Corona and how to switch a child to self-practise?
Right, so, here I am again with problems looking for creative answers :)
So my child is now 7 (started a bit before 3 and is now in Book 5 Vivaldi g minor 3rd movement) and we have been having a lot of problems with practise during this year and to top it off with corona and videolessons I am quite fed up. Violin is now a problem, not a creative hobby. As we have been doing Suzuki I have practised with my child all these 4,5 years and it has sometimes been easy and sometimes rough but she is now 7 and I just cannot take any more arguing while practising.
I made the decision of switching her to a new traditional teacher in a conservatorium and she is starting there next autumn. And I did that in the hope that I could step aside and just remind her to practise not to be forced to practise with her. And also to get a different type of teaching. So its a conservatory and the teacher is a very good teacher and there are other talented kids so I thought that maybe she will find more motivations there. If only she could get there.....
But then came this bloody corona and now only videolessons as I am in a risk group and cannot take any chances not even in the autumn. So what to do?
Am I just going to let her practise herself even though she really cannot do it properly. I know she will just practise mistakes and as there are no proper lessons what is the point of practising mistakes?
Or are we just going to quit? She really doesnt want to quit but she has got into the habit of being difficult when everything just doesnt go perfectly and she is reminded of the mistakes that need correcting. What do other people do in similar situations? I cannot be the only one who has a 7 year old who wants to do everything herself and preferable just open the ipad instead of practising even though she really likes her violin and likes playing. She just does not want to make the effort. Quite normal for a 7 year old. The problem is how to go forward now.
Just stick and practise with her even though I do not really want to do it anymore? Or just count minutes and tell her to practise herself however she wants? Or set a timer and tell her to practise a few bars as many times she can fit into the time? Or qive up?
If you quit playing with your daughter because "I do not really want to do it anymore" you are telling your daughter it's alright to quit because she doesn't want to do it anymore. Which will of course remove the fighting and arguing but it won't be good for your daughter, since she has come this far.
I had a lot of trouble with one of my kids around age 7 (the other was fine) and during much of that year, we were practicing via Skype because my oldest was in the pediatric ICU for months on end. It is definitely extremely challenging for some kids, and the video stuff doesn't help.
Thanks David and Susan.
Thanks for sharing with us what is working -- I hope that you and your daughter find continued success in keeping her practicing and hopefully enjoying the journey!
As a parent of a 9 year-old strong willed daughter who's been playing since 3, I completely empathize!!!! My last 6 years of being daily practice coach->assistant->close supervisor have not been for the faint of heart. Many many tears have been shed (both hers and mine!).
Maria, you are certainly not the only one who is struggling through the pandemic. Parenting is challenging enough as it is but add COVID-19 and distance learning, it became so miserable. Trust me, you are not alone in this.
One should have a very strong motivation to do something. We eat because we are hungry. We go to work because we need money, unless we get pleasure. Etc.
I think it is hard to be helpful, and not be overwhelming as a parent. You really have to pick which hill you die on in my experience.
Something to consider is simply that your daughter is now firmly in the "intermediate" stage of playing, which is the time at which practice habits need to change in order to make forward progress (talented people seem to be able to get to this stage without thinking too much about *how* they're practicing, but they always hit a wall eventually....less talented people need to employ smart practice strategies much sooner).
Sounds like a convergence of violin pedagogy and typical parenting issues -- that can be turbulent water indeed.
Excellent replies here already, mine's not to show "how" but rather to reflect on this post and jot down some thoughts.
Hi to all of you,
It is completely normal to have this issue and every kid is different, but here is a possible solution especially with the issue of corona.
This could be a translation issue, but if you're actually only timing the seconds when the bow is touching the strings that sounds counterproductive to me - an important part of practicing is learning how to stop and think about what you've just played instead of mindlessly playing over and over.
My violin lessons started when I was 4-1/2. I remember the day about 18 months later when I decided not to practice. When my father came home form work that evening he asked me if I had practiced. I replied that I had - and he spanked me. This was the only spanking I remember ever receiving. He told me that he spanked m because I had lied to him, not because I had not practiced. I can't remember when I found out that he knew because my violin case, which I kept under our baby-grand piano had not been moved from where it was when he left for work that morning. But I do remember self-debating whether to move it the next time I didn't want to practice, or whether to practice anyway.
