Advice needed for 7 year old boy and violin lessons

May 31, 2009 at 03:33 AM ·

Hi everyone,

I am the father of a 7 year old boy and I am debating whether I should start him on violin.  As an avid violinist myself, I would love for him to learn the violin, but I wonder if maybe we would be setting him up for failure.  Here's why.  He learned piano for almost 2 years and is quite gifted.  He learns very quickly and also has perfect pictch.  I am always amazed when I play 3-4 notes simultaneously on the piano and he can name each one without fail.  But, he hates to practice and does not have the patience or discipline to work out the bumps when he plays a piece.  We stopped the piano because it was too much of a struggle to get him to practice.  And once he got to a piece that was hard for him, he lost interest. 

In a way, I envy the parents of 3-4 year olds who beg for violin lessons.  My son is not like that.  I asked if he would be interested in violin, and he said he was, not he is not super excited about it. 

So, should we start him on violin, knowing that if he quits, he will probably never return to violin for the rest of his life?  I am especially interested in hearing from other parents with kids similar to mine, kids that needed a lot of coercing to play and practice and whether it was a good idea to have them learn such a difficult instrument. 

Thanks in advance for your feedback. 

 

Replies (52)

May 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM ·

Greetings,

>o, should we start him on violin, knowing that if he quits, he will probably never return to violin for the rest of his life?  

Smiley ,  the violin is a funny old thing as you well know.   I don`t know if you can really predict this will actually happen .  I also wondered if this was partly bothering you from your own perspective rather than his juts because i know how much you love the violin....

The other thing that springs to mind although I hate to suggest to parents anything at all about parenting is that sometimes you have to hold kids o something that they have agreed to do when the necessary self discipline is not yet fully developed.   The trick is always to make this an act of love rathe r than cruelty.   Actually I think the reuslt can often be better form a moderately lukewarm beginning where interets develops over time rather than an ill considered I want to do this for whateve rreason.

Sometimes much better to go for it than to hear your child say later `I wish I started just a few years earlier so I had a real shot at xy and z.`

Cheers,

Buri

May 31, 2009 at 12:23 PM ·

I think it's definitely too early to say what will happen if he quits.  I wasn't all that motivated at 7 either.  I quit twice and came back twice.

My daughter is somewhat like you describe your son (minus the perfect pitch--she doesn't have that):  she did not beg for lessons, she wanted to play the violin, but she is not self-motivated to practice.  She started at 6, but Suzuki didn't work for her.  She's now 9.  She's making progress.  It's slow and it could be faster, but she still enjoys playing. 

I think the hardest thing for us as parents who play the violin at a reasonably high, but non-professional level, might be to resist making too many comparisons like that, to ourselves at that age, to other kids, or to professionals. 

May 31, 2009 at 01:27 PM ·

I'm not a parent but is it me or is the best thing you can do with kids like this is to try and accept that maybe they will hate it and quit (maybe not too :)

Anyway, it is always best to try to find him a hobby he likes whatever it is.  Yes genetic is strong...  maybe as talented as you but maybe not the same love for music.    But trying is the only way to know... IMOH and as I said here is the opinion of a non parent!

Good luck!

Anne-Marie

May 31, 2009 at 02:04 PM ·

As a parent, I would say - go for it. You play by ear. If you know your child enough, you probably have a bag of tricks ready to tackle any tantrums/moods that he shows up with. Hee hee (insert evil smile).

If you don't try, you'd never know. And I agree with what Buri said - never give any chance to regret. And 7 is not too young to learn discipline and focus. These skills will help them in other areas in life.

May 31, 2009 at 05:56 PM ·

Motivation is important. Enthusiasm can be induced, with effort and luck, and this enthusiasm will help sustain interest.

Is your son interested in playing with you? (You ARE a violinist, I believe?). That could help. Finding friends that play can be useful. My granddaughter made a major jump in her interest many years ago; she had been playing for a year or two, and her teacher had to leave town for a month or so. I found a local lady who was willing to work with her, teaching her Irish fiddle tunes from a book put out by a local musician. After she had memorised several of the tunes, whe was invited to go to a local pub and join in a kids' Irish session. The roomful of kids all playing away happily was an eye-opener for her. When she got home she immediately pulled off all the position-marking tapes from her violin (none of the other kids had taped violins, you see) and began learning the rest of the tunes.

The session met weekly for an hour or two; she continued to attend for a year or so, until her skills outpaced the materials. The experience seems to have been a turning point for her.

