to insist my DS (7) carries on with violin lessons?(62 Posts)
I couldn't figure out where to post this (is there a music lessons topic?) but my DS (7 years old) has been doing violin lessons at school for one term (we are very lucky that there is an instrumental society here that does this for free) and while he was keen the first few weeks it is becoming a real struggle to get him to practice. Cue loads of moaning and drama and a practice that should take 10 minutes getting dragged into half an hour due to his moaning and dragging his feet.
Has anyone else dealt with this and had their dc come out the other side and enjoy their instrument? Should we persevere (his tutor is very pleased with his progress) or call it a day? He has form for quitting things. He quit karate after 3 lessons and tried to quit his after-school activity towards the end of last term, and has tried to quit Beavers a couple times. I let him 'quit' Beavers before last summer hols and the day before it started again in the fall term he said he wanted to go back and luckily he was able to, but has since said he wants to quit again! . He isn't over-scheduled activity wise. He does beavers and swimming once a week (no after school activity this term).
Is the moaning about practicing a universal experience? So many people have told me how they wished their parents had pushed them to keep at their musical instrument as a child, but I don't want to be too pushy with him. WIBU to have him carry on at least one more term?
Sorry, I should have been more clear: the after school activity last term was only one afternoon a week.
No i would not force a 7 year old to learn the musicial instrument. I would let him give it up but be willing to take him again if his interest comes back.
Dd1 did piano lessons in the summer, she only lasted 2 terms, i was gutted as we spent a fortune on lessons and books, her teacher said she was picking it up very fast but dd1 would not practice enough at home and hated being taken out of play times and lunch times for lessons. In the end we gave in and let her give up. I dont think its good to push them (ok to give them a gentle nudge though), if they are not interested then they wont do well in it. Some children get really into music and others dont.
I am now onto dc number 3 starting activities, they all start enthusiastic, and want to quit after a while, unless they discover it is a passion. I have found that telling them they can stop at the end of term as that is when have paid to (ballet, disco dancing, highland dancing, jujitsu) helped, but then allowing them to go back next term if they want to kept them a things until they were sure. (DD1 'quit' then restarted ballet 3 times before she finally made her mind up to switch to horse riding instead, never missed a lesson while deciding).
As for music, I was never pushed to practice, gave up, regretted it. Pushed DS to practice violin (exp took it to extremes), he played for 10 years, quit as soon as exp left, but has just got the guitar he asked for at Christmas. I would say somewhere in the middle is better.
Tell him it is time to do his practice, if he has a a length of time to practice, set a timer for him and let him get on with it, if he has to play each piece 3 times, then keep him at it until that is done, but don't drag it out, and don't send him back to do it again, just like homework, it is the teachers job to correct mistakes and if you make the practice time unplesent he will never enjoy it.
You're setting yourself up for a life a misery if you force your DS to play an instrument he doesn't want to play. Music doesn't work like that. Is he at all talented? Does he enjoy the lessons despite not wanting to practise? What does his teacher say? I understand you want him to stick to something but 7 YO is still very young. In any case, the extra curricular activities forum within Education will have a lot of helpful 'musical' parents with great advice.
I played to violin from 7-10 and then my parents let me give it up because I got bored of it.
I've regretted it for years but of course,don't have the money to take up lessons again now.
Yes Marne that's a big thing with him, he hates missing play time to practice.
I teach piano and as soon as the novelty of the first couple of lessons goes and they realise that they won't become a pro after five lessons they start to moan about practice! It takes a long time to truly become good at an instrument! I would make him persevere until a year and half so at least he will be giving himself a chance to get more fluent and then he can make an informed decision! I wanted to give up piano when I was young at different stages and felt hard done by when I had to practice BUT I am soooo glad my mom made me stay at it as it is now my career and I LOVE it!
Learning a musical instrument is a discipline. Especially a stringed instrument like the violin which is technically v difficult. . It doesn't become "fun" for quite a while unfortunately. If you could get him to do 5 mins a day most days of the week that would be fine. Can you do some sort of reward system? IME the child who just loves to practice in the early stages is pretty rare.
