How can a Suzuki parent help child to practice better at home?

January 12, 2012, 9:20 PM · Hello everyone

Here's a video of my daughter Cathleen practicing on her violin on a typical night. As you can see, there's room for lots of improvement in her techniques.

My daughter playing Suzuki violin book 2 Song 6: Bourree

My question for all the violin teachers and Suzuki parents is:
How can a Suzuki parent like me help my child to enjoy or be more motivated during the child's practice session?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you very much!

(from Singapore)


January 14, 2012 at 03:03 PM · what works for my daughter is, play together with her. take out my violin and play together, then she feels this is 'playing' the violin and not practising.

January 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM · I'm neither a teacher nor a Suzuki parent; but I was a kid beginner myself, albeit non-Suzuki.

I second the recommendation to play together. But before the discussion gets any more involved, we need to address the critical issue of whether or not your daughter herself is motivated to play this instrument at all. If it's something she wants to do, that's a big advantage -- especially if she likes the piece and hears you playing it well.

But if she doesn't really want to play violin anyway, if it's something being forced on her, then you're facing an uphill battle.

January 14, 2012 at 10:32 PM · I can think of nothing more demoralising than to be asked to sit and notice all the things I did wrong, and knowing that someone else has picked up more errors, so even my 'self analysis' is wrong. I felt so, so rantie when I saw a list of errors ribboned across the screen. She's LEARNING, of course she has errors.

So here's what else I saw: a 7 year old who played a piece from start to finish, in the same tempo, with intonation, with mostly even sound. She tried to do the bowing as written, she corrected herself when she faltered. She was practising. She is harsh with bow sounds and yes it wanders. Her fingers are stuck rigid and splayed across the bow with a lot of tension in the wrist.

Its hard to control a longer bow to stay straight, and little tapes at the tip don't stop the length of the bow acting as the lever it is - could you use a shorter bow for a while? there was a good thread here about 3 months ago about beginners with lots of bow hand tension, it would be good to read.

Since she can essentially get through this piece, why not break down the phrases and have them played musically. Get the teacher to show you how they can sound and how to get that sound, and imitate that.

As mentioned, if she doesn't want to play, this is all struggle street. If she does want to play, play it with a smile. She should be proud of what she can do.

January 15, 2012 at 03:58 PM · I agree with everything that Sharelle wrote. There's a very fine line here. Criticism is a healthy thing, but too much of it, no matter how constructive, is bound to be demoralizing. All I saw in that video were flashing critiques--where were the positive and up beat messages?

I also disagree with asking a seven year old to critique her own performance. She isn't old enough, or experienced enough, to fully grasp what she's done or doing wrong.

I also agree with the bow length issue. It seems as though a shorter bow would be better suited for her physique.

January 16, 2012 at 03:39 PM · Maybe my comment won't be very wellcome, but I would say you need to find a good non-Suzuki teacher, as fast as possible.

January 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Frieda - yes, I have to agree. Well said!!

What ARE we doing to our kids? Apart from the fact that she is getting awful teaching, she really needs to be convinced that playing the fiddle can be fun, and she shouldn't be the subject of video dissection as if she is some exhibit in a zoo.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Protect your instrument this winter

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Starling-DeLay Symposium
Starling-DeLay Symposium

Los Angeles Philharmonic
LA Phil

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Study with the Elizabeth Faidley Studio

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine