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Teaching to kids
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Jauniba
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September 9, 2011 - 8:40 am
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I posted that video of my second grader under the progress section, and I want to comment, but I want to do it separately because I want to show him that video and the comments and I don't want him to read this.

Let me tell you, teaching him to play the violin is sooooo hard for me!

I started him off just before he turned 5, I think, in a group Suzuki class.  He would just....shut down. He would stare blankly, let his arms become like cooked spaghetti. Meanwhile, there were two other kids in the class, one little girl who tried fairly hard but was holding the violin upside down half the time while her mom snapped pictures and clapped in delight, and an Asian boy who was the same age, but looked about 2, and ripped through Suzuki book one in about 6 months and made me ill each week with his astonishing progress. Then the teacher would spend most of her time with him because, obviously, he was her star.

So we switched teachers.

We went to a traditional teacher who taught him to read music, but let his hand positions fall by the wayside.

Now we are back to a Suzuki/traditional approach mix, with what I hope is the right teacher who is trying to sort through his hands - and by that I mean his left hand - his thumb was parallel to the neck before.  (amazingly on the videos I have not noticed any adult beginners doing that - it seems so common with kids....I know my teacher used to threaten to glue a thumbtack under my violin neck).

So anyway, how do I get him to care? I decided that not taking the violin is not an option, and you may be thinking that's a mistake, but how many adults are there who ask their parents, "mom, I so wish I still played the piano, why did you let me quit?" and they say, "well, you wanted to, so I let you." I'm just not giving them this choice. Of course they want to quit! (by the way the amazing Asian kid quit before he turned five).

Fiddlerman, did you start out as a kid? Did you want to play? Did your parents play an active role in it? Anyone?...help! He was very excited when I told him there were comments about his video, and we will read them tonight. Thanks again. I know this is a forum for willing and enthusiastic adult beginners and not stoic children but I appreciate the insight...

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SaraO
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OK, just my 2 cents.

 

My daughter is just beginning violin class (not private lessons). She just turned eight years old and expressed interest over the summer in learning to play the violin. I told her we were making a commitment to learn and practice the violin for this school year. If she hates it next month, we will continue because we have made a commitment. If she hates it in June we will quit (for now). I would love her to love violin, but if she does not have a passion for it I won't force it on her.

I played as a kid for many years. I played because I enjoyed it, although I didn't practice much. When college came around I had other things to fill my time and I set it aside. Now I have a renewed interest in violin, and I have  stronger drive to accomplish goals and practice than I did as a kid/teen. I am not disappointed that I didn't continue lessons as a young adult.

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Jauniba
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If I let it up to them, they would both quit. They don't have a passion for anything except maybe Hello Kitty and anything related to the Titanic. And 3 months from now, it will be something else. We recently got a piano. The kids were super excited about it, both begging to quit violin to play the piano. Instead, after six months or so, we started very short piano lessons at the end of the violin lessons, just to get them started.

The result? "mommy, this is hard! We just want to bang on the piano, not play music on it! We don't want lessons!"

So, my kids, at least, will always choose not to do anything, over taking lessons. As soon as it gets a little hard, they're done.

I don't want to sound like a total dictator. They are only supposed to practice on days they eat, so they do get some flexibility.exactly

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SaraO
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My two younger kids (almost 4 and 6 yrs old) have also been asking to learn violin. Of course when big sister got one it seemed pretty exciting. As much as I would love to run out and get one while they are excited about it, we are going to wait. We'll see if it still sounds like fun after they've watched big sis struggle with it for a while. violin-student

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Jauniba
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I'm telling you, teaching my kids at 4 was like trying to herd ants into a paper bag.

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GennaLea
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I am most certainly one of those adults who wishes their parents didn't let them quit stuff when they were younger. I started piano and gave that up after about 3 months. And I also started dancing and gave that up after a semester... I never made it to the recital. The only thing I didn't quit doing was singing (but I didn't have to really practice that like the others and it wasn't "hard"). 

 

I do have a couple suggestions to help get your son to practice and enjoy playing more is to offer to make "movies" of him playing. Have him perform a concert. Invite some of his friends or just close family, whatever he'd be comfortable with doing. Make invitations and everything!

 

I have a hard time getting my niece to practice sometimes (she's 10 and has been playing for a couple years) and offering to make her the star of a concert just makes her day and she practices as hard as she can and as often as she can so she's happy with her performance.

 

Just my thoughts. Hope they help. GOOD LUCK!

