I 'm going to stop my son's violin lessons ...

September 3, 2008 at 04:51 PM · Hi! I feel very sad today because I 'm going to make a decision to stop my son's violin lessons. He started about 4 years ago, when he was still 4 and half. He is like his dad, sportive, but not very musical, and like to play all his time with friends. In 4 years Progress is slow and motivation is not strong. He can play, also seems to enjoy when he plays familar and easy pieces. Now we moved to Miri, Malaysia, because our expat life-style. It's a small oil town, teachers are not very inspiring. My daughter is quite different, musical, self-motivated, has a good piano teacher coming home to teach. I thought I will stop my son's violin lessons for now and let him playing some piano (he tried and find it easy and not bad). I won't expect him to become very good at it, at least expose it to him and when he's big, he can pick up things again, hopefully making faster progress.

Any advice? Waiting to hear ... Í am quite anxiuos, so I put this ob both Blog and Discussion.

Replies (20)

September 3, 2008 at 05:05 PM · what to do if there is no good teacher around,,,? a great question.

if i am reading you right,,,the violin teachers in the new location are not acceptable, but the piano teacher is, and that your son does not mind stopping violin to take on piano, if i were you, i would have followed the same path, at least for now. IF your son were so focused on continuing violin that nothing else will do, then that will be another matter, a real sad day given the circumstance.

hey, may be piano will be his true calling:)

September 3, 2008 at 05:52 PM · I quite agree with Al. It sounds like piano would be a good thing right now. Violin isn't for everyone, and if he should decide later to pick it up again, the piano will have given him a greater understanding of musical theory.

Best wishes!

September 3, 2008 at 06:00 PM · I did that too... we stopped violin lessons after we moved to a smaller town.. there wasn't a violin teacher and she needed a break from violin (so did mom... teacher--very long story)

I decided that if she wasn't going to play the violin, I would sign her up for piano lessons, that way she would still get music. After about a year, she decided to come back to the violin.. her choice and it has been so very good.

I think you are making the right choice.


September 3, 2008 at 07:43 PM · I think you are right to follow your instincts. That being said, sometimes progress is slow for a very long time, and then over night amazing things can happen.

September 3, 2008 at 09:19 PM · Your boy is still very young, plenty of time to do well on piano, and perhaps he will find a musical niche there. If he decides for himself that violin is what he really needs to play, he will tell you, and he won't need the most inspiring teacher to make better progress, either. Sue

September 4, 2008 at 04:14 AM · Thank you very much for all your valuable words of visdom. I have kept checking for any responses since I posted my message. I play violin myself as well, still taking lessons, let's why I put a smallest violin on my son's shoulder then. I will still bring him to my new violin teacher as early planned, just for a month, to evaluate and weigh the decision once more. I just want my son somehow to learn to enjoy the music from his within, not just following my directions.

September 4, 2008 at 08:00 AM · You said that you want to let your son enjoy the music from within. At this time, he is enjoying the music he makes on the piano, but not that on the violin. This is something you can not force. I agree with Al that you should stop his violin lessons now. He may may be drawn back, from within himself, to the violin later in life; he may not. I recommend that you be very supportive of his piano playing. You will nurture the musical seed within him.

As Thoreau said, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

September 4, 2008 at 11:09 AM · My daughter, who is now 9, stopped violin lessons after a year where she wasn't enjoying them very much and wasn't getting along with her teacher. She took piano lessons that year and enjoyed them. Then she started violin again in school last year and is still playing it. So I think that's a good plan and it seems to have worked for us. Her progress is not as fast as some kids I've seen, especially on this site, but I agree you can't and shouldn't force it. Most kids are going to grow up to play the violin, if they do, for enjoyment and joy in music, and that will come only from within.

September 4, 2008 at 12:18 PM · ying, the fact that you are still continuing violin classes yourself suggests that violin has a special place in your heart, thus making your current dilemma with your son more understandable.

but, you are still taking him with you to your lessons which will continue to provide exposure violin-wise AND he gets to try piano. perhaps double happiness:)

as a parent myself, i realize sometimes how easy it is to add more dishes to the menu and how difficult to delete, thinking that, oh my, what if my kid is meant to be a karate champion, or a great painter, or a great swimmer...

so i come down to this: as long as my kids are reasonably happy, fairly healthy, other pursuits are just bonuses which should complement the main thesis: school first, everything else second.

September 4, 2008 at 03:20 PM · I think you've made the right decision. But I suggest thinking of it as taking a break from the violin - it doesn't mean he will never play it again. Things may change once in high school, or when he gets more mature.

A few examples from our experience -

We stopped our daughter's cello lessons for a few months because she wasn't too excited about it, but also being ~7 at the time, she didn't have enough strength. I remember being disappointed at the time thinking that was the end of it. However, she picked it up again this year (she's now 9) with a different teacher, and she's now stronger and more diligent, and seems to be enjoying the challenge.

We also made our 9yo daughter take a break from singing lessons earlier this year, more because she had too many things on her plate. But it was good - half way through the year she said she really missed it and was willing to give up dance classes to take it up again. This showed us that she really wanted to do it herself, so we've picked it back up for her.

I guess my point is things change over time and your son is still quite young. Just make sure he has positive memories from it and he'll be more likely to pick it up in the future.

