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For those that don't consider music lessons optional...do you ever GIVE UP (violin)?!


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Hoping some of you (that generally require your dc to study an instrument) can give me some insight, advice, words of wisdom, something! I feel like studying music is an important part of my dc's education, and I don't really look at music lessons as something they can choose not to do (at least for some period). We haven't done that much, but it's something I want for them. Sorry this is kind of long!

 

Anyway, here is the situation I could use advice about: ds6 began Suzuki violin last June. He never loved it, but liked it ok at first. As soon as it began to get hard for him, he really disliked it. It IS hard for him. In the group lesson I can tell that other kids the same age (although playing a few months longer) just pick up new songs much more quickly. It takes him a few weeks and a lot of practice to learn the notes of a couple lines of a simple song. He just began the first song after the Twinkle Variations (Lightly Row). He really enjoys his group lesson, and also likes his regular lesson. He and I both like his teacher. But he HATES practicing, and doesn't like the idea of playing the violin at all. He says things all the time like, "I hate the violin", 'I wish I'd never said I would play the violin", etc. He doesn't seem to notice that it is taking him longer to learn songs than the other kids, so that isn't the problem. I don't think the slow progress in general is apparent to him.

 

I have dropped our practice time to about 15 minutes/day (from 30+ before Christmas) to make it more bearable for both of us! Of course I try to make the lesson positive, have him feel some success, especially as we're ending it. And try to be patient. Inevitably he makes me angry with his disrespectful behavior, his stomping around, or his maddening stalling techniques (as he's got his violin up ready to play, he'll decide he needs to run get some rosin, etc.!).

 

Yes, I could probably do some things to make practice more fun (I have a game I need to put together), but I don't even think that will change things that much. He just isn't motivated at all. He doesn't care if he is progressing, other than that a frustrating hurdle has been crossed and it's more a relief that it's behind him rather than having much of a sense of accomplishment. He often has a nasty attitude when we practice. He will intentionally position the violin incorrectly (trying to get my goat, which of course he usually does), or take his SWEET time getting it out of the case, etc. If he gets frustrated, he'll often cry and carry on, and then I can't get him to focus and he'll bounce the bow on the strings when I tell him to try again. To make it worse, he is my child who is generally well-behaved, but who is very difficult to deal with when he's being rude. With my other two, things like time-out, losing priveleges, etc. work. With this guy, none of those types of things have worked to change behavior. He doesn't care about most consequences and the only thing that ever works is quietly removing him and ignoring the behavior. Which is very hard to do when I'm trying to complete a music lesson with him. We do it before school, so we don't have time for that nonsense. I tried after school and evenings, but he is much more cooperative and willing in the morning first thing.

 

Anyway, I'm just not sure that the positives of learning an instrument are outweighing the negatives (of both of us being miserable during practice, and really feeling like this is beginning to define our relationship which I hate!). I started out thinking I wanted him to do this through 8th grade, then it was through 4th grade, then 1st, and now I'm thinking maybe just until the end of May!!! AAAAGGGGHHH!!! I hate to give up, and am wondering what others have done in a similar situation or what you would suggest. I want him to enjoy music and to enjoy practicing. We do go to concerts and he enjoys that. But it is beginning to feel counter-productive when he gets absolutely no enjoyment out of practicing. I think it will be hard to turn him around on that - he's got it stuck in his head that he hates it. I do give him a dime for each good practice, and that motivates him a bit. But that is the only thing he likes about practice, which seems wrong! Thanks for any advice. I am so bummed out about this.

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I think violin might not be his instrument. Have you considered another?

 

I started all of my dds out on piano (also Suzuki). One of them said, "No, I want to play the violin." I told her we had a piano, but no violin. She insisted. I told her she had to take piano lessons for a year, and if she still wanted to play the violin after that, she could switch.

 

She did, and she's still playing the violin 7 years later. My other two are still playing piano.

 

Maybe tell him playing an instrument isn't optional, but which one is. Bring him to see an orchestra, bring him down to the pit and take a look. Listen to different instruments on CD. See what he's drawn to.