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Jauniba
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Lukas always gets his violin out when we have guests over. Most of the guests are like "oh, did he just start a few weeks ago?"

 

Um no, like, over 2 years ago...violin is hard. LOL

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David Burns
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I was 9 when I asked to play violin. I really wanted to play. My dad went out and bought me one. I played for 4 years. Neither of my parents or family came to any of the recitals or concerts at the school. That was ok by me, I enjoyed playing, though I did not practice very much. When I got to high school, I just stopped playing. The strings did not play with the rest of the instruments, just strings. I got a bit bored and fell in with a bad crowd. I wish I could tell you how to get the kids motivated, but I don't know. Two of my boys played brass all through high school. My daughter tried clarinet but quit after 2 months, my youngest son tried electric guitar, and quit after about a month. I wish you luck in your efforts!

 

Dave

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Jauniba
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That's so sweet that your dad bought you the violin....and I think kind of amazing that you even stuck with it for as long as you did with no parental guidance.

So, if I understand correctly, suzuki made you not be able to read and the high school strings program caused you to fall in with the wrong crowd. LOL. I am surprised you're interested in going back to the violin!

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David Burns
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No the strings program did not make me fall in with a bad crowd.  I was just getting bored playing with nothing but strings, the bad crowd was more fun. I got into a lot of trouble and ended up quitting school. So it has a happy ending!  lol

 

Dave

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Hi, Jauniba,

(I did not want to teach my own child piano, even though i could play, because i knew I would lose patience with her. Her violin teacher said it is more difficult to teach her own kids (8 and 10) than other people's children.)

I'm going to share my experiences here:

I want my daughter to learn to play an instrument. Mfirst and only choice was piano, violin was never in my mind. I started to look for a great piano teacher when my daughter turned 4.5 through words of mouth. I knew I could try out the teachers, but I guessed I wasn't ready to pick one. One day, my daughter's violin  teacher has a music workshop and I went. There was only another mom there (she was very pushy -- by pushy I meant pushy, her daughter was only 18 months and she is already pushing her to do this to do that). Any way, when I asked her "do we have to be in class with my daughter?" my daughter's teacher impressed me by saying, "if your child's teacher didn't want you to be involve, he/she is not a good teacher, the teacher should encourage you to be involved and how to be involved in your child's learning."

My daughter's violin teacher shared her experience with us where she volunteered to offer group violin lessons to schoolage kids. She discouraged that because she saw a great difference in progress -- students who takes private lessons tend to make better progress than those who are in group lessons.

when my daughter was taking swim lessons, we also saw the differences. Either teachers favor some of the students or each child only gets about 5 to  10 minutes per class depending on the number of children in that class.

I was not sure if my daughter's violin teacher is a great teacher or not. however, my daughter just started her third month. She is making progress steadily. I think her teacher work with children appropriately (I'm in early childhood education). She is positive, not pushy but firm and encouraging. She also knows how to control student when they go out of line, either during private lessons or her studio class. She also let them be creative (e.g., let the kids call the frog the tadpole) but within her limits. She set limits at the beginning of her class and reminds them if it need be.

However, I told my colleagues, "I think I probably will quit before my daughter quits" because it is very difficult to get her to focus when she is practicing. Just last saturday, she had a bad practice (while I had back ache and a headache and no patience at all) and I lost it so we had a discussion with my daughter if she should continue or not and she insisted she wanted to continue. We had an agreement that she has to practice well (we told her if she played well her teacher would teacher her new thing each week -- she might have a week that she did not learn new thing or not much). I also told her that if she really have a good week of practice and a good lesson she will get a treat (a little pet shop toy, she gets stickers or a stamp from her teacher if she practice everyday).  So far she is doing well and I hope this will continue because practicing with a five year old needs a lot of patience and I lost most of my patience with kids at work (not fair for my daughter).

I also notice that giving her short breaks during practice really help for both of us, especially when she asked for one (go use the bathroom, sit and do nothing for a minute to five minutes, go get a drink, listening to me play, etc). The other thing is she likes to see me play, so playing along also help her. I am planning on filming her practice as well so she could watch herself playing as well and i'm sure that would motivate her and help her see what she does well and what she does not do so well. positive comments on what she does well also help. The other thing I have just started to do is to ask her how she does after she finished practicing one thing. Sometimes she could tell and when she could not tell, i would point out what or where she could improve; then i asked her how she is going to do better (she loves to say. "better than perfect" 🙂 then she does better. i hope I could stay positive and encouraging for her because that's when she does best.

your child is older than my daughter, maybe you could have a discussion with him: what he really wants to do -- learn to play piano or violin. Give him a choice within your limit (e.g., to quit is not a choice). if he choose to learn piano, then piano it is and he has to stick with it for a while. During practice, bangging on piano is fun, but he could only do that when at the end of his practice.