Perhaps something like that might inspire your son. You might have to try several different things before you find the spark that will set him off. Of course, it may be that he will not be interested in playing the violin, and you may have to accept that.

May 31, 2009 at 07:56 PM ·

 Hi Smiley,

One of the biggest motivators for my son at age 7 was playing with a strings ensemble.  Playing in a group gave him purpose since he wasn't intrinsically motivated to improve until he was older.  My son started violin at age 6 1/2( he really wanted lessons), stopped playing for 3 months at age 7; at 7 1/2 came back to it and never looked back.  The Suzuki method was the right method for him and the strings ensemble was a great place for him to be for 7 years.  It pays to know your kid (which you do, obviously)

 I didn't hold my son to long practices until I knew he was physiologically able to do so.  I accepted 10 minute practices 4 times a week for several years.  I accepted 20 minute daily practices for several years after that.  Finally, I was able to encourage hour practices but even today, at age 15, he doesn't usually practice an hour unless he's preparing for something.  Still, he improving and is a good player so it has worked for him.

OTOH, my middle son, a cellist who began at age 5 1/2 (he wanted to play) had a naturally much longer attention span and was able to practice for 1/2 hour daily much earlier and his lessons went to an hour much sooner than my oldest; yet, he has never wanted to play in a group and is intrinsically motivated to slowly improve for his own reasons (not really sure what they are).  He finished Suzuki book 8 at age 11 so he's doing ok.  Interestingly, he also took about 4 months off from the cello last year after he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.  I have always given my children the option to quit because it isn't worth it to me (anymore) to nag them to practice.  They know the deal.  You want lessons?  You practice. (Though admittedly, I ask much more from my violinist as he is a much more serious musician)  You want to quit? That's ok by me.  Just let me know because I can get some good money for your instrument.

I made plenty of mistakes, particularly with my middle son, in supervising practices when he was younger.  He has had so many "issues"  (learning disabilities, diabetes, etc) that hindered him but I had always thought he was just really stubborn. My bad! :-(  So, I don't supervise his practices unless he asks me to help him find notes on the piano so he can find them on his cello (since he has to learn 3 clefs, it helps to hear them on the piano).  This can be a  really sad experience as I read music at a snail's pace and often read the wrong note anyway. Sigh!

Ok, not sure any of that was helpful but I do like to stand back and be amazed at my children that they survived me and are still playing their instruments and doing well. :-)

 

May 31, 2009 at 07:59 PM ·

PS.

Smiley, my violinist studied piano for about 6 months with my mom when he was 8-big mistake!  She was waaay too demanding  and he quit saying, "gramma yells at me."  I've encouraged him to take lessons again but so far, he's not been interested.  However, he has taught himself guitar, mandolin, penny whistle, and chords on the piano and I do think he'll eventually take piano in college for practical reasons.  So remember than quitting once doesn't mean they'll never take it up again. 

June 1, 2009 at 01:32 AM ·

I agree with Rebecca. I would go for it and not anticipate what might happen because sometimes we can worry about things that will never happen.. As boys become men it is good he associate music with his father so he is lucky. If you get him in a group make sure it isn't all girls. That was a disaster for us. Female teachers, girls everywhere and it really got under their skin after a while. No idea why. The teachers just loved those little girls and so watch out for that in group lessons. It will be difficult not to try to take over, but sometimes you can't save them from mistakes they make in their attitudes. I find violin is the mirror of everything. If school, friends, sports are going bad then it seems to manifest in violin for some reason. I know a male teacher helped my guys when they wanted to quit. Real men might not wear plaid but around here they seem to stick with violin for the most parts albiet with periodic "bumpy" patches. Some days/weeks will be great and others will be rough. Don't over analyze the guy too much just get busy and start. Unfortunately, violin is turning into a sport sometimes it gets so competive with parents etc., so I would keep him out of that world for a while and find situations where he can be relaxed and his natural self. No wine before it's time! Good luck.

June 1, 2009 at 03:09 AM ·

Smiley,

It is difficult to look inside oneself, but I do believe we are all guilty of being harder on "our own" than a stranger.What is your relationship? Does he like "violin music"? Has he been inquisitive of your own personal violin quest? If he agrees to try the instrument, once the "novelty" wears off, will he fold ? Will he be allowed to? These are things we cannot advise for or against. Personally, I would do some experimental exposure lessons, but if there is an interest then immediately opt for a private lesson scenario.

