Starting too young?

Tamra said: Apr 26, 2011
 Violin
3 posts

I know this topic must come up a lot, so I apologize for asking the obvious question, but my daughter started violin at 3 1/2 and has been at it for a little over 3 months. My husband feels we’re putting too much stress on such a young child. She clearly loves it, but sometimes she says her tummy hurts (when practicing is too hard, or we suspect she may be nervous about the lesson or group class). And lately, practicing has been an intense struggle. We are working on the components of the Twinkle sandwich, and it may be that these new notes and associated skills are overwhelming, but it’s become very stressful for both of us. I finally gave her the honest option of discontinuing lessons, which made her giggle (and practice!), because, to her, of COURSE she’s going to continue, don’t be silly! She talks all the time about her Twinkle “ceremony”, and when she’ll play Gavotte, and when she’ll play in the orchestra in school. But is she doing this for her, or me? Argh! I’m stressing about her stress! Anyone have any advice? Thank you!!

Mark George said: May 2, 2011
Mark George
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
77 posts

Dear Tamram,

The “starting too young” anxiety is common. 3.5 is usually a fine time to begin, though we should always acknowledge that each child is absolutely unique. The things you have described about the struggle of practicing seem quite ordinary to me. If there is pain (tummy ache) associated with practicing—simply postpone the session or do a “listening only” prcatice session. The important thing is to keep your child engaged and enjoying the process.

Deanna said: May 2, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
90 posts

I think you answered your question yourself when you said: “she clearly loves it.” :)

Plus you’ve only been at it 3 months. That’s barely any time at all. She must be doing really well if she’s already working on the twinkle sandwich.

Looking back I don’t remember consistently enjoying practicing my violin until I was a teenager and even then it wasn’t always consistent!

Tummy aches are pretty normal and usually imaginary. Keep her practices short (5 min max). Give her breaks during practice. For example: We’ll do 5 bowholds and then run across the room. We’ll play twinkle bread and then do 5 jumping jacks. We’ll play twinkle cheese and then give mom a hug.
Anything you can do to make it a game also helps—charts, stickers, stacking blocks for repetitions, concerts for stuffed animals, picking the things to practice out of a hat, dance to the CD, etc.

Good luck! I’m sure you’re on the right track.

Tamra said: May 3, 2011
 Violin
3 posts

Thanks so much to both replies. I think I’ve been a little too rigid in the practicing…not enough fun and play. Also good to hear that the “tummy aches” are somewhat normal…she also says her tummy hurts when she doesn’t want to take a bath, or other tasks she doesn’t want to do, so I think it’s just her “MO”. It’s so good to be reminded that the important thing is she maintains a love of it and doesn’t learn to dread it. Thanks so much again!! This morning’s practice will be fun.

Tamra said: May 3, 2011
 Violin
3 posts

Just an update, this morning after each nugget, each of us (myself, my daughter (the violinist), and my other daughter (her little sister)) took turns standing on our heads. It was hilarious, and the best practice we’ve had in a long time. Thank you again!

Mark George said: May 3, 2011
Mark George
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
77 posts

I used to stand on my head for a good bow hold. Don’t know if I could still do it…

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