A term of violin and cannot play simple basic tune?

(76 Posts)

Is that normal?

She has been doing violin after school since September, they didnt even use the bow till November, she cannot play anything at all not even a very basic couple of notes tune.

Is this normal or am I wasting my money?

sorry I should add lessons are half an hour and there is just dd and one boy in the class.

Chubfuddler Sat 29-Dec-12 16:14:53

So ages had about 12 lessons - are these group or individual? Depends on her age but unsurprising, violin is very slow going. Plus presumably she's having to learn to read music at the same time, which is not to be underestimated.

Chubfuddler Sat 29-Dec-12 16:15:26

X posted. Half hour shared lesson, how much does she practice at home?

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 16:19:25

Is she doing music theory as well, or just the violin lesson?

My DD did a 25 hour intensive piano course in July and then started lessons (with the same teacher) in September - she does 1/2 an hour of individual piano tuition and one hour of music theory in a small group every week. She can now play about 20 very short, simple pieces (think Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old McDonald Had a Farm), reading the music. We were at a friend's house the other day and her two boys, of a similar age to DD, did the same 25 hour intensive course in July but have continued with only 1/2 an hour of shared piano tuition (no theory) every week. They cannot read music at all and knew a couple of tunes from memory.

She's learning the keys needed as she goes along, so if the song has c, g in that's the only notes she knows.

She's 10

I did clarinet which is slightly easier going so no experience of violin, she's practicing most nights but they are only on page 4 of the basic book so not much to practice.

TackyChristmastreedelivery Sat 29-Dec-12 16:24:31

Normal in my experience. They spend a good few weeks plucking like a guitar and then in violin hold and then they try a bow.

The violin is a total bitch tricky to learn so you are looking at a year before you get a tune you recognise. Sorry about that grin

TackyChristmastreedelivery Sat 29-Dec-12 16:25:41

Plus they are learning to read music at the same time. So there is a fair bit going on - it just sounds the absolute pits!

Chubfuddler Sat 29-Dec-12 16:26:32

The physicality of playing the violin is very hard (well I found it hard when I started at seven) - the posture, finger position, now hold etc. I don't think it can really be compared to piano or clarinet (not that those instruments aren't difficult, but you have to do a huge amount of work with a stringed instrument before you get close to producing a pleasant noise).

TackyChristmastreedelivery Sat 29-Dec-12 16:28:20

It is really tricky. My dd has been playing about 2 years (school lessons, 20 mins once a week in a group and now 20 mins solo) and is on pg 15 of the book they use.


"before you get close to producing a pleasant noise). "


GlaikitFizzogTheChristmasElf Sat 29-Dec-12 16:30:01

<passes op ear plugs> you will need them, maybe not soon, but you will! Sorry!

Give it a year, by then she'll have done all the basics. Does she say anything about it?

that's why I asked, there's a Childs in dds class who has done it for 3 and a half years and just done her first exam.

ArkadyRose Sat 29-Dec-12 16:31:10

Violin is very slow going at first, unlike the majority of wind instruments. I'd be very surprised if she manages a recognisable tune in anything under 6 months, to be honest. You certainly won't get much by way of results after only one term. You just have to be patient, encourage her to practice, and keep any disappointment to yourself over the pace so as not to put her off.

She's bored of it Glaik and doesn't want to go anymore but didnt bring the letter home to cancel until after the deadline.

TackyChristmastreedelivery Sat 29-Dec-12 16:32:30

Or learn the piano grin

It seems to be more forgiving.

tugamommy Sat 29-Dec-12 16:33:33

My dd has a 1 to 1 half an hour lesson once a week. She also has half an hour theory and half an hour group playing.
On the first class she learned the string names, how to hold the bow and learned a very simple tune (1 note, playing with her fingers). On the second class she started playing with the bow. By the end of the term she played a simple tune at the concert, maybe 3 notes. Now, another year on, she plays quite complicated tunes, she knows several effects (?) like slurs, staccato, etc., but her reading isn't good at all. Apparentely some children learn the reading well, others prefer to memmorise.