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I think violin might not be his instrument. Have you considered another?.

 

Well, I have thought of that, and maybe I should consider it. I expect that he'll still struggle since he just doesn't have a great ear (the teacher has very nicely said that we just need to work on developing it since it doesn't come as naturally to him), and rhythms seem harder for him at first, etc. When the teacher shows the other kids what notes to play, they can follow more easily (although he is one of the youngest and newest students). I think piano might be the same. So it might be easier than violin, but I still expect struggles and then resistance.

 

But I guess it would be a way to continue music and maybe a bit easier than violin. My mom is teaching my other ds piano and he loves it. Low pressure, too! I don't care that he isn't learning as much as he might with another teacher because he feels very successful and proud of himself and never complains about practicing! You've got me thinking now...! I suppose we could finish out the year with violin, take a break for the summer, and then see if my mom would be interested in teaching him piano (free, and low pressure!).

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My dh was finally allowed to quit music by his mother, when after speaking to his instructor who told her that it did not matter how much dh practiced, he would never be "good." He played for 3 years, although he didn't complain about practicing.

 

My son (who actually can play music), just derives no enjoyment from *any* activity until he gets it. He doesn't like to struggle through things, but knowing this about him, and the fact that he is now 12, we can get over those humps together. It's still not fun, but he has enough memories of things he now enjoys that he didn't at the beginning while he was learning to help him see that hard work pays off.

 

He is now playing basketball for the first time, and working hard at it without complaining about the fact that he can't really shoot, pass, or dribble. That is progress :D

 

Violin may not be his instrument. He may be like my dh and not be wired for music at. all., or he may be like my son who has to learn to push through before he can actually enjoy it. Reducing his practice time will not help him learn the songs any faster, if it's #3, and yes... practice time is miserable until he can see the progress for himself. At that age, my son would say he hated piano....it was like that for almost a year. We were somewhere towards the end of the first book, and he was talking about how difficult the song was, and how hard it was, and that he couldn't do it, etc., etc. So, I took him back to the first song and asked him to play that. He told me it was easy. I looked at him and said, "no, you learned how to play it, and THEN it became easy. Before you learned, you said the same thing about that song." It clicked, and he enjoyed piano from thereon out. Now, he's teaching himself guitar.:001_smile:

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Another thing to consider...

 

I know there is controversy among teachers (and parents) in this area, but for most kids I don't believe in starting young. I teach piano, and I find the 6 yos struggle--with hand size and strength, focus, and maturity issues. I'm not saying no child should start at 6, just that I think many shouldn't. I find 7 or even 8 to be a much better starting age.

 

Mind you, I do believe in music instruction before then, but not based on the study of a single instrument. Formally or informally, it's good for children to do rhythmic play, singing, movement, listening exercises, musical exposure, simple theory games, and so on, during their younger years. This can go a long way toward providing a firm foundation for the study of an instrument later, as well as facilitate joy in music. It is a perfectly legitimate option at age 6.

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Another thing to consider...

 

I know there is controversy among teachers (and parents) in this area, but for most kids I don't believe in starting young. I teach piano, and I find the 6 yos struggle--with hand size and strength, focus, and maturity issues. I'm not saying no child should start at 6, just that I think many shouldn't. I find 7 or even 8 to be a much better starting age.

 

Mind you, I do believe in music instruction before then, but not based on the study of a single instrument. Formally or informally, it's good for children to do rhythmic play, singing, movement, listening exercises, musical exposure, simple theory games, and so on, during their younger years. This can go a long way toward providing a firm foundation for the study of an instrument later, as well as facilitate joy in music. It is a perfectly legitimate option at age 6.

 

+1

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Oldest DD played flute for three years (two in band, one with private lessons). Even though she was very good, she just didn't enjoy it. We let her quit, and now she is in a girls' choir, which she enjoys very much. I think if they've given it a good try (and I think 2-3 years is a decent amount of time to try out an instrument) that they should be free to move on to something else if they want.

