Formal Music Lessons for Toddlers? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 46 Old 08-09-2006, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Any kind of reading/links that they think might be helpful?

*~* A * Mama to C and A * *~* I blog - PM me for the URL
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#2 of 46 Old 08-09-2006, 09:20 PM
 
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You might want to look into the Suzuki method...they regularly start kids when they are toddlers. I took a Suzuki violin class when I was 5 and I was the oldest child...the youngest was 18 months. I have mixed feelings about it, especially since my mom was a Suzuki teacher and I saw a lot of kids go through the Suzuki course, play really really well at a young age, but then totally burn out and drop piano altogether. I think it's something that can be fantastic if it's child-directed...not so fantastic if it's more parent-led. Any child learning an instrument through the Suzuki method also needs repertoire that is not in the Suzuki books, IMO, especially jazz, folk songs, other nonclassical repertoire. It does get boring playing the same songs all the others are playing, even though the pieces in the Suzuki books are incredibly well-chosen and appealing.

Most "traditional" teachers would not take on a child younger than 5. However, if your child shows significant interest and musical talent from a young age, you might look into it - I'm sure there are teachers who will take students of any age who show promise. There is a program at Juilliard for very young prodigies. Formal lessons require a lot of focus, both for the lesson and for the required practice, but there are profoundly musically gifted children who can do this from a very young age. (Just for comparison, though, most kids are not ready until about age 8.)
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#3 of 46 Old 08-09-2006, 10:23 PM
 
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Not sure if this is formal enough but we had good experience with this: http://www.musictogether.com/

It is great early ear training and will add fun songs and activities to your family.
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#4 of 46 Old 08-10-2006, 12:19 AM
 
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I recommend Musikgarten or Music Together. Kindermusik if your town doesn't have either of those; it has a lot of good things in it but I prefer Music Together and Musikgarten over Kindermusik. It's less systematic about teaching musical elements and is more commercially oriented. Also, it doesn't have as many folk songs in its curriculum. Suzuki could be good, in addition to one of those, after about 3 or so, if YOU learn the instrument first. (Start taking lessons from your child's teacher, a few months before you want him or her. It's based on the premise that a child wants to imitate his parents. So you can't just sign your kid up for Suzuki; YOU have to do it too.) Ask if you can attend free classes. As with anything, it's the teacher that makes or breaks it.
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#5 of 46 Old 08-10-2006, 12:30 AM
 
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I could write a book on this.

I'm a registered Suzuki violin teacher, and I love the method. It's based on a philosophy that every child can learn to play a musical instrument, just like every child can learn to speak. One of the important philosophies is that a child learns best ina loving, positive enviroment, and lesson concepts are broken down into tiny teaching points that are mastered one by one. It's also incredibly parent friendly if you find the right teacher- you don't have to have any musical instrument experience to help your child be sucessful. I respectfully disagree that a parent should start lessons before the child- I really haven't found it necessary; but a parent does have to be very involved in practicing, lessons, acitvities, etc. My best advice if you decide to go that route, is to observe a lot of teachers if possible before comitting to one, so you find one whose personality and style fit with you and your child.

I teach several children inthe 3-4 year old range and it's wonderfully sucessful. Just like learning a second language is easy as a young child, so is learning an instrument. I love watching my little ones discover and learn- they don't know that playing the violin is supposed to be hard, and they get so excited by their progress. My almost five year old is also doing Suzuki Violin with a different teacher and it's done wonderful things for her.

We have also had terrific experience with Music Together. I can't say enough good about that. My kids still listen to and sing the songs all the time, even though we haven't been to the classes in a year or so. I also founda range of "crunchy parents" there. My two year old would frequently nurse during class and she wasn't the oldest nursling!

Good luck in your journey, and pm if you have more questions. I'm always happy to talk someone's ear off about Suzuki.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#6 of 46 Old 08-11-2006, 01:23 AM
 
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ashley these are purely my thoughts based on the personality of my child. she loves music. she lives for music. she learnt how to work the cd player at 10 months so she could put on her own cds.

BUT she is also a free spirit and doesnt like formal lessons yet. she is v. high energy and it is v. hard for her to actually sit down and follow 'orders' no matter how good and patient the teacher is. she gets excited and wants to do things her own way.

sooooo i have decided not to put her in any formal school yet.

