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post #61 of 459

Getting back into it

Hi,
My DS (5 in 2 weeks) started on violin last spring and was doing great, having fun, and really into it until mid summer. He had his first little concert at an Arts Festival with the rest of his class and seemed to enjoy it very much, said "I want to do this a hundred more times" afterward. Since then, he has refused to play, saying it "breaks his brain." I can't come up with any games or incentives to get him to play. When he does play he'll only play "fiddle tunes" - his own wild improvisations or his easiest songs. He won't play twinkle, even though he was playing it well before. I'm not sure what to do. Its time to sign up for fall lessons and he says he still wants to, but I'm starting to wonder. We tried summer lessons, but his teacher hasn't been available.
BTW playing violin was his idea, he begged for a month before we gave in, but when we started I committed myself to giving it at least a year.
Its not just violin, he was reading well in the spring and now says that reading "breaks his brain" too.
We were having so much fun before, I'd appreciate any advice to get us back on track.
post #62 of 459
Shana, this sounds like one of those phases in a child's development when things seem really quiescent, or even regressive, but really your child is integrating skills and knowledge and getting prepared for a leap into more abstract learning. I would sit back and be patient, and just stick with the program in terms of your commitment to his Suzuki violin learning. In four to six months I think you'll look back on this summer and say "well NOW I see what he was getting ready for!" Kids never stop learning; all that happens is that sometimes their learning is of internal reintegrating preparatory type and we don't see it. What looks like a plateau usually turns out to have been a foundation for some big leap.

You'll probably find that regular lessons will help get things gradually more on track too, with those clear regular gentle expectations and the rhythm of weekly lessons and assignments. Does he have group classes? That will help a ton as well.

I think you'll find over the long term that waxing and waning, bumps and leaps, are just part of the landscape in music learning. You've met your first one. This too shall pass. I think it's valuable for a child to have a parent stick by them with faith that they can and will eventually progress, that they are worth supporting, that excellence is inevitable when we persist, even when it comes gradually and indirectly, and that sometimes there are pauses and detours but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong.

When my eldest (now 14 and a violin powerhouse, working on the Mendelssohn violin concerto) was your ds's age she went through a similar phase. This was in the winter of 1998-99 and I blogged my way through it. You can read a post from the middle of that phase here. Eventually it passed and she took off again, which you'll discover if you want to read later posts of the "violin blog" type (most of them from 1999 are violin blog posts). Patience was all that was required of me.

Dr. Suzuki talked about two different types of patience. The first is "controlled frustration." The second is "the absence of specific expectations." I think that Suzuki parents need to aspire to the second. Wishing you the good kind of patience.

Miranda
post #63 of 459
Thank you for your wonderful reply! I still need to graduate from "controlled frustration".
I agree that its a developmental phase. He's responding the same way to other activities that he enjoyed before, reading, drawing, swimming. Everything "breaks his brain". And I have no idea where he came up with that expression!
We haven't had regular lessons through the summer and haven't had group at all. I'm convinced he learns more in group than in his private lesson. Our current teacher just took a job at a local university and is only going to offer group monthly. I had been considering another teacher, who ONLY does Suzuki, and monthly versus weekly group may tip the scales in her direction.
I'm hoping that he gets back into when we start lessons again. He has played his crazy fiddle tunes for the for the last couple days as long as I only applaud and don't make any suggestions It's really pretty adorable when I'm not trying to get him to do something else. I'll look at it as another form of learning from now on. Thanks!
post #64 of 459
subbing!
post #65 of 459
Not a Suzuki family here, but definitely interested. I will go back and read all the posts, but I had to respond to one poster whose dc's interest stemmed from going to a bluegrass festival. Dh is a guitar fanatic and is really into bluegrass, so we attend quite a few festivals (along with folk and celtic ones).

Anyway, ds is only 2, but he has not ever responded to kids music in the way he seems interested in bluegrass. He always runs to dh's room when dh starts playing or singing this style.

Anyway, my question for some of you experienced muso's - I am thinking about learning violin myself (at the ripe old age of 31). I have been a bit put off by some people's responses, but then, others have been encouraging. I love the sound of the instrument myself, and love celtic music, so I'd love to try. I guess the other thing is that I would like ds to see me playing music as well as dh, and eventually for ds to learn an instrument to play with us. Can anyone give me some encouraging words of wisdom?