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I gave each of my kids their choice of instrument so I have one on drums, one on guitar, and another on violin (and just starting piano). I think when kids have a choice they are more engaged from the onset. Do you listen to lots of different types of music at home? Let him hear many different instruments so he can pick one that appeals to him.

 

Maybe violin just isn't his instrument or maybe he just isn't ready to start formal lessons. Is there a music store nearby where he could check out other instrument options? Or is there a local class like Music Together or something similar where he could just learn about music without single instrument study?

 

If you do decide to continue trying with violin, listening to the CD often and singing along to the pieces may help him to "get them in his head." Also, making everything about practice fun and a game may help. Practice at 6yo should not be drudgery if the child is just starting. Breaking things down and doing repetitions for pennies or M&Ms or some other little treat might help or playing for stuffed animals or some other little game...There is a book called "Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making It Easier" by Edmund Sprunger that is just full of ideas for making music practice fun and engaging for children.

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When d/d began the viola, it was not a delightful time for any of us, and she was 9. String instruments are not quickly gratifying to a new student.

 

I agree with starting piano. Your son is likely to progress more quickly into actual songs than he will with violin, and it will definitely help him develop his timing and his musical ear. My kids play a lot of different instruments, but all love piano.

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I gave each of my kids their choice of instrument so I have one on drums, one on guitar, and another on violin (and just starting piano). I think when kids have a choice they are more engaged from the onset. Do you listen to lots of different types of music at home? Let him hear many different instruments so he can pick one that appeals to him.

 

Maybe violin just isn't his instrument or maybe he just isn't ready to start formal lessons. Is there a music store nearby where he could check out other instrument options? Or is there a local class like Music Together or something similar where he could just learn about music without single instrument study?

 

If you do decide to continue trying with violin, listening to the CD often and singing along to the pieces may help him to "get them in his head." Also, making everything about practice fun and a game may help. Practice at 6yo should not be drudgery if the child is just starting. Breaking things down and doing repetitions for pennies or M&Ms or some other little treat might help or playing for stuffed animals or some other little game...There is a book called "Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making It Easier" by Edmund Sprunger that is just full of ideas for making music practice fun and engaging for children.

 

Thank you - that book has been on my list and I'm going to order it TODAY! I'd forgotten about that lately. Yes, we do listen to the CD a lot, and he seems to like it. And luckily brothers haven't gotten sick of it yet. I'm just waiting for someone to say, "Quit playing that darn CD day and night"!

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I don't make my kids take lessons on an instrument. The reason for this is that I was forced by my mother to take piano lessons for 7 years, because SHE always wanted to have piano lessons. One day, I said to her, "Why don't you just take lessons yourself?" So, she signed up for lessons, took them for 3 months, decided it was too hard, and we all got to quit- her, me and my 2 sisters.

 

I have no real musical talent. I love listening to music of all kinds, and appreciate that I understand some music theory, but I can't play the piano to save my life after 7 years of lessons. It's just not for some people. I played trombone in band in junior high, also. Just not talented musically.

 

Now, I have asked my kids if they want to learn an instrument, but they both said no. I will occasionally ask again, because if they want to learn something, I will certainly let them. We are learning music theory by learning on the recorder, which they seem to be enjoying. I think music instruction is important, but not to the point where it becomes drudgery and burdensome.

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Thank you - that book has been on my list and I'm going to order it TODAY! I'd forgotten about that lately. Yes, we do listen to the CD a lot, and he seems to like it. And luckily brothers haven't gotten sick of it yet. I'm just waiting for someone to say, "Quit playing that darn CD day and night"!

 

This if you decide to stick with violin a little longer! I personally think 7-8 months and early book 1 is not really enough time. I took 7 years of violin growing up and my daughter takes violin now. I found early book 1 the most difficult stretch of it by far. There's much more to learn than just a piece of music. It's about learning a practice habit, learning to listen, learning to work with a teacher, getting new small motor skills, etc etc etc.

 

I'd make sure you'd get to the instrument every day and personally, I think 10-15 minutes is fine. But listening to the music can make a HUGE difference. Words to the music were important at that stage too.

