, the early Book 2 student 6 things) to earn these toys. It motivated them, they are learning the idea of earning special things for themselves, they had a clear idea of how practise would go, and Bonus! they got a new thing to keep occupied during the Adults Talking On And On section of the birthday!

And the most important part of this was, it was a motivation that kept away from the next song or finishing the book. I must say I have the most trouble with parents who are looking mostly/only toward finishing book X or starting book Y. Each song in each book has its own practise point(s), and if the earlier ones haven’t been mastered it can interfere with the learning of the later ones.

Another idea: can your son pick out other, non-Suzuki songs that he hears? That would give him a broader repertoire without pushing too far ahead.

And as a teacher—knowing when to hold a student back a bit and when to move them ahead is a very difficult task! I’ve learned to take into account where a child is developmentally; if they are just not ready to do something (like keep their pinky on the bow stick) it’s not necessarily a reason to hold them back from the next song or the next book. The tricky bit is determining if, for example, a squeezy left hand is something they’re not ready to refine, or has become a bad habit.

So, talk it over with your child’s teacher. You both may be able to come up with a compromise. Good luck!


Linda said: Feb 25, 2009
 2 posts

Dear Parent,
I am a working mom with a daugther who is now 5 1/2 years old. She started learning the violin using Suzuki method at 3.5 years old and was under a suzuki class for 1 .5 years . Her teacher was a qualified Suzuki teacher. Her bow hold was good and she played with a very straight bow with a ringing tone until she changed her violin teacher when the group class was dismantled. Her standard dropped for the 4 months under her previous new teacher. Strangely, despite having bad bow hold, she progressed to Book 2. Like yours, her practice session was long but insubstantive because of intermission breaks. She is now under a different violin teacher and has individual lesson. Under this new teacher, she has started to learn using a combination of suzuki method and classical method. The first thing her teacher commented was that her bow hold was not good. We reverted back to basics, revised old pieces from Book 1 and the new teacher absolutely disagreed to her picking up new pieces from book 2. However, her good bow hold is now reinforced, she has reverted to her ringing tone with straight bow. She plays every piece in book 1 with dynamics and with perfect timing. In addition to these, she has confidence! She has stamina for longer practice session now and is desirous in playing well. Don’t be anxious to rush your child to progress to higher level because of his age. If the basics are not right, even if your child plays any advance pieces, your child will not sound well. Her new teacher once told me, you can put 2 children together. If a child of 5 or 4 has good bow hold and plays say, perpectual motion and another child who is 10 who did not have good fundamental skill plays the same piece, the younger child stands out with better ringing tone. I suscribe to and believe that this saying is absolutely right. I hope you understand the benefit of long term effect as opposed to the short term “brisk” learning. At the same, it will be fatal to compare your child with another suzuki kid. All children are born different. Even the most talented child has to undergo good training for techniques. I am certain prodigy like Sarah Chang likewise had undergone strict and vigilant training and correction. Some kids pick up over a fortnight despite having fumbled for a long time before whereas some may have started doing very well and fallen backwards. The truth is not about pushing them to do advance pieces but building their interests and stamina and confidence. As for the long practice session, my daugther was like this for many months but this has now come to a stop because she is back to learning good bow hold and like I said, if your child can feel that he plays well, he has motivation to move forward. This naturally progresses to lesser practice interruption.

Angela Speed said: Mar 15, 2009
 1 posts

I am just starting up a blog to share ideas on how to help students practice. I am not perfect—every practice isn’t perfect. But I have some ideas, and I have accumulated ideas from other Suzuki moms. Check it out!

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