Right, I'm off to see if I can find out more about suzuki method.
post #66 of 459
We're picking up again. What was the book suggested (here?) with tips for making practicing fun? I skimmed this thread but couldn't find it. Thanks!
post #67 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkaha View Post
We're picking up again. What was the book suggested (here?) with tips for making practicing fun? I skimmed this thread but couldn't find it. Thanks!
OOoooh! I'd definitely love to know the names of any books. And, while I'm at it, anyone know of books for kids that talk about practicing?

still cello-ing here...
megin
post #68 of 459

Fall Schedule

We just got a new Fall schedule from school. We do all of the group lessons on Mondays from Pre-Twinkies up to book 2/3 starting from 4:30pm. The goup lessons are 45min each, but they had added 5min between classes for tansitioning. Mostly, for teachers who may teach one class to the other, or kids to get their violin out, put the coats up, etc. I like that.

Soon, we'll have our Halloween Play in for all the groups to play together with costume on.

What is happening with your school that is new and exciting??
post #69 of 459
I'm so glad to have found this thread!!

I grew up in a Suzuki family. I played violin for one year, then switched to viola. I've been a violist ever since! I play professionally and teach Suzuki method violin and viola.

My kids are 7 and 4, and we're getting ready to start lessons as soon as their violins get here. We've dabbled with their lessons before. Ds started when he was 5, right when we were starting to homeschool. I couldn't fight both battles! Now that homeschooling is going well, we'll get back to violin.

Dd is eager to start. She already has a pretty bow hold and a strong interest. She would much rather play my violin. Hopefully the 1/16 that is coming will sound a lot better than her 1/32!
post #70 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by megincl View Post
OOoooh! I'd definitely love to know the names of any books.
I love the Eds' books. Ed Kreitman wrote "Teaching from the Balance Point" which is about violin pedagogy and how it is all wrapped up in the Suzuki philosophy. There are some very inspiring stories and he presents a wonderfully realistic big-picture view of the Suzuki violin journey. It's about equally relevant to parents and teachers. Edmund Sprunger wrote "Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making it Easier" vol. 1 which is, as the title would suggest, primarily for parents. It's not all about gimmicky stuff, games and bribes like it could be. Instead, while there are a few little games suggested, the book is mostly about expectations and supporting your child and figuring out how to help your child do good practicing more easily.

Miranda
post #71 of 459
ebethmom, nice to meet a fellow violist. I grew up a Suzuki violinist but 'cross-trained' on a borrowed viola for two or three years as a teen in ensembles and youth orchestra. As an adult I continued with violin on and off but somehow I knew that even though I didn't own an instrument I was a violist at heart. I bought myself a viola about 6 years ago and haven't looked back.

My ds (11) is also a violist. I'm learning the Suzuki viola repertoire alongside him since I didn't learn it at the first pass. He's just grown into a 13" instrument that should be arriving next week. He plays a Sabatier, lucky kid.

I have never found a 1/32nd that's really worth playing. Three of my kids started on that size (we grow small kids in my family) and they kind of hit walls of frustration with the sound quality, especially when it came time to start using the D-string. The sixteenth seemed so joyfully playable when they finally grew into it. My 5yo recently moved up to a 1/10th. It was still a little too big, but she's well set up and was feeling the limits of her 1/16th, and it was a similar order-of-magnitude improvement in playability. Life's good now.

We're arranging and re-arranging fall schedules here too. Our group classes and orchestra rehearsals will shift to Wednesday evenings this year. They're a challenge at the best of times -- we have 15 students, ages 4-15, violin and viola, levels from Twinkle to post-Book-10 all in the same group class . My younger kids' violin lessons will be on the same day but in the morning. My elder two no longer study locally because they've outgrown their teachers. We drive them to lessons elsewhere once a month. Not ideal, but it's the best we can do.

Miranda
post #72 of 459
Ed Kreitman's book Teaching from the Balance Point is on my list of required reading for every Suzuki parent. He writes so clearly and has such a clear vision for his students.

I also like Ed Sprunger's book. Your description is great, Miranda. I'm sure I'll be referring back to this book often as I attempt to teach my own kids.

I would also recommend two volumes published by SAA. They are compilations of articles published in the SAA journals. Drat . . . I'll have to post later with the titles. I can't come up with them at the moment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I have never found a 1/32nd that's really worth playing.
We actually have two in our home right now. One of my teacher friends let me borrow her dd's first violin. It's one of the Twinkle violins. I don't think they make that line anymore. She bought it as a "small 1/16". I measured it, and it is actually a 1/32. It sounds OK.

When we first borrowed her violin, my dd was only 2 1/2. She was just dangerous! We had her violin out in the rehearsal hall on afternoon, and she just TOOK OFF! I was right there with her, but she was too fast. Running full tilt with a borrowed violin - EEK! So I bought her an ebay special. It truly is a VSO!! (Sharspeak for Violin Shaped Object)

It's pretty, but it's impossible to tune and sounds like the piece of trash that it really is. Dd would try to play it, then hand it back saying "It's not working!"

