Sensory integration issues and violin playing


Aparna Asthana said: Aug 27, 2009
13 posts

Hi I have a boy who is 8 and ending book 1 violin. He has a strong ear and can pick up the pieces easily and remember notes etc and plays with nice tone. However he has sensory issues…mostly to do with being clumsy, body in space and a general lack of awareness with his body and using his body well. He is not physically very adept but seems to NOT have a problem crossing the midline to play violin and coordinate bowing with fingers. Playing the violin is not hard for him (tying shoe laces is hard on the other hand) but some techniques are hard….if his left hand is relaxed and nice, his bow hold deteriotrates etc etc….

Our issues are that he is still struggling to make a good bow hand without help or reminders and fights us on the technical aspects of playing violin that his teacher wants him to work on. His bow hand is not bad…its just not perfect and in combination with the posture issues and a somewhat squeezing left hand they all add up to a lot of nagging in class and at home. I was wondering if anyone has experienced this with thieir kids in the early years?…Anyone have kids with sensory issues learning violin and how do you teach them?…..the teacher has slowed down his progress so much bc of this but I am afraid my son is losing patience and lessons and practice are no longer fun.

Lynn said: Aug 28, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

ohhhh, yes.
Just as with everything else, kids do come equipped with varying degrees of physical awareness—and auditory awareness, and pitch awareness, and, and, and. Unless there is something extreme or unusual about your son, it sounds from your post that you have a normal kid who more facile in one domain than in another.

This response is short and quick (sorry—no time!) but, as a general principle wherever the “blind spot” with my students, I am first interested in 1. What they are aware of with regards to the target question 2. how do they know about what X is doing. If they have no idea, then we experiment with different ways of knowing, and different ways of monitoring. Basically you are trying to enter their world/reality. Also a VERY good idea to find out what they think of their playing, and what they want to work on, rather than always bugging them about what’s coming up short, or telling them what their work has to be. Work is much more effective when the student shares the agenda.

At the same time that your are exploring levels of awareness, allow uneven development. Skills that are developing more slowly will catch up, and quite quickly, once the needed awareness comes on line.

More later….

Aparna Asthana said: Aug 28, 2009
13 posts

Thanks so much! Would love to hear more. I was at an institute over the summer with my son and one teacher worked so well with him on his left hand and really helped him. She seemed to have an innate ability to understand his weaknesses with sensory issues and his lack of awareness in “feeling” the right way his bow hand needed to shape and work with him. His current teacher is wonderful but does not have the patience or experience perhaps to work with children who learn a bit differently.

Diane said: Sep 1, 2009
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

I would highly recommend Brain Gym. Simple movements that stimulate and coordinate brain function. Look at the Brain Gym website and you’ll find a list of certified people in your area. Good Luck!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Ruth Brons said: Sep 6, 2009
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
West Orange, NJ
150 posts

The bow hold IS tricky for many students, especially when their attention is demanded for other tasks.
Finally, there is a solution to this frustrating problem!
Check out the brand new, patent-pending Things 4 Strings[tm] bow accessories now available to violin, viola and cello students at

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] and
CelloPhant[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessories

Eve Weiss said: Sep 16, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
16 posts

This item has come up before; here is a link from over in the teacher’s forum…

This topic is locked. No new comments can be posted.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services