 

My daughter would have easily quit at that stage, but now she got through and she enjoys it more than she doesn't (although I wouldn't say it's a burning passion for her).

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It's also possible that he's not a Suzuki kid. Suzuki can be great for many children, but even though I love it, by age 2 1/2, it was obvious that many of the things that make it successful were going to drive my DD insane. And I was TEACHING at a Suzuki school at the time. She's now 7 and happily studying piano using a traditional method series, and doing beautifully.

 

It may well be that a different method or a different teacher is needed, as much or more than a different instrument.

 

For practice, my favorite book is "Get your kids to practice without resorting to violence". Shar sells it, as do most other Suzuki vendors.

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We switched Indy from violin (lessons for little over a year) to piano recently and it's going....okay. Unfortunately, I just don't think he's musical. This, BTW, kills James Bond as he comes from a very musically talented family and studied music in college.

Violin is HARD. He wants to play it (this was his instrument of choice), but I think he needs a better background in music as it's difficult for him to try to learn how to read music and learn the proper fingering at the same time. It's difficult to look between the two. With piano, he only has to glance down to see if he's in the right spot, but can mostly keep his eyes on the sheet music. James Bond is doing his piano lessons. Much cheaper than paying for violin.:D

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If his ear needs training, get him somewhere he can sing. At six, he should not be in private voice lessons, but a children's choir or a musical theayre class may help him a lot.

 

Started piano at 6, we had a rented piano, I never practiced. My mom cancelled the lessons and sent the piano back. I followed the piano out of the house and cried as it left. 2 years later, we started again, we bought a piano and I did practice, a lot. Part of it was agr and part was desire to keep the piano.

 

I struggled, piano was never easy for me. I practiced and did well until the day my sister, who had never had a lesson, sat down and played my recital piece by ear. I had worked months to get it and she played it on her first try. I lost all motivation and focused on dance.

 

I sing, I have a great understanding of music and music theory from dance, choir, and voice. Music training does not have to be on an instrument if it is not working.

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My ds didn't hate violin as much as yours, but he didn't love it. Suzuki gets much worse as time goes on in terms of being demanding about camps, performances, group lessons, etc, etc, etc. It's like Suzuki is supposed to be your life.

 

I also couldn't stand the violin practices. I got really tired of the "Mississippi Watermelon" etc. type screeching. I made him stick with it for a few years, but then I had had it from the pressure from the teacher to do more and more outside stuff.

 

He switched to another instrument of his choosing and is now a music major.

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I allowed my youngest to switch from violin (his choice) to piano after one year. After three years with various crappy teachers, we found THE teacher 15 months ago and he has progressed two full books during that time. He also started another instrument.

 

I don't think 30 minutes of daily practice is realistic for many American 6 year olds. I used to teach Suzuki parent training classes. It is far more important to establish a habit of daily practice than to practice for a certain amount of time. I was careful to stop BEFORE the child asked to. 5 minutes of sustained attention is far better practice than 30 minutes of fighting. Make sure, for awhile, that you stop when the child is still happy and enjoying himself. AND make sure he practices daily. Since it sounds like you're in a bad cycle, offer treats before and after each practice.

 

Make sure he is listening a lot to the pieces.

 

At the age of 10, my youngest is firmly in the habit of daily practice. He is very self-motivated and making very rapid progress on the viola, his second chosen instrument. Early establishment of pleasure, fun, and habit should be your goals.

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He wants to play it (this was his instrument of choice), but I think he needs a better background in music as it's difficult for him to try to learn how to read music and learn the proper fingering at the same time. It's difficult to look between the two. With piano, he only has to glance down to see if he's in the right spot, but can mostly keep his eyes on the sheet music. James Bond is doing his piano lessons. Much cheaper than paying for violin.:D

 

There are so many things for a beginner violinist to think about, I can't imagine trying to have a child learn how to play while also learning how to read music. The times where my beginners were using a book (like for Christmas songs) I found their posture went out the window. It's very difficult to concentrate on both. All of my boys had 2 - 3 years of lessons without using music before they began playing with their books. That's not to say they didn't learn to read - in fact they learned to read music during that time, but that was separate from learning new pieces. Both my older boys read fluently now and learn new pieces using their music (and my younger guy is coming along well with music reading), but we focused on good posture, bow hold and left hand position, beautiful tone, and playing musically before we worried too much about note reading.