June 1, 2009 at 03:27 AM ·

Smiley,

This conversation reminds me when I was a young boy at 7. Practicing was one of my hardest obstacles to overcome  and it still is. Right now as high school student, I am getting busier by the years and do not have as much leisure time to play the violin. I also started the violin when I was 7 and I HATED IT, but once I grew up, I guess you appreciate it more and more because of you can experiance more different types of music. One of the ways that I was motivated by my current teacher was to allow me to choose what I  wanted to play that was in my level. She used to give me CD's and listen to many recordings of music and I actually did (well because my mom played them in the car on the way to school.) For example, I am playing the Beriot Concerto No. 9 and I have wanted to play that song for 2 years, but just wasn't good enough. I think that allowing a young student to choose their own song gives them motivation and broadens their view instead of the boring and old classics such as Mozart or Bach. But still, it depends on the student and how willing they are to learning the instrument. But having a teacher is also a very important part of the learning experiance because I've had about 6 teachers and none were very good until I found my current teacher. A good teacher is very important because some teachers don't really care at all about your learning, but just to scam money from you (like my old teacher who sold me a 2500 violin and can't even resell it for 300. It makes me angry thinking about the fu****). When you learn the violin, one should appreciate the chance of learning it, (unlike me, I was a very stupid little kid back then) and work hard to get what you can from a teacher. And learning the violin doesn't just give you skill to play it, but also can benefit you in your everyday life.

June 1, 2009 at 03:58 AM ·

Smiley,

As a 21 year old, I know nothing about parenting. However, I don't think very many 7 year-olds out there are really self motivated when it comes to practice. You may just have to "strongly encourage" your child if he doesn't just feel like it.

I don't know, maybe it's because I was raised in a different culture, but it seems like here kids get to decide too many things. I think children need their parents to make certain decisions for them, at least up to a certain age.

June 1, 2009 at 11:06 AM ·

I can only speak from my own experience.  As a child my parents encouraged me to try anything I wanted.  Some things I liked, some things I didn't.  But every experience is never a wasted thing.  My father was a trombone player and my mother a pianist, so of course, I had to do something different.  I played classical guitar from about 6 or 7 until I entered the school music program in 5th grade on double reeds (first oboe, then bassoon), which I played all the way through college, and as an adult in local community orchestras.  I never really liked the guitar all that much and never wanted to practice either, much like your son.  But, eventually, I did develop that love and began to practice on my own without the insistence from my parents.

Even if it turns out that violin is not his thing, I personally believe you should continue to encourage him to explore.  Certainly any violin training he gets will start to develop his ear and continue to develop his hand/eye coordination and discipline which has served me well even in non-musical areas.  He's only 7.  Patience has rarely been the strength of the very young. 

I, for one, have always been grateful that my parents continually encouraged me to develop my musical abilities. 

In short, he is still very young, and maybe not the time to make commitments, but rather explore the options.  Let him be a kid, encourage him to try different things, see what emerges as his inspiration.  I didn't find the violin until I was in my 40's, but all my previous musical experience has gone into making this an enjoyable experience, and not a complete struggle.

One man's perspective

June 1, 2009 at 11:58 AM ·

According to this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Right-Instrument-your-Child/dp/0297850652 our youngest boy's long arms and short attention span make him perfectly suited to the trombone.  However for now he is learning piano and viola.  I do think character comes into it.  Some kids thrive on instant results, others may be willing to work hard for gradual reward.  What instruments does your boy like the look / sound of?

June 1, 2009 at 02:13 PM ·

The violin can be tough enough for kids who lust to play it. One could have a child-size violin around so that the child can play around with it. I was given one for my 4th birthday (by a grandfather) and it was my constant companion for 6 months until my parents decided that lessons were required so that my presence could be better tolerated. I lasted 8 years (through 3 or 4 teachers) until I asserted myself and quit for a year. When i started I had a passion to play the violin, so I could be like my father who played as an amateur.

When I look at the players I know, I don't see any particular life-long effects of starting later - unless one is raising a future world-class virtuoso. But there is something about the feeling of a violin being so natural that I can't remember not having one.

Andy

June 1, 2009 at 04:29 PM ·

>What instruments does your boy like the look / sound of?

