We once owned a dog, Gareth. He was a beautiful, huge Chesapeake Bay Retriever that could lap from the bowl in 7/8 time and eat from a fork on command. However, he could also detect my husbands moods, one of which was frustration, long before my husband showed any signs.
As you know, in the previous blog, I have decided to "let go" and have my daughter be in total control of practicing her violin. This worked out really great, the first week and a half. But, like my dog Gareth, I can also detect frustruation long before my daughter shows any signs.
Take, for example, yesterday the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, she didn't practice over the holiday; which is okay with me :) I had offered (just a suggestion) that she should practice whatever she wanted to practice. What did she choose? A Mazas Etude with double stops.
My daughter's violin has need new strings for the last week and I will not let my husband put them on until we can get her violin adjusted. So, the string situation added to the frustration with the doulbe stop etude.
After hearing the third attempt at the etude, I called to her "Move on, if you're frustrated." Of course, her response was "I'm not getting frustrated." But after hearing the re-tuning of double stops and plucking of the open strings (a true sign of her frustration) and having the same conversation three more times; I decided to break my promise of interference. I had to go into her room and make her stop practicing that etude.
After she got done with all her practicing, I talked to her about why I came into her room. I told her that I know when she is frustrated long before she does and she will just have to trust me. I told her that she would understand more when she has a few children of her own :)
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Over the last six years or so, I have really enjoying attending my daughter's violin lessons. I would record her lessons and take some notes hoping that these would be helpful tools for her practice. Oftentimes, I would sit in her room and listen to her play. I would sometimes offer suggestions of what her teacher said so that she could spend time less frustrated.
This worked great... up until about 3 months ago. I noticed whenever my daughter got frustrated and I offered suggestions, it just made her practice time worse. Almost every time I would sit in her room (now it was just before her lesson) the practicing would end up in tears.
I had decided to try something new to possibly end or eliminate some of the frustration. I would let my daughter decide when it's the right time to practice. Whether it was before or after homework, afterschool activites etc. Then I also decided to let her practice what she wanted to practice whether that's orchestra music, things for her teacher or school; she would have to make that desision. Next... would be the hardest thing for me... For me NOT to be in the same room when she is playing. Sometimes, she would practice when I took my other daughter to her swimming.
Over the last week, this has worked out great! I have listened from a distance and can tell you that her practicing has been more focused and "smart" meaning that she has been using all the tools her teacher has taught her (without me being there... imagine my shock). Of course there was some frustration (I didn't hear it, I was away) which she had to work out for herself.
Of course, she can come to me anytime for suggestions or opinions :) I will always be there. And of course, I will continue to come to as many lessons as I can.
My experiment turned out to be a lesson for both of us. I let go and it was ok. My daughter got some much needed independence.
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Over the next 24 hours, I will have to make a decision whether my husband or I attend my daughter's youth orchestra concert. If it is recorded, then I will go (husband is more of a bluegrass fellow), if it isn't then he will go. It is a decision that I have been putting off now for the past two weeks.
Because of our family's current financial situation and the fact that the symphony is charging for admission, we simply do not have the money in our budget to have all our family attend her concert. My daughter knows what is going on and she is comfortable, knowing that one of us will be going with her.
My one hope is that my daughter knows how proud we are of all her accomplishments (moving to a new state, new school (straight A honor Roll) new violin teacher and now top orchestra of the NWYO assistant principal 2nd)
I love you M'da... things will only get better!
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More entries: December 2008
Violinist Frank Almond tells the life story of the 1715 Lipinski Strad in his new recording, "A Violin's Life."
Jodi Bernard is from Zionsville, Indiana. Biography
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