Children would do the opposite when they felt you "force" them to do thing -- e.g., learn to play violin. However, when you give them choices -- would you rather learn to play piano (or other instrument like guitar, harp, viola, etc) or violin, then they feel they have more control and would be better able to stick with it. (i didn't give my daughter any choice to begin with, but if she wasn't interested i would give up and let her try other instruments).

I let my daughter know that a violin is very fragile and we need to be careful when handling a violin because i want her to take good care of her violin. One thing about piano is: it's always there, one can just open the lid and start practicing or banging on it any time he/she wants; whereas, violin is more delicate and less visible than piano and thus not so tempting. Sometimes for a young child, needing to be careful when handling something could hinder them from using that thing (i.e., violin).  My daughter learned her lesson (she drop her rental violin and broke a peg) and is now a lot more careful with her violin; although she asked me today, "what if one hit the violin on the piano on purpose?

Didn't mean to be so talkative, sorry!

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Jauniba
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Hi, that was awesome, thanks for sharing that with me.

18 months old....I wish that mom luck....and that child, too.

My kids both attend a public performing arts school. It is sooooooo nice. The facility is AMAZING. Simply amazing. However, I attended the violin class once and it was really a joke. After 6 weeks of 3 x per week instruction I believe the first graders were able to pluck the G string. Yikes. Not exactly a challenging program. I was a little depressed. My son is in keyboard now and he comes home crying (literally) saying that it's awful and boring and the teacher told him the class isn't all about him. It may be a clash with the teacher....or he may truly be bored out of his mind 3x per week.

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Jauniba
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PS that paragraph about the school was just to point out that I totally agree about group learning....which makes me really upset that my kids are learning everything with 17 other kids....and makes me wonder how much they can possibly be learning but I think this is already going into a different forum....like a home schooling one LOL.

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Fiddlerman
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September 10, 2011 - 11:25 am
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Just came to this post now.

These questions are very important and I like that you brought it up in a separate forum than the one where you posted his progress.

I disagree that this is a forum for willing and enthusiastic adult beginners and not stoic children. I am striving for a forum for all with an emphasis on the violin in all respects. I never imagined that the forum would become popular as quickly as it has been doing. smile

I started playing when I was 11 through the Palm Beach County String Program. A teacher came into our class with a bunch of string instruments and allowed us to hold them and tinker with them a bit. She had these forms with her which I took home to my parents and asked them if I could learn to play violin.

My dad agreed on the condition that I would practice one hour everyday. The first week I went through the beginners book to the end by myself. Got these gold stars placed by all the songs and started book #2. I don't like to brag but I am the one the teacher would spend all the time with. I don't think this was right but this is very common. First year I was concertmaster of the "Red Orchestra" and next four years concertmaster of the "Honors Orchestra" at the yearly string festival performance.

I didn't like being forced to practice and often protested by just playing noise or sitting in my chair in my room with the violin until the hour was up. My dad tried to force me to practice and I hated it.

What motivated me was preparation for auditions, competitions, and solo concerts and I know now that it was because of the great attention I received from doing so well. I could tell you stories about that but would rather not.

What motivates children? In my opinion you need to demonstrate how cool violin is. Play GREAT violin music all the time on the stereo at home. All Genres so that he is able to show appreciation for a specific type. Ask him what he thinks of that player or piece, etc. Try to get his mind working that way. You never know which music will motivate him. Cool YouTube videos such as the hip hop violinist Lindsey Stirling that I interviewed this week and other cool young people playing. David Garrett playing,"Smooth Criminal" for example. Often children like bluegrass, pop, and rock.

I was surprised to read that he likes to take out his violin when you have guests. Maybe set goals for what he can perform for your guests. Does he like any popular music?

Rewards can be a good thing as well as Pky mentioned. It's kind of like playing a gig and getting paid for it. Reward him with appreciation, compliments and maybe a treat from time to time saying that this if for playing so beautifully the other day.

A great teacher is obviously very important. If he looks up to the teacher he will want to be like that person, "a violinist".

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Jauniba
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Thank you for your insight.

See....what I suspected was kind of true....I was "forced" to take up the violin because we had one. I was older...third grade. I used to sit in my practice room and blow on my tuning pipe and no one knew. LOL. No one helped me, no one watched over me, I did many things wrong, my teacher was 100 years old and our lessons were so boring.