I have just gone through this with my 9 year old. He pestered me for years to do guitar lessons and I finally relented, paying for a good guitar, a case, £140 of lessons over a term and... he stopped. He started by dragging his feet, throwing a tantrum about practising and generally being difficult. He would say he wanted to stop but I persisted because I had spent a lot of money and he was becoming very good towards the end. Then one day the guitar tutor e-mailed to verify that he was quitting. He had told the teacher. So that was that. I couldn't force him and I just had to give up my dream about having a musically gifted son because by that point it was all my dream, not his.
You could keep him doing the lessons but if he dislikes them then is he really going to learn anything? That's what it came down to for us but I know of families where music lessons are a requirement.
Well is it just the practice that he doesn't like or the lessons also?? If he enjoys the lessons then I would make him stick at it!
Crazy I sympathise with the frustration. I'm heavily involved in music education and have a DD studying violin as well.
First of all, the first term of violin is always, always SHIT. It is a fiendishly difficult instrument, perhaps THE hardest of all. There are so many elements to get right - the left hand holding the violin, the left hand fingering, bow hold, then bowing - before you even make a sound. Compare this with a piano where you can just go and plonk, make a perfectly nice note.
Everything is difficult to begin with in violin. However, if you and your DC persist, the thrill of making music with this wonderful bit of wood is fantastic.
My advice is twofold:
1) Are you committed to this? YOU. If you are then ignore what your DC says and persevere. If you are not then consider whether you want to continue. I find it totally unreasonable to expect commitment from a young child. Especially as they can't play yet. As the saying goes "nothing's fun until you're good at it". This is very very true with music.
2) You must insist on daily practise. It can be a short practice of 15 minutes (I'd go for 20 minutes if it's going well) but it must be regular. If you can do it, try mornings, as kids are fresher then. But not only should it be regular (6 times a week) but it's helpful if you have a regular time slot, so it becomes part of the normal everyday routine - get dressed, breakfast, brush teeth, violin, shoes on...etc. Don't expect it to be fun, just get it done.
It was never our idea he take lessons initially. The music service go round the schools and play samples of popular tunes (eg. the Star Wars theme tune) to hook prospective students. So he came home with the flyer saying he wanted to play. While I would be thrilled if he did develop a passion for it, we have told him that equally it's okay if he doesn't want to play. Problem is he's so obsessed with Minecraft at the moment that hardly anything else gets a look in!
Very helpful replies from you all, thank you. He appears to enjoy the actual lessons at school. Maybe we'll try to stick it out spring term and see how it goes.
DS took up cello age 7. Didn't practise ever for four years just took the lessons. I thought it positive that he never talked about giving it up but went through various patches of annoyance that he could be further ahead if he'd practised. Age 11 he fell in love with it and started practising, got a run of distinctions/merits now and is grade 6. I kick myself that I threatened to stop the lessons as he wasn't practising. Thankfully I backed off. Not saying it could/would work out this way with you and your DS but thought I'd give you another perspective. (He now plays 3 instrument - 2 at grade 6'ish/grade 7 level, the other self taught.) Age 7 is very young in my view and takes ages to get competent, especially on strings I'd say. If he's happy to just do the lessons I'd allow that for a couple of years. What prompted my DS to pick up the pace a bit was a girl a year younger taking grade 1 before him. After that it was so much part of his life after 4 years he kept it up.
I started at 9 learning the violin and desperately wanted to quit at 11 to learn the clarinet (there was a rule at school that you could only qualify for one free lesson per instrument - very sensible in hindsight but couldn't understand it at the time!)
My mum, having forked out for my own violin, insisted I continued so I did. I went on to play at quite a high level and could have gone on to music school (had the opportunity and rejected it in the way only a rebellious 18 yr old can) but the pleasure I still get from playing is immeasurable.
7 is still quite young and the violin is so challenging. I would weigh up if he has a natural aptitude to the instrument and music generally before deciding - no decision is ever final as he can always start again but I needed lots of encouragement to practice even as an arrogant teen.
We have 4 kids and the three eldest play the piano. The first month or so seem to be okay, then they realised they had to practice and didn't want to. I have just tied in the daily practice into their daily routine ( they do an hours homework and music practice a day) and at time it's been hard work forcing them to do it, but eventually, they have come out the other side, realised they can do it and now they practice with minimal fuss.