BUT.... i have surrounded her with musical instruments. whatever i can afford. for her first bday she got a casio keyboard. within a month she 'killed' it trying to figure out the buttons. she got the kazoo when she was what 9 months old and an egg 'shaker'. since then she has had drums, harmonica, banjo, guitar, recorder - a bunch of cultural instruments. she and her friend formed their own band the zanjoes and they have soooo much fun making up songs and playing their instruments.

and i also surround her different kinds of music which is when i discovered she loves japanese opera, opera, musicals, rock, the beatles (she can even tell you everything about them) and rolling stones.

she has told me she wants to take piano lessons. but i dont think she is ready to sit down and actually follow 'orders' however little it is.

i have also found she doesnt really like any of the music classes they do here because she always wants to do her own thing.

so right now i am just surrounding her with opportunities and giving her the chance to explore. and if she really wants to learn i will sign her up when she begs me.

i dont play any musical instruments but her dad does. so she follows him and strums on the guitar and creates her own lyrics and tunes. she is pretty good at strumming and knows about the different notes and chords. so i think when she is visiting her dad she kinda picks up by asking questions - the closest to lessons right now.

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#7 of 46 Old 08-11-2006, 08:43 PM
 
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I am currently reading a book called "And the skylarks sing with me" that deals with the Suzuki method and homeschooling. From the small amount that I have already read, it sounds like a very promising method to any child that is very young and driven to learn a certain musical instrument.
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#8 of 46 Old 08-11-2006, 09:27 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Stacymom]
I respectfully disagree that a parent should start lessons before the child- I really haven't found it necessary; but a parent does have to be very involved in practicing, lessons, acitvities, etc.

I totally defer to you on this. I'm not a Suzuki teacher. All I know is what my sister in law (who is a Suzuki violin) has told me. I imagine there are probably a bunch of different positions on that! And now that I think of it, I think she was maybe referring to young toddlers when she said the parents needed to start off with lessons first (like the 18 month old, 2 yr old aged kids), rather than the preschoolers.
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#9 of 46 Old 08-18-2006, 08:16 PM
 
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Thanks for the ideas, everyone. My son just turned 3, and he has been asking about playing guitars and violins for a year now. We've gotten him all kinds of toy instruments and even a small (used) guitar, but he's asking for a violin with strings (his dad made him one out of cardboard, but he wants the real thing!) I've hesitated on calling teachers just because I don't want to push him if he's too young, but I also don't want to squander his natural interest and talent!
One tip I can share with you is that my children both love to watch Andre Rieu's concerts (televised by PBS, available on VHS and DVD at Amazon and through Netflix). They are getting wonderful exposure to classical music, watching the musicians play their instruments, observing concert behavior, without me having to lug small children to performances (which usually take place at their bedtime anyway).
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#10 of 46 Old 08-19-2006, 09:01 PM
 
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sarahlou also look around for free classical events around you. our public library has it and some of the symphonies have at least teh first performance for lower priced tickets. these are not easy to find but they are out there. and the good part is because these are for families (afternoons here) they open an hour early and let the children check out and ask questions about the instruments.

unfortunately my dd is off classical music for now. she is a big beatles and rolling stones fan. so we go to see bands in coffee shops since she is a night owl. she enjoys the music. all summer we also have concerts in the park at around 6 pm meant specifically for children.

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#11 of 46 Old 08-22-2006, 01:22 AM
 
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If you are looking for an informal music class try "the music class" themusicclass.com Their main "selling point" is making the class as informal as possible. If you are in Canada the classes are offered through "Music for Young Children" www.myc.com Hope this helps!

Laura WAHM to Mar 03/01/05 and Evie 05/14/08, partner to Craig
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#12 of 46 Old 08-22-2006, 08:18 AM
 
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Stacymom-- how would one go about finding Suzuki teachers in their area? I've visited several websites, but I know there are teachers out there and I'm not finding them.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#13 of 46 Old 08-22-2006, 09:29 PM
 
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Hey Rynna-

Try www.suzukiassociation.org and click on the "parents" heading. Then you should be able to navigate a teacher search.

You could also try calling local music stores in your area and see if they can refer you to someone. Make sure you interview any of these carefully, because they may not have the qualifications you want. Often, teacher will say they "teach Suzuki" or "Use the Suzuki Books" but have had no formal teacher training. This will sound elitist, but I don't think anyone can teach the Suzuki method in its intended form without going through the teacher training courses.

Or, you can PM me where you live, and I can look up some teachers for you in my National Directory.

Good luck.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#14 of 46 Old 09-03-2006, 05:37 AM
 
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Music Together!!!!
It's extremely rare for a toddler to be ready for formal music instruction. They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.

mama to dd (4-15-06) and
ds (2-23-09)
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#15 of 46 Old 09-03-2006, 10:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enudely
Music Together!!!!
It's extremely rare for a toddler to be ready for formal music instruction. They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.
Keep in mind that this is a forum for parents of gifted children; some of these kids are even profoundly gifted. Both of my older children were capable of singing "a whole song in tune while keeping the beat" by the time that they could speak in complete sentences (15 and 20 months, respectively). I know that they're not alone in being capable of such a feat as toddlers.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#16 of 46 Old 09-03-2006, 01:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
Keep in mind that this is a forum for parents of gifted children; some of these kids are even profoundly gifted. Both of my older children were capable of singing "a whole song in tune while keeping the beat" by the time that they could speak in complete sentences (15 and 20 months, respectively). I know that they're not alone in being capable of such a feat as toddlers.
I agree. And, kids who are capable of singing a whole song in tune without missing a beat or many of them may still enjoy Music Together type classes. I know my son really loved them and got so much out of the experience.
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#17 of 46 Old 09-03-2006, 03:24 PM
 
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wow!

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ds (2-23-09)
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#18 of 46 Old 09-03-2006, 09:23 PM
 
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Don't get me wrong, I *love* Music Together; Bean and I visited a class when he was a little fella, and it was so much fun. The trouble is, it's *very* expensive and it's designed for a one-to-one parent child ratio; I'd need an obscene amount of money to do MT classes, because not only would I have to pay for two of my three children, but I'd have to pay two other people to come along with them and chase.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#19 of 46 Old 09-22-2006, 04:43 AM
 
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Wow, that sucks! The Music Together program here is all about families, and most of the parents have two or three kiddos with them. Must be an instructor thing. But out MT teacher says that one of the hallmarks of MT is the multiage environment that mimics real life, which in turns helps you integrate music into the rest of YOUR daily life. A philosophy I totally love. Plus, I told the teacher that I really would *love* to take the class but it wasn't in the budget; could I barter with her, and she said that she didn't barter but to come on for free. Yay!
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#20 of 46 Old 09-22-2006, 01:01 PM
 
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we did the suzuki method as small kids oh that violin was so cute looking at it now I think it was a 1/16 or a 1/32 tiny. But my mom really didn't pick the right instrument for me, I cringe when I hear about you have to start with piano or violin type people I have man hands even as a small child I played two notes at once on the violin it was painful (and for the people who heard me Piano might have been a better choice but I could never get my left hand up to snuff.

Get creative with music there are so many cool instruments out there and teachers are not that hard to find. I eventually settled in the double bass which was great for my big old man hands!

Also there are great music things you can do as a family like african drumming, steel drum bands. I had a friend whose son was a natural drummer from the time he could crawl he was always interested in what tones an object made it was neat to see. Get a range of instruments to have at home lessons can make things seem external to the home environment not part of it. Expose them to music of all types.

Quote:
They are not truly ready until they can consistently sing a whole song in tune while keeping the beat.
LOL then my profoundly gifted mother will never be able to take music lessons! (actually she did piano fine as a child but man she still can't sing as babies she'd sing us to sleep and we'd START crying, we didn't even let her sing in church...at christmas time)

8 might be enough
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#21 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 04:36 AM
 
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I want to learn guitar, but I'm having trouble finding a teacher in my area that can work with in my schedule. Someone suggested that I get some lessons on DVD. So I got a video and the songs where country songs and they just bored me. Does anyone have any helpful advice on some guitar lessons videos, and where I can get them? I do know a little, some cords and stuff, but I'm still really an amateur. Please help me.
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#22 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Stacymom-- how would one go about finding Suzuki teachers in their area? I've visited several websites, but I know there are teachers out there and I'm not finding them.
We found ours by accident. Went to the local music store that offered lessons and requested someone who was experienced with young kids (DD was 6 at the time, and our first instructor was not so good with little kids). At the first lesson, the instructor asked if it would be ok if she taught DD using the Suzuki method.

It was great for a while, but now DD is over her initial obsession with violin and wants to quit. I'm torn between wanting her to stick it out and learn that not everything will come easy to her, but she can do it, and going more child- led and letting her decide. I just fixed my cello, so maybe with a playing partner she'll be more interested in practicing.

Monica , DH :cop , DD (8) , DS1 (5) , DS2 (2/09) , and the pup
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#23 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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I just fixed my cello, so maybe with a playing partner she'll be more interested in practicing.

monkaha, Does your S instructor require that you play with your daughter? We know a lovely cello S instructor and she requires that the parent rent/purchase a cello as well as one for the student. The parent must practice with the student--because this demonstrates that it is really important and part of the life of the family.

We've adapted this to our family but by picking a type of music that is very accessible and playing it as a family. We have a collection of folk instruments and love trad music. Sing a lot as a family--turn off the cd player (important if you have perfectionists about!) and make the music yourself. My guys love to write songs and it is really easy to record them in garageband on the computer or 'write' them down.

A strumstick is a lot of fun. My guitar obsessed baby girl can play it with a bit of help. Ukuleles are also really fun--and it is easier to play then guitar.

Just have a time everyday where you play music. There is a logic in an instrument that a curious mind can discover for themselves with or without formal instruction.

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#24 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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She doesn't require it. DD has been resisting practicing, though, and I'm hoping this will help at least a bit. I do see the logic of having music be a family thing, showing the importance of it and all. Recent scheduling has prevented it from being priority around here, and I'm wanting to change that for the summer. We'll see....

Monica , DH :cop , DD (8) , DS1 (5) , DS2 (2/09) , and the pup
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#25 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 06:08 PM
 
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The wife of our violin teacher (who was herself the home teacher to their four children) gave a talk about practicing at our last Suzuki graduation. She used a handout that gave the stages of practicing as follows:

ages 4-7--I practice because Mommy wants me to
ages 7-14--I practice because I have to
ages 14-18--I practice because I perform a lot and I need to do it
age 18+--I love music

So if you wait until children love music to practice, they won't be children anymore.

I am personally comfortable making daily practice a rule at our house because it's a job for me, too, and because I want my daughter to have exposure to something that doesn't come instantly and easily, but rather requires hard work every day. I don't consider it an optional "extra-curricular," but rather part of her character development. However, your personal tolerance for compulsory activities may vary.

One thing is certain; if you are dithering about forcing the practice issue, your child will exploit that. So it's best to make up your mind, and then decide to follow through on whatever you decide.
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#26 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 08:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bird Girl View Post

ages 4-7--I practice because Mommy wants me to
ages 7-14--I practice because I have to
ages 14-18--I practice because I perform a lot and I need to do it
age 18+--I love music

So if you wait until children love music to practice, they won't be children anymore.

.
Wow, this is really negative. I'm wondering if this jives with the experience of other people. Our child practices because he loves music and because he wants to improve and recognizes that practice is necessary to make that happen. We started from the position that he's fortunate to be able to have lessons and we've never taken on the role of making him practice.When he started lessons we expressed that practicing would be his responsibility and as long as he did we'd be glad to pay for lessons. When he started lessons we expressed that practicing would be his responsibility and as long as he did we'd be glad to pay for lessons.
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#27 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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We're taking a break from violin now (dd begged for it and we started just after she turned 4). She wasn't too keen on touching the instrument between lessons, and I've got enough to do in the evenings without cajoling her into practicing; music is definitely not one of my things, either, so it wasn't something I could easily cajole about. I let it ride for the school year, and then decided we'd stop until she was willing to practice for a little while most nights. It's just too expensive for weekly "fun with the violin teacher, except when you don't feel like playing" sessions. I'm still renting the violin in case she feels like messing around with it.

