July 18, 2008 at 3:31 PMGiven that I simply cannot play the violin anymore without my child's direct involvement (like, him holding the bow, fingering for me, etc.), I'm seriously considering getting him a violin, or perhaps a toy. Then we can actually play together -- him on his, me on mine... well, that's wishful thinking. Mine will have to stay in the case or he'll drop his and say, "I want to play on Mama's violin!" because of course, everything that Mama uses is by definition better than the things that Alex uses.
He's going to be 2 in August. He has no conception of treating things gently (though he has learned how to pet the cats without whacking them, most of the time). Does anyone out there know how sturdy the teeny 1/16th child violins are? Can they be whacked around a bit without doing too much damage? Maybe a $20 toy that plays its own tunes (and is labeled ages 3 and up... :( ) would fill the void until he's ready to obey some directions. :)
I've read some of the posts about starting kids young, and before anyone tells me that I'm forcing the violin on my kid and will alienate him forever, I have no intention of making him do anything that he's not interested in. (I'm also not planning on giving him "lessons", per-se. It'll just be him and me, playing around for a few minutes here and there). We're teaching him two languages at home, too, for the same reason -- because learning stuff now, before he's conscious of having to make an effort to learn, will give him a head start on things later. Whether or not he plays the violin when he's four is of no consequence -- the fact that he learned how to hold it and to move fingers somewhat independently and to finger while moving a bow in a totally different direction can help him play soccer just as well. The concept that strings make different pitches depending on where you put your fingers is just huge! If he enjoys the violin and stays with it, great. I suspect he'll switch to the saxophone somewhere along the line, though!
By the way, we are also raising our daughter bilingually- in our case Spanish and English. Turns out it's pretty simple. My wife just speaks Spanish to her, supplemented by a couple of days per week at a columbian friend's house (her "nana"), and I speak English to her. Around the house we speak English for the most part. Our daughter is using both roughly equally and addresses me in English and my wife in Spanish. I was worried that it would mess my daughter up in some unforseen way, but so far, so good.
I gave him a super tiny (super cheap) violin, bow and case (I couldn't quite manage to get the thing in tune, but it didn't matter) just for messing around.
He loved placing music on a music stand and pretending to play it, and also walking around with it in its case on his back.
When he was visiting me one day, a few days after I'd given him the instrument, I asked him about the violin and he told me matter-of-factly "I'm not old enough to have a violin."
His dad explained that he had -- in less than five unsupervised minutes -- managed to remove all strings, pegs, bridge, button, chinrest, the frog and hair from the bow, etc. Another five minutes, who knows, he might have had the top off the thing.
The moral: music together might be the best option, but if you must hand him any sort of violin, perhaps best make it a cheap one, and employ constant supervision.
It's good to hear that I'm not insane, that other people have done the same thing (... though, I suppose that doesn't mean that we're not all insane ...) with varying degrees of success.
I've thought about a ukelele and will probably get one of those too. ;) But it wouldn't solve my problem of "mee-too-ism" when practicing the violin with my son around. You see, we can't actually let him wander around unsupervised (and I'm rather stunned that some of you can let 23-month-olds out of your sight) so if I want to practice, he's got to be with me. Or, he's got to be asleep and I have to be in the basement with a metal practice mute.
He's also got super-hearing, you see. Well, that and our house has no soundproofing at all.
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