Good question.  I don't know and I'm not sure if he knows either.  I personally play in a piano trio and a string quartet.  To familiarize myself with the repertoire, I frequently listen to the music in my car or in the house.  My son likes the pieces once he gets familiar with them.  One piece for example, Shostakovich Piano Trio is one of his favorites.  Every time we get in the car, he asks me to put it on; he especially likes the 4th movement. 

He was actually quite excited about starting violin lessons, but a strange thing happened.  We went to observe a group violin class and ever since then, he seems reluctant to learn violin.  I've tried to pry it out of him, but still don't know what exactly happened to his enthusiasm after we saw the group class.  That is one of the reasons for my apprehension.

Kids can be funny that way.  He is very self conscious about what he brings to school lunch because other kids might tease him about what he is eating.  He would rather eat something that is less tasty, than have his favorite food and be teased about it.  Parenting is tough!

 

June 1, 2009 at 04:36 PM ·

Smiley,

I'm with Manuel on this one. I'm not yet a parent but the firstborn will have a choice (piano, violin or cello). The second will choose from the 2 that remain, and the younger has no choice.

I'm of course joking but.... I had to be nagged to practice as a child but kept playing even through college (by my own choice). I stopped playing for 10 years but have recently come back to the instrument. wouldn't trade the experience for the world. I didn't ask my parents to play the violin, they made me. I did ask my parents if i could play the saxophone, and did play that instrument through sophomore year college as well. That instrument remains in the closet, but it'll come back out one day.

I'd personally suggest trying to figure out how to encourage your son to continue playing the piano.

Allan

 

 

June 1, 2009 at 04:49 PM ·

Smiley, it looks like your child may be a little self conscious. I know the lunch issue. My boys are 6 and 8. My kids get teased when they bring ethnic food to school. But they dont really care.

Your child may prefer individual lessons vs group playing. Not everyone like to play in a group. Maybe you can tell him he doesn't have to play with other kids if he doesn't want to.

June 1, 2009 at 05:23 PM ·

Smiley,

Does your son tend towards introversion and perfectionism?  Group classes for my middle son (cello) were a biiig no go. (He is both introverted and perfectionistic) He went one time, hated it, and I never asked him to try it again.  Oldest and middle son have pretty much complete opposite personalities and their approach to music is completely different, too.   

June 1, 2009 at 08:07 PM ·

Rebecca,

My son is one of the most extroverted children you will ever meet.  He has a bad habit of hugging complete strangers.  The strangers don't seem to mind, but we are trying to break him of the habit.  He is also a complete ham in performances.  On several occassions when he has been on stage (choir, piano recital, school skits), he stole the show.  He did not exhibit any signs of being nervous.  In fact, he seems to thrive on the attention -- very different from his dad in that respect.

I would also say that he is NOT a perfectionist.  I've never known him to be overly obsessed with getting things perfect.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing, or a bad thing when it comes to music. 

At any rate, it seems the overwhelming majority of responses are in favor of going for it, which is what I am inclined to do.  I guess I agree with the statement that we'll never know unless we try.

June 1, 2009 at 10:45 PM ·

I think you won't regret it. Consider it a part of his education at this point. Also, since he is a social type, once he has his posture etc. together he might enjoy play with others. Let him observe a group without making him commit. Also, let him know you can look for different situations until he is comfortable, but once he starts he has to stick with it for X amount of time. Document his first practice and then play him the video in a year. They forget how it was at the beginning and our guys love to see the old videos that would be really easy now. As for the perfectionist thing I am not sure the perfectionist temperment gets you anywhere except to a nervous breakdown. While you will have to work with that temperment, I find the "go for it" personality of my sons, who sound a little like yours, make them very resilient when things don't go "perfectly". If he never plays, he will never make a mistake, but what is the adventure in that? Good Luck to you both on this adventure.

June 1, 2009 at 11:29 PM ·

Smiley,

something in common and a GREAT bonding avenue...college recitals and open rehearsals do not cost a dime

 

 

 

June 1, 2009 at 11:40 PM ·

I could ask your boy what instruments he likes, and let him choose from a small number. Not all (wind) instruments will work for a 7-yr.-old because they must play on full-sized. Make a plan together, with your teacher, of expectations about practice time, attitude and cooperation, how much help you will give him. He should know he doesn't have to commit for life, but he should be expected to follow through through for a kid-friendly length of time like 20 lessons.  Was the group he observed skilled? He may have been intimidated. Or if they were themselves beginners, he may have thought it was awful :)  Sue  

June 2, 2009 at 01:49 AM ·

to choose wisely is wisdom. 

to stick with something is virtue.

may the music lessons, whatever the instrument,  bring needed life lessons as well.