 

For the OP - I wouldn't quit at age 6, but I would totally change how we practiced. Our Suzuki groups have had parent meetings in the past where we've shared games that we've made and other fun strategies for making practice time an enjoyable time for us. We had an experienced Suzuki mom (whose kids were all older by then) come and share her strategies for practicing made fun that she used when her kids were little.

 

I find that reading Suzuki books (To Learn with Love, You're Never Too Old and Never Too Young to Twinkle, etc.) helps with my motivation and helps me realize what is really important and what isn't (learning new notes and bowings).

 

My oldest is the one who asked to play violin, but he really struggled learning new pieces. He had been playing for 18 months before he could finally play Lightly Row. I think we spent 4 years in book 1. And he was 4.5 when we started, it's not like he was 2. Anyway, he has grown into an incredible musician and he loves playing - he doesn't always love practicing (in fact he still sometimes throws himself on the floor and says he hates practicing), but he loves his music; and it shows. His orchestra was invited to play with our local symphony orchestra last month and that was an amazing experience for him. He's also part of a trio and he is loving it.

 

If I had known when we first began how difficult it really was going to be, I never would have put them in strings. But, now that we've experienced the results of all those years of hard work I'm so glad we all persevered.

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I agree that maybe the violin isn't the most suitable instrument. A book that I simply cannot recommend enough is The Right Instrument for Your Child. http://www.amazon.com/Right-Instrument-Your-Child/dp/0297850652/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328544635&sr=8-1 It helps you examine your child's mental, physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses and helps you find an instrument that fits your child. I have a very old copy but I imagine the newer editions are just as good.

 

Emma x

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If I had known when we first began how difficult it really was going to be, I never would have put them in strings. But, now that we've experienced the results of all those years of hard work I'm so glad we all persevered.

 

:iagree: Great post! I think the initial stretch is hard for the parent too. You need to carry all the enthusiasm and work to make practices a fun time for both of you. I used puppets, pennies for repetitions or beads, danced while she played and did all sorts of silly antics to get through that initial stretch. I don't think Suzuki will work for every kid/family. Early days are hard, hard work for the parent if you start young with most kids. (My older has done Suzuki piano for 6 years, younger has done violin for 3). 4 years in book 1 is not at all unusual for kids in our large music program. My daughter did it in 2, which was well ahead of the curb for that program (I know some programs/teachers push through generally faster. Ours is pretty slow moving through that initial stage.).

 

I also agree with whoever said just get to the instrument, even for 5 minutes. It's much more about building a habit to come back to something over and over.

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My kids will all take piano lessons until 5th grade at which point I'll let them explore other instruments. Piano is non-negotiable. I don't care how fast or slow they progress. Since I teach them in my home they don't have anyone to compare themselves to other than each other. DS1 really wants to learn drums or guitar, but piano will be his first priority until he's older. He's easily frustrated so I want those frustrations dealt with someplace safe and comfortable so he doesn't dread music. I chose piano over other instruments because I really feel like its a more practical skill in the long run for our family.

 

That said - it really sounds like that violin is making both of you miserable. If I had a child that hated something that much I'd probably find an alternative.

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My dd7 started piano last year when she was five with the Music for Young Children program. I would recommend it to anyone looking for music lessons for kids - they do piano, rhythm ensemble, singing, and some theory and composition in a very kid friendly way. They also are big on getting a habit of short practices started at the beginning.

 

Even so, I noticed that in the five year old and four year old group, a lot of kids were not so much ready for playing - they didn`t seem to have the ability to keep a rhythm or the coordination.

 

I think dance lessons can be a really great way to tune kids into music though - some kids really need that full body experience to start to relate to music.