They are all quite good at music and have taken up other instruments as well. If they really had no talent at all, I don't know I'd have bothered.
I've told them all they can give up piano when they pass grade 5. DD1 has just passed her grade 4, but says she plans to keep going once she's done grade 5- we'll see as she'll be at secondary school then and will probably be quite busy.
I did that with DS1, years of
nagging reminding him to practice and eventually agreeing to him quitting.
I didn't bother for DS2
Life is too short IMO
I think the true turning point for me was getting in to play with a local junior orchestra. Playing in that was fantastic - after that I wanted to get better for myself because I HAD to be a first violinist and not a lowly third
It was local orchestra that did it for me too. I loved playing in a group and the social side was excellent. I started at seven and played all the way through school and college until I was 22 and had no time for practicing (junior doctor). My Parents certainly encouraged me along the way - and the first year is definitely the hardest. I would love to have lessons again - it is on my list of things I want to do when I retire!
I'd just let him quit. Its not essential and life is too short for children to spend time moaning and being grumpy about something they don't need to do.
I would let him give up. Swimming was compulsory for my DC's, as was sticking things out for a term if they started something. This seemed very lenient and low key compared with many of their friends. My three DC's are close in age and I couldn't be bothered to 'make' them do things. They used to get on fairly well for siblings so I didn't have to look for ways to keep them busy.
Now that they are Uni or nearly Uni age they all play a couple of sports each (for fun!) They have no problems sticking to things.
My dc(8) was the same at times . He wants to learn it without practice . Practice for 5 or 10t minute at time for. My phone wouldn't doesn't preview messages so I hope this makes sense. It seems your ds2 is good at starting ththings !
In battle hymn of the tiger mother, the author explains tha what Chinese parents know is that nothing is fun until you are good at it, and it is the parents' job to force you to practice until you are good. She turned out two musical "prodigies". It's an interesting read.
I started learning violin as an adult - and learnt to read music then too - and it is technically a very difficult instrument to master. I wish I'd been able to read music before i started, so i wasn't having to grapple with both those things initially.
Would your dc prefer to play another instrument that could be easier to get a reasonable tune out of more quickly than the violin (and therefore he might be more encouraged to practise), learn basic music as he goes and possibly return to the violin at a later date?
I also think 7 is quite young to start playing a musical instrument - here in Holland most children don't start to play one (apart from maybe recorder) until they are about 8.
My dd (almost 9) started the flute last year and really struggled at first and didn't want to practice at all. It's only in the last 3-4 months that she has really started enjoying it and picking up her flute a lot at home to practice without prompting.
A Dutch friend of mine is a children's violin teacher and she is very anti children starting music lessons too young - it IS really hard at first, especially with wind and string instruments, and don't forget they are also having to learn how to read music at the same time.
One thing that really helps her with practice is to set a timer for 10 minutes, let her go off and practice whichever pieces she wants in that time, and then come back and give me a 'concert' where I sit down on the sofa and she plays me something that she's practiced. It makes her feel really good. Maybe you could see if something like that works with your ds?
My dd has lessons with 2 other girls and I think that also helps to make it more fun - don't know if your ds's lessons are individual or group? There also seems to be no mention here (so far) of exams, which I think is great, as I want my dd to play purely for enjoyment at the moment - they've got years of exams ahead of them.
I'd say that if your ds is enjoying the actual lessons and is making progress, and it's (only) the practice that's the issue, maybe try to go with that for a while until he's ready to do it willingly.
We have similar situation. Ds is 8 and has had four terms of Keyboard lessons. He has ASD and is reluctant to practice at home. He also gets stressed on the day of his lesson. and complains about missing playtime He is taught in school but lesson aren't free.
I have been thinking about letting him quit and his 121 at school has been hinting that I should let him quit. The reasons that I have made him continue so far, are not due to talent but to help improve his fine motor skills and I hoped it would allow him to express himself.
I haven't paid next terms fees yet, can't make my mind up.
Haha spanky2 he is very good at starting things!
pollyblue we did suggest recorder ( I played in primary school) but the lessons are at lunchtime and he doesn't want to miss out on playtime! Incidentally, how long ago did you start learning violin? Watching my DS learning has awakened an urge in me to learn violin.
