Lesson format for 5 yr old

Kathleen said: Oct 8, 2009
 Violin
2 posts

Hello all—my daughter (5) has been taking lessons for four months and her behaviour in lessons is getting increasingly uncooperative. She just started school in September (full days) so that is a big change and her teacher has been good about taking that into consideration. I have a lot of music experience (as a pianist) but no experience with Suzuki. I want to ensure my daughter is giving her teacher the respect and attention she deserves but a small part of me wonders whether the lesson structure could be adjusted a bit. I think my daughter is bored during the lesson and would like to play some games and do some more interactive things but I’m not sure if that is part of the Suzuki ‘way’. She is, I think, progressing quite quickly but I’m less concerned about how fast she goes than about developing a love of music and learning to play. Group lessons are supposed to be starting soon and I think that will make a difference to her motivation. When she sees her teacher with other students, I’m sure she will moderate her behaviour. As it is now, I leave the lessons quite mortified and during the last lesson, I had to tell her I would stop the lesson and take her home if she couldn’t behave in a respectful, cooperative manner. This was after a long discussion on the way there about what constitutes respectful behaviour and about how fortunate she is to have this teacher and this opportunity. Her preschool teachers and current school teacher have given her nothing but glowing reports for attitude so I know she is able to behave well with other teachers. Part of me wonders if it’s related to my presence and whether we should go the non-Suzuki route. I would be interested to know if others have had this experience and, if so, how they turned the corner on it.

Thanks for the great forum.

said: Oct 8, 2009
 89 posts

Kathleen—I’ve been in that folding chair feeling as frustrated as you sound!

You’re right that full day school makes some serious demands on a child’s physical and mental stamina in a way that people often don’t seem to realize. Still, it seems as if your D has had other positive one-on-one experiences with teachers in the past.

I’m a little concerned with your comment about wanting something “more interactive.” Can you give a specific example of what happens in a lesson and how your D reacts to it? Most Suzuki teachers I’ve run across have been big on games and interactivity; has your teacher had official Suzuki training?

Laura said: Oct 8, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

As far as I know, there is no proper Suzuki lesson format, per se. Ideally, the best format is the one that works best with that particular student. The younger they are, the more fun and games are generally required.

I have also been on this same road with our own child (and I am a trained Suzuki teacher!), and I have noticed it in my own students. It is actually not a surprise that a student who is otherwise well-behaved in school can start misbehaving in a 30minute private music lesson. The reasons are:

  1. In school, the environment is relatively lower pressure in the emotional sense. Even though the teacher is present the entire time, he or she is rarely fully engaged, one-on-one, with any one child for more than a few minutes at a time. For example, the kids can be sitting in a circle time and participating in the group, but their mind could be wandering, they could be looking elsewhere for seconds or minutes at a time, and they might only be asked a few direct questions. By contrast, in violin lessons, the teacher/student engagement is more direct and lasts as long as 30 minutes.

  2. In school, everyone does a “great job” no matter what. In violin lessons, the child is told specific ways to do something, and corrected for what they are not doing properly. Compared to pre-school, violin lessons have an extraordinarily large amount of direct instruction and correction. This can be a brand new emotional experience for many kids.

  3. In their toddler/preschool years, many children experience a wealth of educational experiences. However, these are often based on a lot of high-quality input (toys, books, videos, family outings, etc.). But in violin lessons, for the first time, they are being asked to learn how to produced high-quality output. In other words, they have to make a deliberate effort towards a judgeable result. This can also be highly frustrating as a new emotional experience. It would be the equivalent of asking a 5-year old who loves sharks to start taking lessons on how to draw and paint sharks in a realistic manner.

  4. Sadly, (and I assume this isn’t your situation, but it describes many!) many loveable kids who enjoy preschool (because it’s fun of course!) may still have never had sufficient experience at home being required to respond to direct instructions, being told “no”,”not this way”, etc. So the first time they get this in violin lesson and the entire lesson is dependent on their reaction to the teacher’s requests, it can be a challenging experience indeed!

Group class is generally lower-pressure than private lesson, and I’m sure you’ll notice a big difference in your daugther once group class starts.

Lynn said: Oct 12, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Purple_tulips—those are excellent points!

OP:
I would encourage you to talk with the teacher away from your daughter about your behavior standards and expectations, and to let her know what you are doing before the lesson to prepare your daughter for appropriate lesson behavior. That way, at least she knows that in spite of your efforts, your daughter is making her own decisions about how to conduct herself during lessons. ;-). It’s also possible that your teacher sees the behavior a bit differently. Regardless, a private conversation about behavior standards puts you and the teacher on the same page, and it lets the teacher know she has your backing when/if she needs to address behavior directly in the lesson.

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