 

For us, we plan to do the whole MYC program at which point dd will be at a grade 1 piano level, and then she can choose to carry on, switch instruments, or quit and just do singing and music appreciation. I would like to do something similar with my other kids, but if they really struggled I would be open to other things.

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There are so many things for a beginner violinist to think about, I can't imagine trying to have a child learn how to play while also learning how to read music. The times where my beginners were using a book (like for Christmas songs) I found their posture went out the window. It's very difficult to concentrate on both. All of my boys had 2 - 3 years of lessons without using music before they began playing with their books. That's not to say they didn't learn to read - in fact they learned to read music during that time, but that was separate from learning new pieces. Both my older boys read fluently now and learn new pieces using their music (and my younger guy is coming along well with music reading), but we focused on good posture, bow hold and left hand position, beautiful tone, and playing musically before we worried too much about note reading.

 

For the OP - I wouldn't quit at age 6, but I would totally change how we practiced. Our Suzuki groups have had parent meetings in the past where we've shared games that we've made and other fun strategies for making practice time an enjoyable time for us. We had an experienced Suzuki mom (whose kids were all older by then) come and share her strategies for practicing made fun that she used when her kids were little.

 

I find that reading Suzuki books (To Learn with Love, You're Never Too Old and Never Too Young to Twinkle, etc.) helps with my motivation and helps me realize what is really important and what isn't (learning new notes and bowings).

 

My oldest is the one who asked to play violin, but he really struggled learning new pieces. He had been playing for 18 months before he could finally play Lightly Row. I think we spent 4 years in book 1. And he was 4.5 when we started, it's not like he was 2. Anyway, he has grown into an incredible musician and he loves playing - he doesn't always love practicing (in fact he still sometimes throws himself on the floor and says he hates practicing), but he loves his music; and it shows. His orchestra was invited to play with our local symphony orchestra last month and that was an amazing experience for him. He's also part of a trio and he is loving it.

 

If I had known when we first began how difficult it really was going to be, I never would have put them in strings. But, now that we've experienced the results of all those years of hard work I'm so glad we all persevered.

 

This is very helpful and motivating - thank you so very much. Yes, I just read that first Suzuki book. I'm thinking if he could teach thousands of kids to play, even a blind child, surely he came across plenty that didn't have a good ear for music or that were SOMEWHAT resistant and challenging! I have not been to any camps or anything, but plan to attend our first workshop in a few weeks. Hope to get some encouragement there.

 

And we've only been in it 9 months or so, but I can totally see what you mean about if you'd known how difficult it would be. I suppose it is like anything - often the harder the task, the more rewarding the outcome. Just hope my little guy someday feels that way! We won't do this forever, but I sure would like to give it at least a couple more years.

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Thank you all for taking the time to help me sort this out! So many great responses I am going to read several times. Lots to think about. I like the idea of having him involved in dancing and maybe singing. If I could do it all over again, I think it might have been good to have had him in the types of general music classes for kids that some of you have recommended. I never really thought much about those - I guess I thought they sounded a bit too extracurricular for me. But now I see that they could be very valuable with teaching a child the basics of music ESPECIALLY before starting to learn an instrument. Too bad he's my last and I'm just now figuring this out!

 

I'm so excited to read over this again in a bit. THANK YOU! You ladies are wonderful and a huge help. And great inspiration when I needed it!

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Another thing to consider...

 

I know there is controversy among teachers (and parents) in this area, but for most kids I don't believe in starting young. I teach piano, and I find the 6 yos struggle--with hand size and strength, focus, and maturity issues. I'm not saying no child should start at 6, just that I think many shouldn't. I find 7 or even 8 to be a much better starting age.

 

Mind you, I do believe in music instruction before then, but not based on the study of a single instrument. Formally or informally, it's good for children to do rhythmic play, singing, movement, listening exercises, musical exposure, simple theory games, and so on, during their younger years. This can go a long way toward providing a firm foundation for the study of an instrument later, as well as facilitate joy in music. It is a perfectly legitimate option at age 6.