June 2, 2009 at 02:43 AM ·

The following post was from Andrew Victor:

It is what you as a parent will have been able to contribute to your child's life. A day does not go by that I do not think of what my parents gave me through getting me into violin and later, cello, lessons (70 - 57 years ago). I can still visualize the final violin duets my father and I were able to play together (55 years ago), a treasured memory.

Thanks Andy.  Your post put a lump in my throat.  It is my hope that I too can bestow some treasured memories upon my son.  You have really hit  on the meaning and essence of life.

 

June 2, 2009 at 07:00 AM ·

Smiley, you shouldn't assume that if your son starts and stops playing violin now, he will not play it later.  I have many students who are adult re-beginners.  They all say that they studied violin when they were in school and then gave it up.  Now they regret stopping and are eager to learn again.

June 2, 2009 at 03:25 PM ·

Hi Pauline,

If my son does stop, I certainly hope he does not wait until he is an adult to start again.  I really want him to experience the joy of music like I did -- playing in the school and county orchestras, musicals, etc.

I have decided to give it our best shot.  I signed him up for violin lessons starting in July.  When I talked my son about it this morning, he actually seemed a little excited about it.  Wish me luck!

June 2, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

All the best Smiley, remember to post a video of your first duet!

June 2, 2009 at 04:35 PM ·

Smiley - I'm one of those students that stopped, and picked it up again several years later. But I did experience the recitals, school orchestras etc. I stopped playing after my junior year of college, Senior year was a busy year job hunting etc....

June 3, 2009 at 11:44 AM ·

Hi Allan,

My story is similar to yours.  If my son does what you did, I would view that as a success!  Thanks for posting.

June 26, 2009 at 02:17 PM ·

Smiley -

My daughter was a gifted viola player.  She was one of those kids who did not practice, but somehow 'oozed' the music right out.  She was first chair when she entered High School, and immediately told me that she did not like her teacher - that her teacher did not make orchestra fun.  I sympathized, but I am not one of those parents that would say,"Oh, you HAVE to do this..even if you're unhappy."  I just don't believe in doing that.

I figured she was just being a normal teen and I encouraged her to continue.  However, I re-evaluated my prodding her when other kids in her class would visit our home and say the same thing.  In her junior year, she went into Symphony, and while she played faithfully at the concerts, I could see that she was absolutely miserable.

In her senior year, she and nearly the entire viola section quit the school Symphony.  5 violins and 4 cellos also left.  A friend of my daughters...also gifted (he played double bass, bassoon, clarinet, and guitar) left as well.  This young man reiterated what the other kids said....that the instructor was so tyranical he took any enjoyment out of the music experience.  How sad!

While your son has not had an experience like this, my daughter (and the others in her section) left the music arena disgusted and angry.  She has only been away from her viola for little more than a year.  I've packed it away and I'm saving it for her.  I really believe that maybe in college or later on in life, she will get the urge, as they say, to pick it up again.  And, maybe she will meet the right kind of instructor that would make playing fun again.  In my opinion, though, that decision will have to come from her heart.

---Ann Marie

June 26, 2009 at 09:26 PM ·

Hi Smiley!

I would also say "go for it!'  I think parents sometimes offer too much choice...my kids have both played for years (since they were 4)..and each went through a reticent period...BUT we stayed with it.  It just WAS something that we were going to do, like math or reading.  And now one of my kids wants to go to music school, and the other plays in recitals and in orchestra, and it's GOOD for them in ALL kinds of magical ways.  They practice willingly and enjoy playing very much....now....    DON"T wait too long.   Just  2 cents from an experienced "fiddle-mom."

I agree with Buri wholeheartedly...but I can't type as creatively!  : ) 

Erica

June 27, 2009 at 02:56 AM ·

Ann Marie,

I am so sorry to hear your daughter's story.  If the teacher is as bad as you say, I believe you have an obligation to speak to the school administration.  No teacher should be allowed to destroy a child's interest in music.  He should seek another profession.

My son starts violin lessons in 2 weeks.  I'll probably take him to the violin shop next week to get him a violin.

 

Erica,

That is wonderful about your kids.  And I agree, kids nowadays have too many choices.  My son for example is doing chess club, tap dancing, basketball, spanish, swim team, piano.  My wife wants to expose him to many different activities, but I believe at some point, we need to narrow the focus and let him try to excel at just 1 or 2 things.  I'm hoping that violin might be one of them. 

