How should a young beginner practice?
Hi, please give some suggestions about how to guide a young beginner. My daughter is 7.5 years old, and has learnt violin for about 1.5 years in a public system. Her teacher is kind and experienced, and I do not sit in the classroom nor supervise when she practicing. I do keep an eye on how she is going, but do not comment. She made a notebook to track all her activities including violin learning, so I know she is satisfied with her progress. However, I have some concerns:
1. The real practicing time is very limited, around 0-10 minutes per day. She practices about 5-7 days per week. She has a sort of shortcut strategy, that she allocates more time on the songs that she cannot sightread fluently. So she is always able to get new sheets the following week. It seems she has strong preferences of the songs she learnt, some of them she still plays for fun after a long period, and some of them she just stops practicing when she thinks it's acceptable.
2. She likes to play with the violin, with very bad postures( e.g. laying on the carpet or sofa, holding the violin in front of her body, using different kinds of bow hold), plays the songs except the ones she is learning. Sometimes she just plays through a Suzuki book(her teacher doesn't use suzuki method, but she got a set of the books from grandma), or plays the pieces she has learnt but often changes the rhythms or transposes.
My questions are:
1. How should I hint her to practice the violin with more patience? I talked with some other parents whose children are in the same age, but seems all of them sit in the classroom or using incentives(e.g."if you practices ten times/finish the homework, then you can play games for xx minutes"). To be honest, I am not a fan of external incentives, it would be my last choice, and I think in that case, I would probably let my kids quit. Her teacher thinks there is no need to push her, I have followed the instruction well if not too well.
2. Should I provide the music sheets or books she wants? I confessed the issue to her teacher, but seemed she already gave the kind gentleman a headache. If it is OK, which books do you recommend to a young beginner?
I am sorry I am not a native speaker, nor a sufficient English user. Thanks in advance!
> I do not sit in the classroom nor supervise when she practicing.
Do you mean that she does good practise 10 minutes a day and then does all the other activities after that or do mean that she plays with different holds and stuff in the 10 minutes she practices?
What Gene said. By observing the lessons, you'll be able to help way more at home.
Thanks for the reply.
to Erik Williams: thanks! I actually have used monetary incentives: in some Saturday evenings, she and her brother want to make "shows" and I have to buy tickets, it is often circus shows but violin accompanying is sometimes used. I think she likes to play for fun, but thinks the practicing is sometimes boring.
Sophia, just to give you some ideas for practise. Our teacher sets us goals to reach and then I divide them into a set amount of repetes and tasks in my mind before we start. The tasks are short and she can sit down in between and generally goofs around in between. I use those rest times to expain the next task and also to motivate her to try the harder ones. So she does not stand for more than 5 minutes at a time, usually its even less.
I'm not a fan of bribing children- it's important for kids to develop an internal sense of motivation. What happens to motivation when there's no treat involved? Or do y'all intend to keep giving treats and prizes for the rest of their lives? (BTW, I'm not talking about allowance- that's money given in exchange for work.)
Maria,you are really a great mom! The efforts you made is out of my imagination, thanks for sharing. I always assume piano is harder. My daughter tried several instruments when she was around 5 to 6 years old, shortest for 3 lessons, and longest for 8 lessons. She decided to learn violin first, I hope it will last long. I must learn some parenting skills:)
Although I gave private string lessons over a 40 year period and have experienced
I have never encountered a 7yo who can come out of a lesson knowing what to do without assistance, nor have I ever met a 7yo who practices in a productive way without assistance. I don't think it is developmentally appropriate to expect that.
Sophia, thank you for your kind words :)
I just saw this on another website:
Julie, I totally agree with you that it is important to develop internal motivation. I am happy to see a teacher says that a beginner does not need that much practice time. My daughter is about Suzuki 2 or 3, I guess, she can sight-reading Suzuki 3 fluently with mistakes here and there. The book she uses now is about shifting to 3rd and 2nd position, plus some other elementary techniques, it seems she took it quite easy, but I have no knowledge in violin playing, I can just say the intonation sounds OK. I guess it is where the learning really begins, that is why I wonder how could I inspire her to practice more.
Who likes concerts anyway? You have to wear itchy clothes, you don't get to eat a proper supper, you have to sit up straight for hours.
"How long and how often would you expect a young beginner to practice every week?"
I agree that parents in the room is not the approach for everyone. It depends on personality, the type of relationship the child has with the parent, and whether the parent has the time. So many act like it isn’t up for debate. There is literally no way I would have been able to get as much from the lesson of either of my parents had actively observed, especially my father. He coached my soccer team when I was this girl’s age, and we butted heads A LOT.
There's a recent article in The Strad in which Viktoria Mullova mentions her father starting her off on the violin, learning alongside her.
Thanks for all sharing. What a relief:), it seems some grown ups agree that active parents involvement is not always necessary. I have no intention to raise up a professional or amateur violinist, just think music education is a necessity. I am neither a fan of speeding up kids, I know a bunch of people who were really talented kids and turned out to be normal people without a childhood. That might be a reason why I go to the other extreme, maybe respect kids too much, spoiling? On the other side, I think it's easier for my kids to learn how to surpass difficulties and how small steps go a long way gradually, in the areas which they are interested in or relatively good at. Thus, I truly want my daughter to keep a longer interest in violin learning.
"I have no intention to raise up a professional or amateur violinist, just think music education is a necessity."
