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#1 of 20 Old 07-15-2007, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 6 yo dd has been wanting to play the violin for awhile. So she finally started lessons and of course now she is frustrated that it is hard and doesn't want to do it. She is fine at the lessons, and her group even does little concerts, which she loves. She just gets frustrated so easily and doesn't want to practice.

Mostly, I just want to let her quit when the session is over (soon), but part of me thinks she'll never learn anything if she always gives up! I do not want to get to the point of persuading and bribing to get her to practice, I am leaving it up to her (w/ lots of encouragment!).

I would love to hear some other experiences with learning an instrument!
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#2 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 10:25 AM
 
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On one hand, I think it is fine to let a child try something new, and then stop doing it after a while if they decide it isn't for them. I dislike the word "quitting" because it sounds so negative, and I don't think that every single thing we try in life we need to keep doing forever.

Both of my kids have taken music lessons in the past, but neither are right now. They both like to play music, even though they don't currently take lessons.

The rule in our family is that if you are going to take lessons, you have to practice pretty much every day, or lessons are pretty much a waste of everyone's time as well as a waste of money.

Some things that might help practice go easier:

1. Sit with her during practice. She is too young to be expected to practice on her own.

2. Keep practice very short. If she isn't practicing much at all right now, 10 minutes a day would be a great goal.

3. Let her put a little sticker on the line of music after she has played it all the way through. There are really cute little music themed stickers, and it is fun to watch the book get full of stickers.

4. Have a regular time to practice, so that it becomes a habit. If everyday you are starting out with a question of *if* she wants to practice and *when* she feels like it, then often she just won't feel like it. Let it just become something that you guys do together, right up there with brushing teeth.

5. Spend part of her practice time playing pieces that she already knows, so it is easy.

6. Listen to violen music at other times and enjoy it together.

7. Let her see you working at something that you want to be better at. Model the behavoir you are trying to teach her.

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I do not want to get to the point of persuading and bribing to get her to practice, I am leaving it up to her (w/ lots of encouragment!).
I think that kids often need encouragment to work through the hard part of something. There is a line, though, between encouraging and forcing, and you know your child best. I do think that it is in our children's best interest to help them find ways to follow their bliss, and for some kids that means helping them learn to work at something they love.

At the same time, it needs to be something they love. One of my DDs used to take violin and doesn't now. Now she is into competitive swimming. She will practice about 10 hours this week (not counting just for fun swimming). She will also do exercises at home every day that her coach recommened. She won't always feel like it, but she knows that it is part of becoming the best she can at this, and this is what she loves right now.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 10:52 AM
 
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My 6 yo dd has been wanting to play the violin for awhile. So she finally started lessons and of course now she is frustrated that it is hard and doesn't want to do it. She is fine at the lessons, and her group even does little concerts, which she loves. She just gets frustrated so easily and doesn't want to practice.
What size is her violin? I talked to a professional violinist once about little ones taking violin, and she said that it is very difficult to get a nice tone out of a small violin-- she recommended to absolutely wait till a child was at least big enough for a 1/2 size. So, if your dd is bothered because her violin sounds screechy, taking a year or two off so she can grow into larger violin might make all the difference in the world.

HTH!

ZM
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#4 of 20 Old 07-19-2007, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the good ideas ladies!
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#5 of 20 Old 07-20-2007, 12:15 AM
 
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What are they doing in the lessons? A 6-year-old beginner should be doing mostly fun things that aren't all that difficult... plucking games, simple rote songs, fun rhythms.

Practicing is absolutely essential, and sometimes 'encouragement' is necessary to help them learn how to stick with it... Learning an instrument does not have the immediate satisfaction of obvious improvement every day, it is harder for a young child to understand the intrinsic value of daily practice over the long term. Not until they've actually experienced it a few times, working hard on a difficult piece for a long time and eventually realizing they can now play it well -- will they be able to self-regulate the less 'fun' aspects of practice.

That being said, a 6-year-old beginner should not have any assignments for home practice that are REALLY too difficult.

I'm not a violin teacher, I'm a piano teacher, but my son took violin lessons for several years and many of the same principles apply anyway.

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 20 Old 07-20-2007, 12:16 AM
 
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If the session is ending soon, would it really be quitting?

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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#7 of 20 Old 07-20-2007, 12:52 AM
 
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Lessons at 6 might be a little early. She might be more interested in it at age 10!