I think that children go through a transition at the intermediate level that may be to some degree age-independent, at which they become knowledgeable enough about the instrument to not want to listen to a parent who doesn't themselves play, because the parent's feedback becomes frustrating instead of helpful. (Not listening to a violin-playing parent comes from different roots of independence.)
Lydia said: "Watch a 13-year-old who has done Suzuki parent-supervised practice for the last ten years, and there's a good chance that they are utterly helpless to self-critique and self-structure a practice session."
I think Lydia is spot on, as always.
I feel like everyone is overestimating the cognitive and physical independence of a 7 year old. My daughter at 7 years old, 2nd grade, couldn’t be reliably be expected to tie a tight knot with her shoe lace as to not to have it untie during the day. Neither could most of her classmates. That’s why most shoes at that age use Velcro or slip on. She also couldn’t brush her long curly hair or braid it or shampoo/condition perfectly without help. Lastly, do you know of a modern day 7 year old who can cook? We wouldn’t think of letting them use a knife even with supervision. Then why do we expect them to be able to learn and practice violin independently, which you all say is one of the hardest instruments? In terms of cognition required to play violin, imagine a 7 year old memorize a 4 page essay or doing math with fractions. Would that require some adult help in breaking it down the hard concepts into digestible pieces and encourage some practice with repetition? I wouldn’t expect an average 2nd grader to spontaneously and passionately pick up a pencil every day to do math problems, yet I still want her to do her math homework despite the fact that I don’t expect her to grow up to be a professional mathematician.
I was convincing myself to stay out of this one the whole time, but Liyun said it. That's a CRAZY amount of pressure on a 7 year old. If you want your 7 year old to practice regularly, YOU will have to do a LOT of work. This isn't Dougie Howser MD, and I'm assuming your child isn't some autistic savant.
I read a lot of recognition here. I have a daughter who just turned 8, I think on a similar level (she is now learning Boy Paganini and Rieding 21). We don't do a Suzuki and live in Europe, so our situation is different I think. Here it is common (and undesirable!) that a parent is present at the lessons. The learning process is something between the teacher and the child. After the lesson I speak briefly with the teacher and at home I look at what is written in the notebook. What I do next is put all the homework in a sheet: the order of practice (starting with the scales, then the piece she likes best, then etudes, then a piece to refine etc.) and how to practice (for example: play slowly once, practice difficult pieces 3x, play again, etc.). After finishing one of the tasks she colors the box, which she likes to do. This way I can walk away when needed at here practice (for example when one of the other kids needs me).
I agree with George. It's up to the individual. When my grandson was five, he had a massive interest in dinosaurs. He couldn't get enough of them, he could rattle off over 100 species, and their geological period,. Then one day he didn't care about them. He thought something was wrong with himself. I told him he was fine, People - children especially - are allowed to change their minds, to explore what they wish and to seek their own path.
I am not a parent. But I was a child who was subjected to the kind of bullying and controlling behaviour at the hands of my parents to get me to practice that I see people advocating here - my mother once told me that if I stopped playing the violin I would have to find somewhere else to live (I was 14 at the time). The outcome for me was huge, unbounded anger towards them which saw me put the violin away as soon as I was independent of them (I did this to punish them) and it was 35 years before I got it out again. The effect on my relationship with my parents was profound - I'm in my mid-fifties now and still haven't forgiven them.
Tony, I am sorry about what you went through as a child. I hope you will find a way to resolve your conflict with your parents and re-build your relationship.
Liyun - thank you for your kind words. My parents, my mother in particular, were most definitely bullying and controlling. I doubt they realised it (they have both passed now), but their ambition wasn't mine, and that's really the start and end of the issue. They wanted me to do something that had immense personal cost to me (and I'm not just referring to the time in the practice room) but it was for their gain, not mine. It's incidental that I have learnt to love playing again - my desires didn't come into it when I was a child.
"When she walked into her lesson and asked to play, 'Great Balls of Fire' by Jerry Lee Lewis, her teacher grew offended. My daughter quit, and I backed her decision."
Tony, Im sorry to hear about your childhood. But it does seem quit far from the reality in our family. There is quite a difference in bullying and letting the child do whatever he or she wants. People think differently, some think that children should develop freely. Do what they like and parents use minimum pressure or indeed punishment (and I dont mean physical punishment but things like denying ipad access ;) ) And then there are parents that find it is best to be strict and rational and use effort in guiding the childs way to sdulthood. Who knows what is best? There is no answer as also children are different.
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