Does he like the violin in general? If he doesn't like the sound of violin music then he probably won't ever become hugely interested. If he likes violin music I would make him continue for another term at least (I'm one of those people that wishes my parents had forced me to as a child!), if he doesn't I would let him drop it, but ask if there was another instrument he would like to learn.
If there is a particular instrument he likes then I would try and help him learn to play that. I learnt how to play keyboard and guitar as an adult but is far harder now as I can't afford lessons so everything is self taught. I had piano lessons at school as a child which I gave up (social life was more interesting), but I really regret it now and really wish my parents had insisted I continue, I won't get that opportunity again. I think parents have to nag about practise for a while with any instrument, because it is difficult to learn and in the beginning they generally sound crap! Once you are at the point you can play a recognisable tune it gets much more enjoyable. I think you have to judge whether or not he seems musical and whether or not you think he will regret not learning later.
No, no exams. And they are very big on 'little and often' with practice.
He does enjoy violin music. We showed him the YouTube videos of the Game of Thrones theme tune being played on violin plus The Devil went Down to Georgia and he really enjoys them.
My DS1 was a bit like this with the piano to start with. It takes some perseverance to get past that first stage of the learning curve. He loves it now and is about to do his Grade 3.
I would expect my children to keep persevering for 12-18 months then if they still aren't making any progress or really not enjoying it, then I'd let them give up.
Regarding reluctance to practice, we used bribery in the initial stages; ten minutes of practice earns ten minutes on Club Penguin or whatever. They now all just do the practice without needing to be bribed as it's part of their routine.
My mum 'made' me play the cello from the age of 7 through to 17 when I finally quit (she was a music teacher and there was a huge amount of emotional pressure/blackmail). I don't regret giving up for a minute, I just regret the rows, unhappiness and time that I spent practising.
I never suggested ds1 or ds2 did anything musical and waited until they pestered me. DS1 sings in 2 choirs, has singing lessons and is generally very committed to it. DS2 has turned out to be pretty damn good at the saxophone but he knows that the deal is practice = lessons. No practice = no lessons. There is never much fuss about doing practice.
So my experience is that the passion has to be there to start with and forced practice = misery and a waste of time. However, I know other people have found that once you get past the early stages that kids enjoy it/may regret giving up when they get older.
Personally, I think I wouldn't be forcing a reluctant 7 yo to practice as life is too short IME.
OP... have you ever learned a stringed instrument? Very hard, with little satisfaction at the beginning. I am speaking as a child who learned cello from age 7, a primary school teacher, a parent of 2 dcs and a long term peripatetic music teacher yo primary age children.
IMO, today's kids are very much of the "I want it all, now, and without much effort" school. Not their fault. We had it differently.
I am very much of the thinking that music is exceptionally worthwhile. It helps with literacy, numeracy, concentration, relaxation, perseverance, teamwork and self esteem. To name but a few.
I would lay off the practise schedule for a while until your ds is keener but I wouldn't let him give up after a term. In the grand scheme of things, that's nothing in trying to play a violin, and hopefully he'll improve and be proud of future achievements.
Im always saddened when parents also have the "fuck it, let them quit" mentality. It's also teaching a valuable life lesson. Stick with things.
crazy i started a year ago, after 'meaning to' for about 20 years
It is an absolute bugger to start with, and the only thing for a while that kept me persevering with practice was hating going to a lesson knowing i hadn't put the work in. But i found it a lot harder than i was expecting and did get disheartened occassionally. But i really want to learn, and i'm up and running now and glad i stuck with it.
My tutor is completely fab, and that imo is crucial too.
I do agree with chocolates post - learning music adds so much to a childs education - and can open so many doors for them - and it makes me a bit grrr that it's still seen as an optional extra compared to the 'usual' curriculum subjects.
as an afterthought - is your dc purely getting fed up because of the time spent practising, or is he finding the violin physically uncomfortable, and therefore gets achey and wants to stop? If that's the case it might be worth looking at a different shoulder or chin rest for him.
Your child, your judgement call. I think that having your son carry on for another term is OK, and I agree with ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy that its worth persevering for 12 to 18 months.
My son didn't get on with violin and did far better with guitar. Even so there are days he does not feel like practice. There are ways of making practice more fun. I will start another thread for ideas.