I quit for a few months maybe in 6th grade, but it got interesting in high school when it became competitive and I went to districts. I eventually, I think in 10th grade, switched to the viola and had much more success there because most of them really stank. LOL. You know it's true.

So, my stand partner, who went on to become a professional violist, had exactly the same start as you. In fact, I think all the ones who went on to continue playing chose to play. There were many fine musicians in my youth orchestra, none of whom still play. Many were truly very good at a young age, having started out in Suzuki.

I have been playing classical music and asking the kids "what emotion do you hear in this song? Is it ____ ? (scary, happy, sad)" since they were old enough to talk.  We went to Nashville to be in a fiddle camp (I know it was excessive since they were really young, but it was a tremendously good experience for all of us anyway) I try to show them videos, lindsey included. Their previous teacher has long hair and plays heavy metal as well as classical and is now in the process of moving to LA. You want cool? there is very little more cool than him. You have no idea what I've tried. I would do anything to keep them interested....but still when practice time comes around, they hide, cry, lay on the floor and roll around.  I don't really care if they become pro violinists, but I don't want this to be something they hate either. To them, violin is about as exciting as brushing their teeth. Something to do quickly and get back to doing something more fun.

I should post a video I have of Lukas trying to hide when we were supposed to practice. Some days I am really ready to throw in the towel...why am I forcing this on them?? am i fulfilling some sort of fantasy for myself? I hope not. I truly get a huge kick out of being able to play the violin and I want them to have the same.done

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Fiddlerman
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September 10, 2011 - 12:59 pm
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How about telling him, "Lukas, you don't have to practice anymore." You on the other hand play as often as you can, so that he hears you and gets jealous. Always with a smile on your face when he sees you to make it look fun. Play lot's of fiddle music on the stereo.

You can also add that if he does decide to practice you will take him swimming, bowling, whatever he likes at the end of the month because you love the violin so much and love to hear him play.... You choose the reward.

Just an idea. He may choose to grab the fiddle when you have guests someday and not be happy with the result and want to practice again.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Jauniba
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The video taping thing also really seems to be working. He's been watching his little videos and hearing his mistakes, and he's actually responding to it like "Oh, wow,  that sounds awful, can I try that again? I think I can do better."

 

And don't forget, there is a second child...and i'm so much more lenient with her....it's torture to practice with her...it sends shivers down my spine...she plays on the bridge....it's like nails on the chalkboard. She plays for ten seconds, then dances around, then complains that the violin hurts her neck, then scratches the bridge with the bow. Torture! We are lucky if we get 10 minutes in per day.confused

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Fiddlerman
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September 10, 2011 - 1:24 pm
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How old is she again? She may need to mature a bit and then you try again. Chances are that if she sees Lukas and you playing, she will get jealous and want to start up again.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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DIY
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When I tried to fall a sleep last night I start thinking about this post and got a bit upset. I will try to summon it up for you.

 

Forcing a kid to play an instrument they don't want seems wrong to me. To me music is either love or desire to be loved, or at least without it music is empty. You can't force someone to love something. Yes, I know, there is a learning process and that involves a lot of patience and is not always fun and can be quite frustrating. But still it is the love for music that keep you going, well at least for me that is. 

You can guide the kid and help it to see how awesome music can be. Try to encourage without pressuring and find a way to inspire. Show videos of how cool it can be. Expose the kid to lots of different kinds of music to get it curious. Even music you don't like your self.

But then again, violin might not be the right instrument for this kid. Did the kid chose the violin or did the parents chose it? Is the kid mature enough? Is it peered up with the right teacher? Maybe the kid just doesn't wanna play at all. It might end up find sciences, sports or computers more appealing. Would that be so terrible?

 

(Oh, and I haven't read all that been said since before I went to sleep, so if I repeated something someone else been saying I'm sorry.)

 

Here I have chosen two videos that inspires me:

Emi Tanabe

Emilie Autumn

"Why don't you dance to the music I hear inside my head?"
(Kent – Music Non Stop)

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Fiddlerman
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September 10, 2011 - 3:05 pm
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The thing is that Lukas seems to want to play since he loves to get his violin when guests come over. It appears that he doesn't want to practice DIY.

Also, as Jauniba said, some children are upset at their parents later in life for not encouraging them to play an instrument. Lots are thankful that their parents did force them too. I think it needs to be catered to the specific child as well. Some children are self motivated and others won't do anything if not made to do it.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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