 

June 27, 2009 at 05:55 AM ·

Several points Smiley...

  1. as parents, you two are doing great...offering and exposing and not letting the video game become the care giver
  2. the summer, void of the school ritual may be an optimum time for your son to start and also offer a structured activity

June 28, 2009 at 11:05 AM ·

Yesterday, we went to the violin shop and picked out a violin for my son.  They measured him and said he needs 1/10 size.  It's pretty tiny, but I think it is the right size for now; he is small for his age.  Right now, his aunt and cousins (twin girls, also 7 years old) are visiting with us for a few weeks.  After we got the violin home, I gave the kids (my son and his cousins) some basic instruction on holding the instrument and bow and playing open strings and they were all very excited; in fact they were fighting for their turn to play.  We'll see how long that lasts...

At any rate, teaching the kids made me realize how impossibly difficult it is to play violin.  Just holding the bow and instrument properly is an incredible challenge; trying to make a clean sound on open strings is virtually impossible for someone who has no experience.  I really haven't even started teaching them to use the left hand yet.  The kids are anxious to learn twinkle, twinkle, but even that seems like a daunting task.

Any advice from any teachers out there?  How long does it usually take for a 7 year old to learn twinkle? 

June 28, 2009 at 11:47 AM ·

Greetings,

Smiley, I strongly recommend you get some copie sof Adventures in ViolinLand by Shirley Givens.  ' is a perfect age and it breaks down the proces into manegeable and fun concpets while iolsating the hands.   It is actually a very powerful distillation of Galmian@s ideas but we don@t mention thta...

For me, it has simply been the best way forward for young children . Playing Twinkle has in y opinion become part and parcel of the Suzuki method. Outside that context it is not a useful goal for me.  The kids I ze Ain VL with don`t play twinkle for a long time (if ever) but they play cocnertos pretty fast after a lsow and entertaining start.

Cheers,

Buri

June 28, 2009 at 11:12 PM ·

 My daughter started violin at 7. Age 7 was old enough to move fairly fast. It was at a summer camp she learned to play. Between swim and ga-ga, they had two blocks for violin, each 45 minutes long. The instructor went around giving short lessons everyday. Kids could practice when they were not in lesson. I am sure there was a lot of goofing around. I mostly heard of rescued earthworms or slightly disabled daddy longlegs. My daughter moved a piece every other day or so. At the end of 6 weeks or so, she was on the perprtual motion, #11. I don't know how high the standard was to move a piece. 

September 16, 2009 at 02:00 AM ·

Just an update for anyone that is interested, and to answer my own question (how long does it take to learn twinkle).  My 7 year old started lessons about 6 weeks ago, and he is able to play twinkle more or less in tune and without too many squeaks.  So far, things are going well and he doesn't object (too much) to practicing daily, even if it is only 10-15 minutes.  Here's a video of our first duet.  I'm hoping this is the beginning of a long and wonderful journey for him.

www.youtube.com/watch

September 16, 2009 at 02:50 PM ·

Absolutely fabulous!  This video made my day!

September 16, 2009 at 11:01 PM ·

So wonderful!  Oh, I remember the days, Smiley. :-) 

September 16, 2009 at 11:59 PM ·

Smiley,

I'm not sure that teaching your own helps. 4 of my 6 started the violin and then gave up after a move to secondary school, maybe the added workload? Disappointing - but they never wanted to learn from Dad, and didn't take any notice of what I said - "My teacher said...". This is not just on the violin - my wife's a maths teacher, and I studied Engineering, but until the later years when we were useful, they'd never take any notice of any help - the same "My teacher said...". Even when you know they didn't! Frustrating, but after all, we're just Mum and Dad and what would we know about anything?

September 17, 2009 at 01:18 AM ·

Malcolm,

You are absolutely right, but perhaps the video left the wrong impression.  I am not teaching my son at all.  I just played the duet with him and my wife happened to have the video camera handy. 

He has a terrific teacher that gives him a private lesson every week and also group lessons every 2 weeks.  She is very patient and is taking things one step at a time, making sure to build proper technique.  In fact, my son did not even pick up the violin for the first two weeks -- just did bow grabbing exercises.  Then spent two weeks playing open strings and is just starting to use the fingers of the left hand for the past week or two.