Things that helped my son are having small targets. Praising effort and joining social music groups like an orchestra/ guitar emsemble.
Maybe you could ask your neighbours' opinion on this one.
My DCs play the violin and it can be hard getting them to practise at first. I think the problem is that it takes a fair time to be able to get a decent tune out if a violin do in the early stages the practising isn't that interesting.
I wouldn't allow him to give up if he's enjoying the lessons.
Ds started drumming at 6 at home ( dad a drummer ) it became apparent quickly that he was good at it.
He's 13 now and is advanced way beyond his years. He has to practise every day for two hours. He doesn't always want to but we have always been strict and pushed him. He's hoping to make a career out of it so he has to knuckle down.
I would say don't let him quit just yet. Keep him with his lessons at school and short practise lessons at home.. maybe with a little bribe after.
Ds ( 6 ) has just got his first kit this Christmas so he's now on small lessons too.. <I'll never be sane>
Music is often underrated imo. Keep going.
Thanks again for all the great advice. You are all very encouraging! Will definitely stick with the lessons for next term, and maybe introduce a bit of Minecraft bribery when it comes to practice
My parents made me play the violin from the age of 7 to 13. I hated it and was rubbish at it so I don't understand why they made me do it. Also I learnt Suzuki method so I couln't read music at all. Don't waste your money or your blood pressure. The happy end to my story is I took the piano up 5 years ago (and learnt to read music) and have just passed my grade 3 at the tender age of 40! Nobody nags me to practice, though I often have to tell my kids to bugger off so I can practice.
Ds3 & 4 started the violin just over a year again at 7. They barely practiced for the first year because they put up such a fight about it. They enjoyed the lessons and made good progress so I left them to it. Now they are good at practicing, as long as they do it as soon as they get in from school otherwise they don't want to interrupt whatever they're doing.
I had group (free) violin lessons at school from 8 or so, parents never nagged me to practice, left it up to me, so for a long time would just struggle through the lessons, then got better, got a private teacher at secondary school, and continued right through to grade 8. Lots of good times with local youth orchestra etc. think it did help with academic work through the discipline, using brain differently, being a change etc. Gave up immediately at uni, don't regret it except v occasionally.
Agree with others that is v good to join any local junior string groups.
I was forced to learn the violin from age 5 to 15. I passed grades, did orchestra & hated every second. Its physically demanding to play and I got much more pleasure from playing piano. Never regretted giving up the violin, I just wish my DM had listened to what I wanted rather than projecting what she wished she had done herself onto me. Waste of everyone's time.
Let your DS find his own way with music. The people I know who are really committed to playing are those who started a little later (secondary age, say) because they were fired up by it. You can't force a love of playing.
my reply will be hideously biased. I started violin lessons aged 7 (I think? Maybe 8) and gave it up when I was 13 or 14. I HATED it. Of course at first I thought it was exciting etc but my teacher was a hideous bully who should never have been working with children. I BEGGED my parents to let me quit and they wouldn't, thinking I would regret it later in life. that bitch caused me years of misery and my self esteem still hasn't recovered. I'm in my late 20s now. I developed severe trichotillomania when I was 10 due to the stress I felt and revert back to it now in stressful situations. I was literally ripping my hair out and I still wasn't allowed to stop. My parents now know that it was caused by her and the stress of the whole situation and couldn't be more regretful and apologetic. But I will never forget the panic of knowing I had a lesson in 6 days/5 days/ an hour.
so my advice would be no, don't force him. But obviously I am an extreme example!
I just reread that and realise it was an inappropriate emotional spew all over your thread. Sorry
My DD (only 5 bless her!) is learning violin. She is struggling after an initial burst of interest. She's asked to switch to piano, but it can't be done until the next academic year.
I've said she can't stop but needs to see the year through - it's not onerous, only 20 minutes lesson a week and I don't ask her to practice more than a couple of times a week. She has rallied a bit and with lots of enthusiastic support will practice.
I've suggested to her that even if she doesn't like that instrument, it is useful to be learning and she will also be learning about music which is worth doing.
She's not loving it, but neither is she hating it and I'd really like her to get that practice in the end will be worthwhile.