:iagree:

 

 

I don't think 30 minutes of daily practice is realistic for many American 6 year olds. I used to teach Suzuki parent training classes. It is far more important to establish a habit of daily practice than to practice for a certain amount of time. I was careful to stop BEFORE the child asked to. 5 minutes of sustained attention is far better practice than 30 minutes of fighting. Make sure, for awhile, that you stop when the child is still happy and enjoying himself. AND make sure he practices daily. Since it sounds like you're in a bad cycle, offer treats before and after each practice.

 

:iagree:I started viola in 6th grade (age 12) and they only expected 20 minutes a day. It was apparent in class that no one else was doing even that.

 

It's also possible that he's not a Suzuki kid. Suzuki can be great for many children, but even though I love it, by age 2 1/2, it was obvious that many of the things that make it successful were going to drive my DD insane. And I was TEACHING at a Suzuki school at the time. She's now 7 and happily studying piano using a traditional method series, and doing beautifully.

 

It may well be that a different method or a different teacher is needed, as much or more than a different instrument.

 

One dc can listen to a piece of music and hum it right back. She can listen to music once and play it. She has perfect pitch, a great sense of rhythm and a good memory. Twinkle, in all it's variations, was boring but doable. I, OTOH, cannot carry a tune, or even tell if a note is too high or too low. Reading the music is the only way I can hope to play anything. Suzuki drives me nuts!

 

I got really tired of the "Mississippi Watermelon" etc. type screeching.

 

This. Then a string broke. I had an epiphany. I went out and bought a better bow and different strings. The guy at the music store can help guide you toward strings that have the sound you like. I found a darker sound on gut (or fake gut) strings much less obnoxious to listen to than banjo-sounding metal strings. YMMV.

 

The student will practice more if it sounds better too.

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Hoping some of you (that generally require your dc to study an instrument) can give me some insight, advice, words of wisdom, something! I feel like studying music is an important part of my dc's education, and I don't really look at music lessons as something they can choose not to do (at least for some period). We haven't done that much, but it's something I want for them. Sorry this is kind of long!

 

Maybe violin is not for him. I required my kids to take a full year of piano and then they have to take music of some variety. Middle dd is still taking piano. Oldest is taking guitar. She switched this year from acoustic to electric but now says acoustic is better. Youngest switched from piano to trumpet. his teacher said his mouth wasn't right and we switched him to clarinet.

 

Oldest will be a senior in high school next year. We've already told her she can choose to take guitar next year or not. I think she will choose not. She'll have more time for classes and a job. No job now because her availability is low.

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My sil was very "children will take music lessons". She had one son she was excruciatingly patient with. He constantly changed instruments, as he'd try one and end up not really liking it. then . . . he tried cello . . . . he majored in music.

 

if violin isn't working, try something else.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I always thought music lessons were to find the few who really have a feel for it, and develop their talents. Many will reach a "middling" level and not care to go further. What you may have is a student who can play and often fairly well, but is not gifted in this area. Let them move on to other pursuits. bk

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I think the best way to make kids hate music is to force them to play. I am not musical, and years of piano lessons and band (three different instruments) did nothing to change that. I recently heard a news story about a specific learning disability that, among other things, makes learning music nearly impossible. I wonder if that is me, but it doesn't really matter. I go out of my way to avoid anything that requires me to be musical because years of forced musicality that I hated and was bad at has made me hate being musical in any way.

 

I think trying to instill a love of music by forcing kids, against their will, to be musical, is counterproductive. Listen to your son. He says he hates the violin and is sorry he ever said he wanted to play.

 

Tara

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yeah, i would say give the old college try at other instruments. my son is playing cello and while he is really surprisingly good at it, way better than i was ever at anything, he HATES it. he wants to play guitar more than anything. he is 7 1/2. next year i will still have him take music classes at his enrichment program, as he is doing with cello, but he can take guitar or anything else too. I try to tell him for this year, all of the learning he is doing will transfer to guitar easily, that the finger movements across strings will pay off!

 

good luck!

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I have three very musical teens. All started in 5th grade, but only one of them loves the instrument they started on. The one who started on a brass instrument never liked it but kept with it so he could remain in the public school band program. (What he loves is guitar and bass guitar.) The one who started on percussion likes it well enough, but what he really loves is arranging and composing and putzing around on the piano.

