Should I call it quits?

said: Oct 14, 2010
 2 posts

My daughter started violin a little after she turned 4.
She has an excellent and patient and polite teacher..She is so politically correct that I dont have a true idea how my daughter is doing,..I started violin as an enrichment and not because she was begging for it..She does not mind the violin just because we started when she was young and it is more like a habit..she does resent practice at times and I dont push her too much..So we would have done practice with 50 % devotion in the past 1.5 years,,

I think she is still a pre twinkler (not sure) she is currently learning these variation-aef#e,(123 roll ) 321a..e(123 roll )321 etc etc..she calls this a sandwich…She plays just OK..Has a harsh hold so it doesnt sound musical..

Also recently teacher switched time to 7pm in the night which is not a good time for my daughter..Evn if you disregard this…in all honesty,is it worth it to continue..? Doesnt it show clear lack of talent..? Also on a few years I can just expect her to read some lifeless notes from the book and regurgitate it out?? I truly dont understnd why people recomend to start young..Violin is so hard on little fingers…If I younger son ever learns violin I will wait until he turns 7..

Also if I ask my daughter,she will never say I dont want to learn it or let me stop this class, because she is generally a sweet kid and probably does not remember a time when she was not learning this..clearly she doesnt beg to practice..The only advtge is I have learnt to play those notes nicely..:))

LOoking for any inputs..please..

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 15, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I remember going to a parent seminar and watching Ed Sprunger answer the question “should we quit?”. I liked his answer, which was that if the parent has been wanting to quit for at least 6 months, and the child has been wanting to quit for at least 6 months, and the teacher has been secretly wishing they would quit for 6 months, then it’s time to quit. Otherwise, this is a long-term project you signed up for—don’t expect to be done in 3 years. Dr. Suzuki’s idea was that any child could learn to play the violin well in a good quality ten-year education program.

The entire Suzuki philosophy—and the reason we encourage starting early—is because we believe that all talents are taught, modeled, and practiced from birth. The 7 year old who has “musical talent” really has only had 7 years of music education. Every child begins learning at birth and never stops.

Your situation is not all that terribly uncommon, especially for the amount of practice time that it sounds like you’re putting in. At the younger ages, it is really up to you (the parent) to set a daily practice routine, because you are the adult, and you have the capacity to understand delayed gratification—and you want to teach this to your daughter.

Having said that, there are a few basic questions you can ask yourself to find out if you’re truly creating an environment that’s allowing your daughter to learn at her own pace:

  1. Do you have a good quality instrument, so that it is possible for your daughter to make a pleasant tone, (even if she doesn’t do it yet)? If yes, are you (and the teacher) consistently ASKING your daughter to practice a good tone quality? Ask if she hears the difference. Ask her to experiment with making different kinds of tone quality. See what SHE likes to hear!

No matter what kind of education she gets, no one can learn to make beautiful music on an instrument on which it is impossible to make a beautiful sound.

  1. Do you listen to the music played by professional artists daily and often each day, so that she knows what playing something musically CAN sound like?

No matter what kind of instrument she has, no one can aim to make a sound that they’ve never heard or imagined. How can they imagine it without inspiration?

  1. Do you attend a group class, or private lessons, or both? Does she (and you) have an opportunity to see other young children learning, and do you have a chance to speak with the parents of these children?

No matter the instrument, no matter how you listen to recordings, no matter how good your teacher, there is no substitute for friendships with your musical “peers”. Music is a social art, not a thing to hide in the practice room or teaching studio. Sharing music with other students (and hearing their music) creates an environment where mutual learning, motivation, and the blossoming of talent is possible. Music is meant to be shared. If there is no sharing, what purpose can there be in practicing?

  1. Have you (the parent and home practice coach) learned to play the basic “Twinkle Sandwich” yourself so that you can:
    1. demonstrate it (and good practice habits) at home, and
    2. appreciate the difficulty involved and
    3. appreciate the rewards that it brings so that
    4. you have a good reason for encouraging your daughter to persevere in the face of difficulty?

No matter how good the instrument, or the teacher, or the recording, or the peer pressure, there is no substitute for a personal “practice coach” for a very young child, someone she trusts and loves and who can help her face the inevitable challenges that come with learning to play any musical instrument or master any physical skill—she needs someone who does not expect her to move too fast, but does expect her to reach the goal and overcome the challenge in the end! She needs someone who believes she can learn, even if she’s not good at it yet.

  1. Have you had a parent teacher conference without your daughter so that you can discuss this issue with the teacher?

If you are working towards the same goals as the teacher, you will be much less uncertain about what your daughter’s “progress” is.

  1. Have you read “Nurtured by Love”? Suzuki lessons don’t work if you (the home practice coach) don’t know and understand the Suzuki philosophy.

  2. Keep in mind that “Twinkle” is the first Suzuki song, but there are a thousand other things that need to be learned before any song is played well. Let your daughter learn these motor skills at a young age, when she is learning all her other motor skills, at the age when she won’t get bored with the repetitions as easily as an older student will.