I'm looking forward to getting my kids started, and also a little nervous. I'm on a tight schedule with our homeschool. We have to get it all done before I leave to teach other peoples' kids!
post #73 of 459
Hi! My sister is a suzuki learner. (My mom found out about it too late for me). She took violin, and still plays at age 30 recreationally, whereas I had traditional piano lessons and hated every minute of it.

My son is 3 1/4, and loves music. We have a keyboard (not a piano) that my in-laws got for him (cheaper, you know), and he likes to play it. I would like to start him on the violin, but I haven't really exposed him to seeing violins played, just listening to Vol. 1 and talking about violins when we listen to classical music.

My thought for starting him on violin is that learning to tune is important, and that he can switch to piano when he is older. We have a pretty good Suzuki community here in Gainesville, FL. Should I wait until he's older (like 4?) or start him in January when he's 3.5? I was thinking January because my 2nd baby is due then, and I thought Suzuki could be something that we do together as a special mommy-son thing.
post #74 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I have never found a 1/32nd that's really worth playing.
I should qualify that. There are defintely better and worse 1/32nds and the better ones are better than nothing. I think that there are a few that can be playable on the A and E strings but it's almost impossible to find one that has a responsive D- or G-string sound. One of ours could sort of make a passable D-string sound, enough for, say, that one note in "Long Long Ago," but when it came to sustained lower-string playing in the latter half of Book 1 it was the sort of thing that made me want to apologize to my kid after every note for the poor tool I'd had to provide her with.

A typical 1/32-size beginner will have grown into a 1/16th by the time s/he's working in the latter half of Book 1. That didn't happen in our family with two of the kids so we struggled, my eldest especially. With my youngest, we moved her up 'early', while the sixteenth was still a bit too big, and she did much better.

Miranda
post #75 of 459
My thoughts on starting age are earlier in this thread, here and here. But only you know your ds and your individual circumstances. Starting before age 4+ can be a huge challenge; many/most Suzuki teachers don't start 3-year-olds any more due to those challenges, even though there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea a generation ago. Still, every child is different.

Miranda
post #76 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShanaT View Post
We were having so much fun before, I'd appreciate any advice to get us back on track.
I am not a suzuki mom (my child goes to Childbloom guitar www.childbloom.com, which is similar but not quite suzuki), but I found the book In the Suzuki Style: A Manual for Raising Musical Consciousness in Children by Elizabeth Mills (Berkeley, CA: Diablo Press, 1973) a great resource for motivating children when they are losing interest. It is out of print, but your library may have a copy. The book A Suzuki Parent's Diary: or How I Survived My Firs 10,000 Twinkles by Carroll Morris also speaks of how after a big recital, your child may fall into the dumps. So take heart! It should pass.

Good luck!
Shifra
post #77 of 459
Thread Starter 
Ideas for developing "self tracking" of repeated sections?

DD's getting ready for her book 1 graduation and we're having some issues with repeated sections. I'll give an example: Minuet 3 starts with a section that seems to repeat but actually has two different endings. Then that entire section is repeated. DD gets pretty frustrated with me when she goes on to the next section and I remind her about the repeat. "But I already repeated it!" I've shown her the music several times, singing through it for her and showing her the notation. In an attempt to make it more concrete for her I told her that each "hello" section (the grace note) needs a "goodbye" section to follow it and then you repeat the hello and goodbye and *that's* the repeat.

So I used jelly beans (at this point we were desperately needing a pick me up) and when she'd start the hello section I'd put out a yellow bean, and a red bean after she followed it up with the goodbye section, and then we'd repeat it and then she'd go on of course. And she got it - yay! But after a few times doing this very well I figured we needed to try it without my visual cues. So I asked her to keep track herself and she got lost again. And super duper frustrated, I might add. Tears and unconsolable. I'm getting the feeling she's quite frustrated and disappointed with herself.

I so want to help her get this and feel good about playing again. It's like she lacks a certain mindfulness about her playing and I don't see how we're going to get through the book 1 recital without it.

Any ideas? I'm really looking forward to her emerging on the other side of this and feeling good about her playing again.
post #78 of 459
I love using "stepping stones" because they're so beautifully incremental.