September 4, 2008 at 06:27 PM · > I just want my son somehow to learn to enjoy the music from his within, not just following my directions.

It's a very good thing that you recognize this. I echo the others in saying you are doing the right thing. And I've enjoyed reading the others' similar experiences and advice.

September 4, 2008 at 10:19 PM · I'm learning and still having lessons, and my son stopped after about a year. Difficult to agree to at the time, as he had a little bit of promise, but partly it was MY will being exerted and not his. About 2 years later he said that he'd like to learn a musical instrument some day, but when he is in control of how and when he practises, and how much involvement he has.

I can't argue with that - I get immense pleasure from learning and didn't start until my 40's, so who am I to say he's got to do it NOW.

I think we have to learn as parents how to separate our children from ourselves, and its not easy.

November 24, 2008 at 02:45 PM ·

To give you an update on my son's situation (learned violin for 3 years, not motived ...) with his violin lesson:  I slowed down his violin lesson to twice a month, and not everyday practice; he started piano lessons - the teacher comes home and teaches his sister and him back to back.  It turns out he loves playing piano. Because of his violin playing has laid foundation, he picks it up rather quickily.  He enjoys it with great confidence and joy.  I have never seen seen this kind of enthusiasm in all these years of his violin playing.   To keep his violin playing alive, I invited another mother and organized a school ochestra and have my violin teacher coming as the director/mentor.  We gather once a week.  All the kids in the group have got their confidence and enthusiasm boosted.  This way, my son gets the group playing once a week, still twice lessons per month. Piano is just another hobby and pleasure.  So far, it is a success.  Thank you all for your advice and comments.  I hope my expereice can be also somewhat helpful to parents who experience similar situation.

November 24, 2008 at 05:08 PM ·

that is just great to hear and i wonder how many parents out there are still  drilling into the heads of their kids,,,,that they have to play violin... that only violin will do...

a humbling and inspiring lesson for all!

November 24, 2008 at 04:53 PM ·

I will apologize in advance, as I haven't read all the posts, so there may be better ideas or conflicting ideas, however I do have one suggestion. When I am not in such a rush, I will go back and read the other posts.

One thing you may try, if you cannot find inspiring teachers, but if your son is interested in the violin in some measure, is to change to a workshop type of instruction. Not necessarily on a regular basis, but whenever opportunity avails, take your son to a 'tune-up' with his previous instructor (such as when on vacation or when visiting), or there may be some other music events you could attend (if there is a local symphony, they may have a couple events a year where the public is invited to a 'mingle' type of event. This is not the same as instruction, but may keep his interest so he can more easily keep up his practice.

Aside from that, it may be an opportunity to learn another instrument (as I noticed mentioned when I scanned the other posts

November 24, 2008 at 05:11 PM ·

 So glad to hear how well your situation turned out. You made a great decision!

November 24, 2008 at 06:20 PM ·

As a parent I applaud you, I think that  you not only did the right thing but also grasp something fundamental about music, and that is so important.With music, if someone is going to do it they need to have a passion about it, be interested in it. As you saw with your son, he wasn't interested in the violin but when exposed to the piano, he felt something for it. My advice to people who ask about my son and his violin playing is that if a child doesn't show an interest in the instrument after playing for several years, it probably means they never will (just my opinion), and I also encourage people to let a child find what they like, whatever the instrument is, even if it means shifting several times.

One of the hardest thing for me to see is kids being forced to play an instrument they don't feel a passion for, even if they have achieved some level of proficiency at it. This seems especially to be true on the violin, where there is the attitude that "it is the violin or nothing" and an otherwise musical child, who might have find their expression with the piano or the clarinet or the oboe or the cello or whatever, is forced to stay with an instrument that doesn't  resonate with them because someone, the parent or a teacher, believes the violin is the be all and end all. Sadly, what you end up with is a child who could achieve a level of mastery, and then ends up hating the instrument and dropping it as soon as possible......or tries to make a career of it and ends up miserable.

In any event, I applaud the poster for the way he handled this, it showed a lot of wisdom and understanding of the personal nature of music:)

November 24, 2008 at 10:53 PM ·

Hi ying jiang,

Everyone was given 95% of what they have from their parents,teachers,friends,their creator or what ever word you want to use. There is still that 5% to make it  complete. That's the responsibility of each individual using 100% of their power and conscience to make it work.


November 25, 2008 at 03:11 AM ·

I agree, a child may hate one instrument but find another that will fascinate him endlessly.  I read in a book (which I cannot recall right now) a story about the young Artur Rubinstein.  He loved the piano.  When his parents tried to give him a violin instead, he promptly broke it over his knee!

I think if I had started on any other instrument, except perhaps the cello, I would have quit.  I played flute for a few years and grew tired of it.  I am a terrible pianist.

November 26, 2008 at 02:53 PM ·

There was a great story in one of the books about violin playing, and there was a great story about a Russian man whose parents wanted him to go the route of becoming a violinist, sent him to the local violin teacher (who apprently was a feeder to Auer and to the Moscow Conservatory), and he hated it, and he had sort of a tacit agreement with the teacher, the son d utifully paid the teacher but then spent his time wandering the fields and dreaming..until Papa found out about the 'arrangement', that  is. The person in question was a much better dreamer then violinist, and became a fairly well known writer:)

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