I have another perspective. As a child, I dabbled in piano and flute. Never took lessons, but my mom taught me how to read music and let it go at that. SOmetimes I would play everyday, and sometimes months, even years would go by when I wasn't interested. Played flute in the middle school band, never practiced. THen, in highschool, I met another girl who wanted to play a duet. So I played it with her and something switched on. I became intensely interested in learning my instrument. I eventually took lessons at age 16, and became one of the top 5 flautists in the state (under age 18). I had fun, and won some scholarship money for college. I still love to play with others, but I nevered went on to study music after that. So I guess what I am saying is, if they don't enjoy it, don't push it. It may come later when they are ready.

THat being said, I think its high time I get a piano in my house so my kids can dabble if they want. But they won't be getting lessons at a young age.

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#8 of 20 Old 07-20-2007, 09:02 AM
 
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Just wanted to clarify -- 6 is actually considered a 'late starter' for violin lessons. Lessons for violin routinely begin at age 3 or 4. It's certainly not 'too late' at all, but it's not very young.

Especially if the child has been wanting lessons for a long time, there's no harm in starting young. Just as long as the teacher knows how to approach things with a very young child, and the child is physically able to handle the instrument. For instance, most guitar teachers won't take students under 8 or so because they just physically are not ready. And wind instruments (other than the recorder) generally aren't started until age 10, because kids don't have the lung development and capacity any younger than that.

However, there's no reason to delay lessons for instruments that can be managed, like the violin and the piano, if the child really wants them. The "ideal" starting age for piano, IMO, is 7-8, but I have routinely taught children as young as 4. Lessons for a 4yo are very different, of course, I do NOT expect the same things from them as I do from a 7yo, and I expect different things from a 7yo than from a 13yo.

However, a whole lot can be done and learned even with the very young. They can learn rhythm and about pitch and basics of notation, and it's so neat with the very young because they're not yet jaded by formal education -- every new thing is a fantastic discovery... "this is a half note, it gets 2 counts" -- "wowwww"

I give the very young students very specific practicing instructions, like "play this piece 3 times each day, naming the notes out loud" or some such thing depending on where they're at and what they need reinforcing. And I give practice games, like a colouring page where you colour in one section each time you play the thing, or paper clip chains, or even the dreaded sticker chart lol... as I said before, young kids often do need the external motivators when learning to do something where the intrinsic value is not obvious right away.

Music is a language, and learning an instrument is like learning a language. There is a 'window of opportunity' where starting later than that makes things more difficult. Teenage beginners often learn to read music more quickly, but have a much harder time with coordination and expression. Younger beginners might take longer to learn the same concepts, but end up playing with more ease and natural musicality. *In general* of course.

So while there's no great advantage to starting lessons at extremely young ages, there can be disadvantages to waiting too long as well. (Also to be considered in waiting too long, is that the child might realize that 'everyone else' in their teaching studio is younger and more advanced than they are, and get discouraged, think it's 'too hard' and quit. This depends on the personality of the student but it's a factor to be aware of.)

AS LONG AS the student really wants lessons, and AS LONG AS you have a qualified, professional teacher (there are many out there who are NOT) who has experience and knowledge with young children, there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting them have lessons. It's no different in this respect than any sport, or swimming lessons, or dance lessons, etc etc... the class has to be appropriate to the age of course.
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#9 of 20 Old 07-20-2007, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The summer session will be over next weekend, but then she could continue lessons when school starts.

The teacher is very qualified and experienced, but I think he realized he was expecting a little too much and backed down. Some of the theory stuff is just too much right now, so they are just concentrating on using the bow and hitting the right note consistently.

I believe my dd is mostly frustrated w/ the physical aspects of it - it is really hard work to hold the violin up and move the bow for more than a short bit! She is more willing to practice now, but honestly I am having a hard time finding time to do it with her. I do daycare at home so we don't really have time during the day and at the end of the day she is just too tired for it. I've got to figure out some routine that will work well.

Thanks for all the perspectives!
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#10 of 20 Old 07-22-2007, 01:43 PM
 
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Hmm. The 'usual' introduction to violin uses no bow at all for the first little while. It *is* a heck of a lot to maneuver instrument, fingers, and bow all at once for a little one. So they start with just plucking the 4 open strings, doing rhythms and music games just on the open strings.

Not that this is the only way to do it, of course, but in my experience it's the norm.

Once they're comfortable with the open strings, they start learning the notes of first position, again just with plucking. DS's first 'song' done that way was "Hot Cross Buns". It was so cute!

Then they start learning about how to use the bow, first with just some 'fun' exercises like moving the bow over all 4 strings, starting slow then getting faster and faster, back and forth until they 'explode' lol...

Anyway, glad it's starting to get better for you. The theory is the tricky thing at young ages, they can do quite a bit but it has to be properly geared to the age and done verrrrrrry gradually with lots and lots of reinforcement.

Finding a consistent time that works for you is very helpful, having a "time for violin" that's just as much a regular part of the routine as "time for bed" or "time for lunch" or "time for Blue's Clues" lol makes it at least somewhat easier. Good luck getting that sorted out, I know that was one of the hardest things for us too!

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#11 of 20 Old 07-22-2007, 01:59 PM
 
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My 5 yo plays violin as well.
She started in Oct. with a box class and got her violin for Christmas so she's been playing since this past winter.
Anyway, she's gone through times of wanting to practice all the time to not very much.

Since you described your child as enjoying group and recitals then I'd encourage her to keep with it. That said though, how can practice at home be fun? It shouldn't be a chore but instead fun...a recital for her dolls? My dd likes to learn something to surprise her Daddy with and/or her violin teacher with...and we play up how surprised they'll be becasue that thrills her!
So find what works to encourage your child and go with it. I don't bribe or reward either.
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#12 of 20 Old 07-22-2007, 07:00 PM
 
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smeta -- I don't know very much about it -- but my son (just turned 7) starte Suzuki guitar a few months ago and is having a lot of fun with it. He has not been expected to learn any theory -- he is plucking out simple songs, which is *really* gratifying to DS. Even if it sounds a little twangy and strange, its more satisfying to be able to play a line of "twinkle" than to play a random drill, kwim?

The teacher interups the lesson every 5 minutes or so to play a game -- has lots of interesting gagets and toys in his studio. Things like -- he'll have our son play a short piece and then lets him shoot of his stomp rocket twice.

DH does practice time with ds every single night at home -- they play together. Sometimes I can hear my son complaining or wanting to rush through to other more fun things, but for the most part they seem to have fun. DH follows the lead of the teacher and tries to find ways to make it fun. Things like, after DS practices for 5 mintues, DH will close his eyes, and little guy will play a note, and then DH has to guess what note it was. It delights him! Then they do another mini-practice session, and then another silly game. They limit themselves to 15 minutes a night.
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#13 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 09:06 AM
 
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Here is our experience with music lessons. My dd started violin when she was 4. She is 5.5 now. My approach may be completely wrong, but I have really lightened up about practicing. At first, I would get frustrated by her lack of interest in practicing, and have even told her that I wouldn't pay for lessons anymore if she didn't practice. Eventually, I adjusted my attitude and figured that any exposure to music is a good thing. She gets private lessons with a graduate student studying violin at one of the local universities. He has great patience with her and for being only about 23 years old, he seems to have connected with her. She is actually more likely to practice when I say Aaron wants her to than when I say that *I* want her to. Recently, they have spent very little time working with the violin; she has been learning how to read music. I really like that because no matter what, it will always be helpful to know how to read music. For that reason alone, I'd encourage her to continue

So, basically, I'm just doing what I can to reduce her level of frustration when she *is* frustrated and encouraging her when she is enthusiastic, while at the same time trying to not be frustrated myself.
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#14 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 11:32 AM
 
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The summer session will be over next weekend, but then she could continue lessons when school starts.
Does she want to continue or does she want a break?

When I was 5, my mom put me in piano lessons for a year. It didn't work out, I hated it, never practiced (when forced I just banged on the keys until she let me quit), and I seemed to learn nothing.

After I was allowed to quit lessons, I would sometimes sit down and mess around on the piano -- not much, but sometimes. When I was 11 I decided I really wanted to learn to play, begged for lessons, and started practicing 2 hours a day. I became quite good.

Even if you guys decide not to continue at this time, she may learn to be play wonderfully at a different point in her life.

She wanted this experience very much, and by providing her with it you have taught her that dreams should be explored. (I believe this is one of the most important things we can teach our kids.)