But as she is so little, I don't force her to engage with it too much. I think it's also important for her at this age to enjoy what she does. She enjoys pootling away to herself on the piano and we also have some other instruments in the house that she has access to, as and when she wants.
somedayma - thank you for sharing your experience - it is worth seeing that perspective too.
I tried to play the violin at around 8yrs old and I was terrible at it. I could read music ok and liked music but couldn't get anything that sounded even vaguely musical from the violin. I gave up after grade 2.
Looking back I'm glad that I wasn't forced to carry on as I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have got much better. I do wish however that I'd had an opportunity to learn the piano since, whilst I was never going to be a concert pianist, I think it would have been much more fun than the violin.
My advice would be to ask your DS to give it one more term with the deal being that, if he practices for 15mins per day and still hates it at Easter, he can give it up with no more questions asked.
Does he actually enjoy his lessons and want to carry on? If so, maybe negotiate 2 or so practices a week rather than every day. It takes years to make good progress on a string instrument; maybe it is not the instrument for him.
My DD2 made no progress on violin but does drum kit and piano instead. DD1 took up flute after getting to grade 4 violin and likes that much better and piano as well and is currently doing grade 6 in each. Neither of my children practice every day.
I made mine carry on with piano for quite a while after they wanted to stop. It did no good. But DD has tried the guitar since so I don't suppose it put them off for life. I think at seven if he hates it he should quit.
I agree with the posters above who say practice for 15 mins a day. My dc were both at that foot-dragging stage with their instruments (inc. violin) and now the practice is a part of every day, they hardly notice they're doing it. The standard of their playing has gone up massively, and they get so much more pleasure from it now. My dd has now played the violin for a year, and it has been a long hard road, but she can now play pretty much anything she wants to, and loves it. Another thing to look into is folk music and learning by ear - there is a group where we live, but it might be worth seeing if there is anything similar near to you. Or even just going along to get inspired at a folk session. (I've found it's a lot 'cooler' to an 8yr old than classical music)
I was forced to play the piano from age 6 to 15. I HATED every single moment - even though I got up to grade 8. I can't stand the sound of bloody classical piano to this day. By all means encourage your DS to carry on, but if he isn't enjoying it, let him quit before it gets out of hand.
Most children hate the early stages. Most adults who gave up now regret it. OP, don't know where you're based but it's worth searching out a local Saturday music centre where your DS can associate music-making with sociability as well as seeing teens involved and enthusiastic.
My DC play piano, string and various wind instruments. They'll never be virtuosi but are now really good standard and strong ensemble players. They can also arrange songs - quite useful in bands etc!
Unless your child has zero talent it's worth persevering - music is a life skill. I always told the DCs they were never allowed to give up but if they weren't clicking with a teacher I'd just make it my business to find a new one. This has worked with both my DCs at different times. It's been worth all the nagging (they still don't practise much!)
I'm another person who was made to learn the violin by their parents and hated it. My mother let me give up a year later after I scraped through my grade 1 (or maybe I failed it - seems more likely!). I played 3rd violin in the second orchestra and hated that too. Mainly because I was really rubbish, and the sounds that came out of the violin were quite painful. I've never regretted giving it up.
My eldest sister also tried and failed with the violin (which is why it was given to me instead). My middle sister learned the flute after listening to James Gallway, and then picked up the cello. She got pretty good at both of them, up to grade 8 and in the top school orchestra. Hasn't payed either since she left school though, whereas I sang with a choir for several years re children.
I don't think forcing anyone into something they don't enjoy and aren't good at is particularly beneficial.
Mine have both played instruments badly and given up.
The contrast in their attitudes to instrument lessons compared with singing DD1 and Ballet DD2 is amazing.
They practice, they get ready reasonably on time and they don't moan.
DD1 doesn't even moan when choir gets in the way of things that she'd probably find fun.
mine has just gone through the other side with violin. Initially he always wanted to attend the lessons and not practice. We never pushed the daily practice really but just made sure he had a last min pre lesson practice. It was all a bit half hearted really. After about two years of this I decided we had to call it a day and stop the lessons as it was a waste of money. We wrote a letter explaining that DS was stopping. His teacher told him it would be such a shame if he gave up and suddenly from nowhere, DS wanted to practice. He now practices ever day term time and is willing.
If the lessons are free, continue but agree to practice only at the weekend maybe?
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