We didn't do Suzuki and I have to say I'm glad. I learned by Suzuki, which felt very rigid to me at the time, and it made reading music much harder later on. Dd recognizes notes by name, not by A1, A2, etc., and I think that'll help her. It's helped in practicing, too, because if I couldn't get her to play the violin, she'd sometimes come play piano games, and then from there we'd get F# on the piano, F# on the violin, etc. She also enjoys the music theory workbooks. I might reconsider Suzuki if there were a good-sized class around that didn't require the parents' gung-ho attendance -- having other kids around might motivate dd more to pay attention to posture, bowing, etc.

Personally, I think violin's a tough first instrument -- physically it's difficult and awkward for quite a while. I don't know that I'd do it if the kid didn't ask & ask for it.
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#28 of 46 Old 05-31-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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Oh, and Roar, that practice handout was exactly my experience as a kid. I wasn't given a choice about playing an instrument -- I could choose which one I wanted, but music was part of my education, like it or not. Practicing was not optional. I detested it. Stomach-ache detested and loathed it. Not for lack of adult models of enjoying playing, either -- I had relatives who played in major symphony orchestras and were professional songwriters; my mother called herself untalented (and more or less was) but was very diligent and I can still hear her practicing her Telemann. My father was utterly musicless but loved the sound. I took lessons till I was 15, at which point I left home and never thought about bringing the violin along. And boy, was I surprised, in early adulthood, when I got my violin again and went voluntarily to lessons, and practiced, because the sound was so beautiful. I'm still lousy and clumsy, and have no sense of rhythm or modulation, but it's a lovely and restorative way to spend an hour.
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#29 of 46 Old 06-01-2008, 01:04 AM
 
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Do you think it is negative? There's a difference between the joy of playing, and the pleasure of going to the summer workshop and making great music all day long and the day-in-and-day-out of practicing. I think it pretty accurately describes most of the kids I know who've done music for any length of time (including myself.) First, they practice because the parent is taking out the instrument, calling them over and telling them it's time. Then, they realize that practicing is an important part of playing their instrument. Then, as they perform more and more, they realize that they must lengthen and deepen their practice time in order to get what they want out of the instrument. Then, they realize that it's something they do for the sheer joy of it, as their hobby, or, if they're really nuts about it, as an avocation. Perhaps it's predicated on the idea that kids have more performance opportunities when they are secondary students, and fewer as they move toward college and full-time employment, where they have to carve out time to do it.

I would say that if you had a five year old who genuinely managed his/her own practice on a daily basis, patiently going through all the things that the teacher asked for during lesson, and reviewing not just once, but multiple times, then, yes, you have an unusual kid. Most children who have practice left up to them wind up dropping out, in fairly short order. Violin is not something you can learn to have a lot of success on when you only take it out once a week.

And Mama41--that's exactly how my playing goes, and is! It's more meditation then a moving experience for my listeners. But hey, I'm having fun!
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Originally Posted by Bird Girl View Post

I would say that if you had a five year old who genuinely managed his/her own practice on a daily basis, patiently going through all the things that the teacher asked for during lesson, and reviewing not just once, but multiple times, then, yes, you have an unusual kid. Most children who have practice left up to them wind up dropping out, in fairly short order. Violin is not something you can learn to have a lot of success on when you only take it out once a week.
Ah, five year old. This is the reason why I wouldn't have most five year olds take lessons. Lessons are a major commitment of family time and resources. If a kid isn't motivated to put the time in I wouldn't devote my time and resources to it. We waited until our child was really committed and mature enough to be the one responsible for practicing. He started at age 7 and is now in his fifth year. We consider it our jobs as parents to: drive, to pay for lessons, to provide the equipment, to provide an audience as desired, to give help when asked and to allow for time in the day for practice. I have never considered it my job to make the kid practice or to supervise if he's practicing correctly.

I guess it depends on your goals. What I hope for in music lessons: fun, developing an increased appreciation for and understanding of music and having the experience of working steadily over time at something that requires effort. Being able to play the instrument well and to have it as a possible thing to enjoy for life are bonuses. For me the parent taking on a major role in this process makes it difficult to accomplish the goals we had.

Oh and if it matters I had years of lessons in two instruments. I was expected to practice and I did. I can't say I always loved it and there were times I struggled with motivation, but that was my struggle - not my parents' struggle. To make it a parents' struggle sends a pretty negative message to the child about the experience and about their own capabilities.
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