GOOD LUCK! I sincerely hope that you do not quit musical studies with your daughter.

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 15, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

P.S. My mother started me learning the violin at age 3 and a half and she tells me now that she thought starting that early was a little crazy.

But I love it. I don’t ever remember NOT being able to play, and that’s a good thing to me. My mom, however, can tell you lots of stories about struggling to get me to practice sometimes, about not-so-good sounds, about not moving through the music or learning new music very fast (or, at times, hardly at all)—but it was worth it.

I’m a music teacher now, and I can tell you this: Every time some random adult happens to find out what I do, I hear one of the following three sentences. I kid you not—if I had a nickel every time I heard these sentences, I’d be on the cover of Fortune…

  1. I used to take music lessons, but then I quit. I WISH MY PARENTS HAD NEVER LET ME QUIT.

  2. My parents made me take music lessons all when I was growing up, and I hated it, but now I’M GLAD THEY MADE ME DO IT.

  3. I WISH MY PARENTS HAD MADE ME TAKE MUSIC LESSONS.

said: Oct 15, 2010
 2 posts

I WISH MY PARENTS HAD MADE ME TAKE MUSIC LESSONS.

that was me…

The reason we are not perfect abt practice is I work 7.30 to 5.30 4 days a week and has 1 year old..so it is difficult to be cool /calm after a hard days work with an active baby in the back ground…

Thanks for your input!

I will add more comments after I get out of work!

Irene said: Nov 25, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

we have violin lesson tomorrow and for the first time, i dread going to lesson. i am afraid the disaster will happen again tomorrow, daughter put the violin down, starts jumping like a monkey and cry when i try to leave the room.
she is 27 months old now, she was so well behaved in the first 2 months, why the .. silliness now?
at home practise, she put the violin as if holding a guitar, then i use that way to teach pizzicato, i dont think teacher will be pleased to see that tomorrow..:(

Celia Jones said: Nov 30, 2010
 Violin
72 posts

What’s wrong with holding violin like a guitar and learning pizz like that? That’s how I learnt violin from the start. It’s fine. You can learn left-hand pizz like that too, then move violin up onto shoulder. It’s good.

Why misbehaviour? well your daughter is very very young. Her brain is still developing a lot. At the earlier age they don’t have a concept of mischief. As they get to 2 1/2 they get more independent, and also they get various different emotions that they never had before. It’s a bit odd and alarming for them, they don’t know why they behave badly.

A good book to get is BabyTalk, it’s about speech development and attention up to age 4, it goes into great detail at different ages and stages, I think it’s very useful for the “mother-tongue” method to understand exactly how children do acquire their mother tongue.

Irene said: Nov 30, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

Thanks Celia.

There are a few books in the market by the name of Babytalk, who is the author that you recommended?

Celia Jones said: Feb 15, 2011
 Violin
72 posts

Sorry reei for long delay in replying,

BabyTalk is by Dr Sally Ward. It is a wonderful book.

Laura said: Feb 16, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

I, too, wish to reassure you that a 2.5 year old being “silly” is completely normal!

There are so many developmental steps going on, including the discovery of independence and self-expression. In fact, I wouldn’t expect social behavior to “stabilize” until sometime between 4-6 years old, which is often (not always, but often) the recommended starting age for Suzuki programs in North America. It’s not that a child can’t start the process of learning an instrument at age 2-3. It’s just that the behavior expectations are so different, and often don’t fit into a parent or teacher’s idea of how to spend a paid, scheduled weekly lesson or class. Think of how many little 2-3 year old girls like to play as dancing ballerinas at home, but whether they ready to be in a formal ballet class, following every direction from a teacher, can be a different story.

Ideally, the Suzuki process should begin as young as possible, and the first formal lessons and classes should merely be an extension of this very informal way of “mother tongue” learning. Realistically, however, I believe that there are only a small percentage of teacher/parent combinations that can make this work for a child as young as 2 years old. This is because, for example, a teacher needs to be OK with a 2-year behaving, well, like a 2-year old, while at the same time, the parent of this 2-year old doesn’t feel like any money is being wasted in the process. It requires both parent and teacher to be seeing the “forest” much more than the “trees”. This is a rare situation in North America. I don’t know how it is in Asia.

Where I live, I only know of 3 Suzuki violin teachers (out of perhaps 20-30?) who will begin children as young as 3. Most wait for that window of 4-6 years. Some refuse until they can play a 1/4 size violin. I think that is a little sad, though.

I think that you and your 2.5-year old are doing fine. Don’t worry—just keep on going. Tomorrow is another day!

Emily said: Dec 2, 2013
 59 posts

When you, the parent, is working so hard, it is hard to find time to practice, especially when you also have a little one to look after. Maybe if you do it at the same time every evening and make it important to the 1 year old that you need to listen to sister, then your 1 year old will start to feel more of a routine with the practicing as well. It will just become sort of a habit for your family.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

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