You get the requisite number of pieces of craft/construction paper. For the first half of Minuet 3 you'd want four. You might choose pink for the "hellos" and yellow for the "goodbyes." Get your child's input on colour choices -- if they're meaningful they'll work better and your child will be more invested in them. Write (or draw symbols) for "hello" and "goodbye" in them. Then use many or all of the following steps, progressing to the next once she deems the current one "too easy." Most kids love it when you say "oh yeah? you think that's too easy? Let's see if you can do this, then!" as if you'll be amazed if they can ... but you notch the difficulty up by such a teeny amount that they're sure they can do it.
  1. Ask your dd to help you lay them out on the floor as a "path" in the order they come in the piece.
  2. Ask her to make the path all by herself.
  3. Put them down mixed up and ask her to fix them.
  4. Get her to try putting them in order when they're face down, without the words/symbols showing.
  5. Listen to the first half of the piece on CD whilst stepping with her from one "stone" to the next.
  6. Challenge her to step at the right time from one to the next while listening to the piece.
  7. Sing the piece and step with her.
  8. Have her sing the piece while stepping.
  9. Put the stones behind your back and pull out pink or yellow randomly. Ask her to sing it.
  10. Repeat the above but ask her to play the section you pull out on her violin.
  11. Repeat the previous step, but with two or four sections in sequence, with a short "stop and think" break between each one.
  12. Repeat the previous step, but with the stepping stones on the floor as a path. She should play with a stop, step, think pause between each one.
  13. Repeat the previous step, but with the stepping stones face down (no words or icons, just colours.
  14. Repeat with a shorter Stop/Step/Think pause.
  15. Repeat the previous step, but hide one of the stepping stones beneath a newspaper or magazine so that she no longer has the colour clue.
  16. Repeat the previous step, but hide two stepping stones.
  17. Repeat, hiding three.
  18. Repeat, hiding all four.
  19. Pick up all the stepping stones and newspapers and make a big show of putting down 'invisible stepping stones.' "Here's a pink one! Now for a yellow...." Challenge her to play and walk along the invisible path.
  20. Next challenge her to play while standing still and imagining walking along the invisible stepping stones.

Each day when you practice, back up one or two stages in this progression from where you left off the previous day, and start moving forward again.

This approach almost always works beautifully and very quickly. I honestly can't remember it ever NOT working with a student. And the metaphor of a mental journey along a path is something the kids seem to internalize and transfer to other repertoire with increasing ease.

Hope that helps!

Miranda
post #79 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShanaT View Post
When he does play he'll only play "fiddle tunes" - his own wild improvisations or his easiest songs. We were having so much fun before, I'd appreciate any advice to get us back on track.
Hi, I'm new to this thread. I was a suzuki violin kid from age 6. My DD is only 6mo, but shows allot of interest in music of all kinds, & LOVES to be in the sling under my fiddle when we are performing. (getting a little big for it these days though, & grabbing the bow now to!) Anyways, ShanaT, I too was one of those kids that only wanted to play fiddle tunes (that is all I do now, DH & I are a celtic duet,) but I stuck to suzuki 'till I was 12, & classical 'till I was 19 (then I moved to Scotland for 2yrs... they converted me for good) Anyways, to keep me on my classical track (wich I think is important even if he does become just a fiddler,) my parents used the fiddle tunes themselves as incintive. Basicly, If I worked on my suzuki lessons, I got to learn a fiddle tune too! Of course sometimes pizza bribes were necicary to get good practice in too... but... the fiddle tunes were defonitly good encouragment. I hope this helps at all. Good Luck! BTW, maby try telling him that it is building not breaking his brain?
post #80 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixilixi View Post

Anyway, my question for some of you experienced muso's - I am thinking about learning violin myself (at the ripe old age of 31). I have been a bit put off by some people's responses, but then, others have been encouraging. I love the sound of the instrument myself, and love celtic music, so I'd love to try. I guess the other thing is that I would like ds to see me playing music as well as dh, and eventually for ds to learn an instrument to play with us. Can anyone give me some encouraging words of wisdom?
Do it! Do it! Do it! Go for it girl!!!!!!!!! You are never too old to learn music!!!!!! I have a fiew students who are kids (I work allot more on classical w/ them,) but most of my students are mid 20's to mid 30's & either picking it up for the first time or picking it back up after giving it up in childhood. I have one student who is 50 & she is awesome!!! She started at 35 w/ a teacher who told her she was too old (ironicly, my first teacher,) and so she gave it up thinking she was too old Then she saw my fliers which quote "you are never too old to learn music" and has been taking lessons from me for about 2yrs now & is doing Great!!!!!! Most of the adults I work with are interested in pretty much just the fiddle tunes (mostly celtic, some bluegrass) so I cater to that. I give them classical technique, but we mostly just learn fiddle tunes. After all, I firmly believe that music should be fun, so go ahead, find a fiddle teacher, screach away & have FUN!!!!!!! Oh, and don't be so hard on yourself either, adults tend to be way too self critical. I have a 31yo student right now who is doing amazing for the short time he's been playing, but has some serious self esteme issues. He want's to quit after 4mo cuz he's not a virtuoso yet! We had a good long talk the other day, I really hope he shows up to his lesson tonight. It takes time & Love, you have to give it that
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