I spent quite a bit of time searching for and interviewing potential teachers for our son.  The teacher we chose was not the cheapest nor the most convenient (her studio is 30 minutes away, 1 hour with traffic), but she seemed to have the most patience and also the most experience with youngsters.  So far, it is working out, knock on wood.

 

April 26, 2010 at 01:46 AM ·

My son has been at it for about 8 months now.  So far, he hasn't gotten tired of it and doesn't object too much to practicing daily.  Here's a clip of a performance he did earlier today. 

www.youtube.com/watch

 

April 26, 2010 at 01:51 PM ·

Your son has clearly made a veyr good progress :) He has good intonation and plays with a straight bow.  He is really delightful to listen to :) Congratulations with your son!

April 27, 2010 at 03:18 PM ·

ahhh, very nice.  what a great nurturing environment!   i bet most violin kids won't quit early if they can enjoy and make music in a group setting like that...

 

October 10, 2010 at 04:04 AM ·

So far so good.  After a little more than a year, my son is starting Suzuki book 4, and was accepted into the local youth orchestra (MCYO); they have a prep strings orchestra for children in grades 3-5.  I coach him for about an hour a day.  Although it can be frustrating at times for both of us, his daily practice is a time we both enjoy.  Right now, he is quite enthusiastic about playing; I hope it continues (fingers crossed).

 

October 10, 2010 at 12:38 PM ·

 He seems like a normal 7-year-old child. Don't worry.

I was 9 when I started the violin and although I was super excited at the beginning, I never liked to practice, I hated going to half of my lessons sometimes, and I always found it frustrating and annoying if I hit a hurdle that I couldn't seem to get past. 

But I carried on, and almost 7 years later, here I am, with a lot of people telling me I have a fantastic musical career ahead of me. 

He probably needs a little push along the way. Start him with lessons and if he doesn't practice then just kindly remind him he needs to or he'll have an annoyed teacher by the time it reaches his next lesson. If he gets stuck, encourage him to carry on. If he gets heated up about something, tell him to put the instrument down and come back to it later.

He's lucky, he has a musical background. My parents have never played instruments. And they don't know much about music either. 

You know he is talented, maybe he just doesn't believe that. I'm sure one day he will realise. Good luck and do keep us updated on what you decide to do! 

-Eloise

October 10, 2010 at 12:49 PM ·

Seems like you both have traversed this mine field with flying colours - you for encouraging your son to do something that was good for him but not his special interest and him for similar reasons.  Even if he does not keep the instrument up for ever the benefits with respect to a grounding in music and classical music in particular are enormous.  Who knows, maybe he will play and quit - and then become a rabid returner like so many here (myself included of course).

He's very lucky to have such a considerate and caring dad... ;)

October 10, 2010 at 01:26 PM ·

Sir Thomas Beecham (To a woman asking what instrument her son could learn without the usual agony of the initial stages of learning): "I have no hesitation, Madam, in saying the bagpipes. They sound exactly the same when you have finished learning them as when you start learning them."

October 10, 2010 at 01:34 PM ·

LOL!

Which sort of raises the question - are there people who try to learn the violin who sound the same when the finished learning?  That is, never got anywhere?

October 10, 2010 at 04:19 PM ·

Yes, Beecham was funny. And I'm sure there are violinists who never get further than a furtive start at learning the instrument - probably many more than those who continue. And there are certainly plenty of quotes about less-than-stellar musicians:

Arturo Toscanini (to a trumpet player): "God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way."
Bruno Walter: (to an orchestra reaching for their instruments) "Already too loud."
Richard Strauss: "Never look at the trombones. It only encourages them."
Bob Hope: "When she started to play, Steinway himself came down and personally rubbed his name off the piano."
Igor Stravinsky: "Harpists spend ninety percent of their time tuning their harps and ten percent playing out of tune."
 

October 10, 2010 at 04:39 PM ·

Beecham again, to a cellist: "Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you can do is scratch it."

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds."  -- Edgar Wilson Nye, quoted in Mark Twain's autobiography

Seriously, good luck to you and your son.  I hope he finds the violin to be more of a joy than a chore.  (Speaking of which, time to tear myself away from this joy and back to that practising chore...)

October 10, 2010 at 06:46 PM ·

Poor those who have been told these... Might be true but not to tell unfront of them!   And telling that god told you the music is quite a bit pretentious...  As if your version was the ultimate one... 

But I know Smiley will never say any of these to his son ; )   Good luck!  

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