"Since they only act as a reminder to the child that their music isn't cared about"
"too much time allocated in violin"
> my daughter thinks it is more comfortable for her to learn when parents are not presented.
I started taking violin lessons at 11, so this may make a difference. But I would have been mightily annoyed if my mother had been micromanaging my progress. She used to prod me to practice though, saying she couldn't afford to pay for lessons I couldn't be bothered to prepare for; "unfortunately" everybody can hear if their child is practicing...
---"Frankly if a child is not yet mature enough to digest lessons on his/her own, isn't it better to just wait a few years? For all of us who are not Hilary Hahn those years won't make much difference at the age of 20."---
"For all of us who are not Hilary Hahn those years won't make much difference at the age of 20."
Tammuz Kolenyo, here's a quotation from a 1991 article (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-12-15/news/1991349004_1_jascha-brodsky-steve-hahn-hilary/2) about Hilary Hahn and her father:
You say you have a good and kind teacher and instead of looking to the teacher for lead, you are asking a crowd of anonymous people?
Carlos, I second you in trusting the teacher. I was not going to ask for any micro level advice, but wanted to seek for ideas to boost the interest and focused practicing. My daughter has learned for over 1.5 years, I've never said one word about her mistakes or how should she practice, though I don't have deaf ears and have some basic music knowledge.
Carlos, what if the teacher was not all that you had in mind?
There are many ways up the mountain; don't feel like you have to pick one path or fail. Between being a violin student, violin parent, and violin teacher, I've seen it all. To reiterate, violin has a dropout rate of 80 something percent. That's really high, and I think as much due to all or nothing approaches by parents and teachers as to the difficulty of the instrument. Don't worry about the other parents in the orchestra- time will tell. My high school's concert master (a Texas All State violinist) had very controlling parents, and hasn't touched his violin since he graduated high school 20 something years ago. One of my students had a late start to violin (age 10), and her mom was made to feel bad about it by the orchestra moms. She's now outpaced that group and made top youth orchestra in our city. We hear lots of advice from tiger parents and teachers about high levels of parental involvement, but nothing at all from the kids who are the recipients of it. There is a connection between overly involved parents and adult anxiety disorders. (I think some parents also confuse involvement and control.) Have you asked your daughter what she wants you to do? Does she want you to sit in on her lessons, or would she rather that be her thing?
I agree with all of the points about giving children space. Some societies, especially English-speaking ones, seem to have evolved in the past few decades into stripping children of every last shred of autonomy and privacy in favor of round-the-clock supervision and control. Parents are even seeing more legal trouble for not being essentially helicopter parents.
Im not really educated on the subject but it seems to me that there is no shortage of famous violinists who didn't come from rich families at all.
Jeez, guys, you DO realize parents can be heavily involved in the pursuit of violin without being crazy controlling tiger parents, right? And without taking autonomy from other aspects of their lives?
I was deliberately a bit provocative in my post above. This is why: When I was 12 my mother let me go on hours long bike rides without even asking where I was going, so long as I was back in time for the meals. How manyy kids have this sort of freedom nowadays? And or course my parents had even more such freedoms in their own youths (though they were also asked to work more at home).
Erik, I did make the distinction between 'controlling' and 'involved.' Controlling parents are always bad; however, it's important to recognize that some students don't want or need their parents involved, and that's okay too. It doesn't make you a bad parent, it won't make your kid a bad musician.
Julie said: ---"it's important to recognize that some students don't want or need their parents involved, and that's okay too. It doesn't make you a bad parent, it won't make your kid a bad musician"---
I have taught a few students ( in violin/viola, music theory, and math ) and there were sometimes some extenuating circumstances as to why it was impossible for the parents to be involved. It would have been awful of me not to accommodate. One was part of a program for low-income elementary school students. I taught him for free, his parents only spoke Spanish, and the dad was a low-functioning alcoholic. One kid was a homeless teen who took the bus to meet me every weekend and I think he may have been in and out of the foster care system.
J Ray, it is off topic, but I don't agree with that there is much connection between "music appreciation" and "greater parental involvement", especially if the involvement refers to parent learning the instrument and guiding into details. On the contrary, I doubt that too much parental invovolment might lead music education to the other direction, which means ruin the love of music. I value free choices and free time a lot in kids' development. It could be cultural difference or personality related. But I did see some talented kids, who were too busy and supervised too well, struggled in finding meanings of life when they became independent, though not in violin playing.
J Ray, thanks for giving me a English lesson:). I've never connected music education to school admission or job paying in the future. I appreciate parents who provide opportunities to let kids explore the world in their own ways. It may sound a little bit irrational and illogical, but I treat the investment in education as sunk cost. World is diversified, I understand some parents like graded exams to evaluate their investments, some others take it as a chance to improve their own abilities in certain areas, and some enjoy doing together with their kids as it is family time. Since my kids are rather young now, I don't consider too much when they ask for some courses. Of course, if they really show interests even after encounter small difficulties, I tend to encourage them to work hard and dig into it. That is the initiation of my post, how to motivate and encourage kids in violin practicing. However, I like loose management.
What I mean "struggling in finding meanings of life", has nothing to do with contribution to the society or a decent job, but fighting with depression because do not know where their true interests lie.
J Ray, thanks for your kindness. I am sorry that I seldom use English since graduated, but I have much less difficulties in reading. Hopefully I've understood your suggestions right.
Sophia, I think you're right. I think there is a major difference between America and Europe. Overhere, it's not common for parents to sit in class (besides Suzuki). That has nothing to do with how supportive you are.
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