 

None of them had any early formal musical training, yet they've all found instruments and musical activities they love. The youngest is very advanced on her instrument--she picked it up and blew a beautiful sound from the start and over the next two months covered the same ground most beginners do in two year's time. Today for her age she's at or close to the top player on her instrument in our region. I don't think starting earlier would have helped her, and in fact may have tanked the whole process since I suspect developmentally and emotionally she wouldn't have been ready earlier. What was important was finding the right instrument match, having teachers and adults in her life that would allow her to advance at her own pace and not be held back by peers, and loads of home support.

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Music lessons are mandatory here - piano lessons until they leave home (Mwaaahahahaaaaa :D). Other instruments are strongly encouraged, but we think it's OK to try something for a while and if it's just not working, we try something else. We also sing together as a family quite a bit.

 

My 13yodd tried for 3 years to play violin. It just didn't click with her. She struggled with note reading, coordination, etc. She began to hint that she'd like to try flute (although she was hesitant to give up violin since I am a violinist and she didn't want to disappoint me). Finally we rented a flute for her and she took off with it - she can read the music and loves it. Dh was the same way with violin when he was a child - just struggled with the coordination of a staff of music and 4 strings. When he picked up a saxophone, it's more "linear" nature made sense to him.

 

You might also just give ds a break for a year or two. Help him enjoy music in other ways - singing, listening, dancing, clapping, etc. Maybe after a time something will inspire him to try an instrument again.

Edited by Susan in TN
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My kids will all take piano lessons until 5th grade at which point I'll let them explore other instruments. Piano is non-negotiable. I don't care how fast or slow they progress.

 

This is exactly what we are doing. I think the minimum we will ask that all children do at least 2-3 years of piano before switching to another instrument.

 

That being said, I think you need to focus on what is right for your family. However, I would worry that "rewarding" your son at this point by stopping the violin might signal to him that if he pushes you hard enough that you will relent. I would make the switch (if that is what you intend) on your terms.

 

Good luck!

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Have you thought of switching him to traditional lessons? I have two playing the violin (6 and 8) and they started with a Suzuki teacher but with a traditional method. They started two years ago and were ambivalent about the violin. The teacher was having a baby and had to quit the school where they were going. So now my two younger ones are learning with a Russian teacher. One reason they were ambivalent was that they didn't like their fingers on the small violins. The Russian teacher said their violins were too small and she switched them to 1/2 and 3/4 sizes and now they are enjoying playing. She has them in adult books learning scales and positions and they love it.

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As a musician myself I feel that young children should be introduced to music in a fun, low stress way. Learn the notes and what they sound like, beat out rhythms, plink things out on a piano, play a recorder, make up silly songs with words, borrow cds from the library and discover all of the many kinds of music, make music from various objects, make some instruments, sing too.

 

We want them to want more. :D Music is wonderful, but learning to play an instrument is even more wonderful, but it can be stressful...talk to him. See what his thoughts are besides, "I don't want to play". :grouphug:

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Thank you again all so much for your input. Things are going much better with practice right now. The main problem was that I felt that the teacher had expectations we had to meet (which were sometimes probably beyond his abilities) and so I felt pressure (probably imagined) and didn't have time for him to mess around during practice, he felt the stress, etc. So after speaking with the teacher and my husband (who said no more practices like this!), and knowing that the teacher understands that we are practicing faithfully and that we might not meet the weekly goals...I'm much more at ease and relaxed with him. I've made a game that we play now that he thinks is a lot of fun, and his 12yo brother even wants to come see what it's all about (which ds6 thinks is awesome, of course).

 

So I'm keeping it as stress-free as possible and hoping to make it fun for him again. We'll see how it goes. I decided if it becomes horrible again, I just don't think it's good for either of us or our family. Keeping my fingers crossed and trying to enjoy!

 

THANKS! I appreciated every response I got here. They were very helpful in helping me figure this out...and calm down!

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