She may have learned everything that she wants to know about playing the voilin, and the experience will give her a greater ability to enjoy other people playing because of being able to appreciate it more.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#15 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 12:10 PM
 
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I took piano lessons when I was pretty young, maybe 5 or 6 years old. It was ok. I learned a lot, but I didn't love it. I did learn how to read music, which was really helpful later on with other instruments. But then in high school, I started piano again with a different teacher. Instead of following the pre-set program, each week she picked a piece and I picked a piece. I got to play what I wanted to (schlocky 80s pop music), but also what she wanted me to (stuff I now really like by Bach). The second teacher was also much much younger and cooler. The point is, the teacher makes a huge difference. When I dropped piano at the age of 6, I think I could have had fun if I had continued with a different teacher.

Sarah
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#16 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 12:13 PM
 
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Just wanted to clarify -- 6 is actually considered a 'late starter' for violin lessons. Lessons for violin routinely begin at age 3 or 4. It's certainly not 'too late' at all, but it's not very young.
Really? 6 is a "late starter"? When did this happen? My experience growing up was that, unless the family opts for the suzuki method, whichis designed to begin with preschoolers, string instruments are typically introduced around 3rd grade.

I have fairly bright kids who are 6 and 5, and they just aren't ready for serious music instruction-- we have instruments around the house for them to dabble with, but I can't see making the investment of time and money violin lessons would entail at this point. I have been encouraged to hold off on formal lessons by a couple of experienced musicians and teachers (as a general rule, not because my kids are little terrors )

How sad that the "typical" door for this closes so early in your area.

ZM
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#17 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 12:22 PM
 
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What does your dd want?

I'd take the end of summer and start of fall as a place to decide is she is done with it for now or if she wants to learn more with her violin. Ask her if she wants to keep going with it, why or why not.
Adjustments could be made to make playing violin at home more fun...or she may want to know she has the freedom and control to go her own pace...even if that means stopping.

Best wishes!!!
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#18 of 20 Old 07-23-2007, 04:13 PM
 
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Really? 6 is a "late starter"? When did this happen?
[snip]
How sad that the "typical" door for this closes so early in your area.

ZM
My dd's teacher (not suzuki method) said the same thing... that for violin, starting after 4 or 5 is considered a late start on that instrument. I don't know about other instruments.
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#19 of 20 Old 03-28-2014, 05:17 AM
 
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One thing that helped my kids get really comfortable with their instrument and practicing in general, was seeing me do the same. I took piano lessons and guitar lessons as a child but picked up a new instrument at the same time my daughter started banjo and my son started bass guitar. I picked the mandolin and it is tough. Same tuning as the violin. My children have learned their instruments much faster than I have, and since they love to show up mom, it made them work harder. We became competitive, but the best part is that we know enough songs now to have our own jam sessions in the evening and on weekends. don't know if its practical for you to learn something, but maybe learning to play some simple guitar chords, you could accompany her when she plays. Then she could see how you handle your own frustrations with an instrument.  2 beginner musicians can sound pretty good together.

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#20 of 20 Old 03-31-2014, 01:24 PM
 
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my child started violin at 6, and with the bow from the first lesson on. The teacher was very qualified, but I think better for older kids. The first year was the hardest year, we switched teachers the next year, to a different very qualified teacher and the fit was much better.  It is a process the first year to figure how it all works into your life. I agree with other posters, what makes it much easier:

 

practice same time everyday so it is part of your routine.

 

I stayed with my child and helped with practice for the first 2 years, then after only occasionally. They will absolutely will not practice if you don't keep track of this. My son now at 10, will skip things, or not practice as long as he should, or do it really fast and badly so I keep in ear shot  most of the time so I know what he is doing

 

practice everyday, except lesson day, and  there are times we do miss when really busy, but it shows!!  As soon as you get out of the practicing habit for a couple of days it is a fight to get back into it again. Also I found if we miss practice the day after the lesson, it really sets him back. That first day of practice after the lesson is critical to not forgetting anything new that week.

 

I have been know to bribe at times.

 

one of my children did Suzuki paino at age 4 and it was like pulling teeth for practice. very difficult, so after that year we stopped, and started again at age 7 with traditional lessons. I remember our suzuki teacher encouraged bribery for practice in this way: we would set up a path on a sheet of paper, with dots for paths, and after x number of dots there would be a small prize, the last dot a bigger prize. she stressed to not make all the prizes things that cost money, so we did things like, special play time with mom or an outing, get to cook supper with mom, make dessert, watch a movie, sometimes physical prizes or a candy treat. Make it very easy to achieve at the start, then harder'/longer as you go. 

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