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Passing the torch: Musical Maturity

November 18, 2008 at 12:36 PM

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.

From Jenna Potts
Posted via on November 18, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Bravo to both of you!!!  It's so encouraging to see parents who are able to know when and how much to let go. :-)

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted via on November 18, 2008 at 8:15 PM

I agree with first posting!

Personnally, I had never had my mom beside me when practicing because I do not come from a musical family so I am the only one who can coach myself when I'm not with my teacher.  Thus, it sometimes misses me a lot to not know what it would have been like to have parents who would have initiate me to music at 4 or brother or sisters who would have played with me.  For sure, for young children it is almost a must.  In the other hand, I have learn so much by self taught myself and I would self taught myself things even if I would have the best teacher in the world because evan as a student, you have to have your ideas and aprroch towards music or shoulder-rests vs none, changing to a new kind of strings or wanting to try a concerto x.  When I have a new idea, I submit it to my teacher and honnestly she has always find my ideas good for posture, sound issues etc.  But, of course my teacher always have the last word on my ideas but, until now, if I do something that can improve my technique, even if it is different from her, she always agree.  I never had a fight with her over anything and we both have much character and strong opinions.  I guess, we think in the same way even if she is a lot better than me!

I think, when we get older, teen and + we develop our own ways to practice and we need tranquility in order to develop our personnalities as a student (yes, I'm a strong advocate in thinking that students can have a personnality, they  must try to sound unique and have trademarks since day one, if not, they are not true musicians). Your daugter is probably facing this kind of period and don't think the problem is you.  Sometimes, the parent wants the kid to play but the kid hates it, but it doesn't seem to be your case obviously!

Good luck and good luck to your daughter!


From Jodi B
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Hey, I just thought I would update. Last night, my daughter had an awesome lesson. There were no tears before or after :) and she even practiced after supper (which she has never done) because she had a playing test in orchestra over double stops.

These last few months have been quite an adjustment for her; moving to another state, school, new private violin teacher and youth orchestra. She has done exceptionally well under the circumstances.

I will say that her violin teacher pushes her... pushes her to think for herself. This is different. At first, she learned all the bow strokes, now he wants her to not only know them but which stroke to use when and what part of the bow.

Anyway, it is working out to be great!

From Bill DeFilippis
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 7:33 PM

My experience is that at a certain point, most kids studying the violin get to the point where they 'take it on themselves', and parental help becomes a burden to them. I think it is part of the maturation process, especially for kids who find a real passion for the instrument and want to potentially make it their avocation. With our son, when he moved onto a higher level teacher things just seemed to jell with him, and today he is self motivated with his practicing and such. All we can offer is advice or suggestions on how to deal with frustration or issues with his teacher or whatnot at this point. I believe that it is important that this start happening as early as possible, but every child will have their own path.

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