Just to add that she practices a lot less than she should. Maybe 15mins 2-3 times a week.

Oh im not dissapointed arkady, she chose to do it she can plod along how she wants, i was just curious.

tugamommy Sat 29-Dec-12 16:36:10

dd was 5 when she started, btw, she's 7 now.

Chubfuddler Sat 29-Dec-12 16:36:55

If she's bored let her stop. Seriously bloating is hateful if you don't enjoy it.

I was thinking of doing although I would still have to pay for this term as we are past the cancellation date whether she does it or not.

tugamommy Sat 29-Dec-12 16:41:23

I'll disagree with Chubfuddler. We almost stopped the lessons at the end of last year because progress was so slow and dd hated practising. But an extra term made a huge difference. The better she becomes, the more she enjoys it and the faster is the progress.
Definitely worth persevering imo.

TackyChristmastreedelivery Sat 29-Dec-12 16:42:02

Oh stop - count your blessings and write off the money. Or ask if they will let you convert to something else for the rest of term. If she isn't interested now she never ever will be as it takes so so so so so soooooo long before they can knock out twinkle twinkle. It also takes some serious practice and the learning to read music is not to be sniffed at either.

You really have to either want to do it or be one of those kids who just take to maths/music (my dd is the 2nd and finds the violin fairly do-able without actually having an ounce of talent. She'll probably plod to grade 1 or 2, and then when the going gets tough, technical and practise relient, drop it. I am resigned). Or be some sort of musical gifted type.

FrancesFarmer Sat 29-Dec-12 16:44:31

Sounds normal to me. DS started in September and is just now beginning to play notes.

LadyMargolotta Sat 29-Dec-12 16:46:41

Has she had any music lessons at all? If she is learning music for the first time ever, then this is normal. It's taken dd1 a year or more to finally get to grips with the notes for piano, and that's with two music lessons a week - one piano lesson, and one theory lesson. At least piano is not as painful as the violin. I wouldn't recommend violin as a first ever introduction to music.

Also you need to her and encourage her at home.

TheSecondComing Sat 29-Dec-12 16:47:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArkadyRose Sat 29-Dec-12 16:48:56

Fair enough - kids can be put off learning an instrument far too easily when their parents have unrealistic expectations (my late ex-husband was a flute/clarinet/piano teacher so I saw it happen a lot with his younger pupils) hence why I mentioned it. Some kids have a greater affinity for stringed instruments than others, which will also affect how fast she picks it up.

If she's bored with it already but it's too late to cancel, let her stick out another term and see if she gets into it more - try playing some of the more entertaining violinists' stuff to her, like Vanessa Mae or Nigel Kennedy, see if that inspires her a bit? If that doesn't do the trick, maybe she'd be happier with something that shows results faster like a wind instrument - at 10 she's old enough to have the arm length & strength for a flute or clarinet, both of which play on the treble clef & have the same range as the violin, so the sheet music she'll be playing from will be very similar. Though be warned - learner clarinets squeak. wink

GlaikitFizzogTheChristmasElf Sat 29-Dec-12 16:52:03

Is this the first instrument she has played? It sometimes takes a while to find the right fit.

I had a go at quite a few before finding "the one"

Tenor horn (little tuba)
Cello (only had 2 lessons, but humphing this back and forth to school was a killer)
And eventually settled on percussion! Not just tingling a triangle in the school orchestra! I got the big drums and the glissando to play with.

I did my higher music with voice as my first instrument and tuned percussion (xylophones) as my second.

If she isn't enjoying the violin see if there is a music room somewhere she can try out a few different instruments with tutors there. I'd give it a bit more time though first.

nowahousewife Sat 29-Dec-12 16:53:52

Violin cannot be compared to piano where a child can pick up a simple tune after only a couple of lessons. My DS wanted to learn piano when he was 7 but as the lessons were full his school placed him with the violin teacher. One year of 121 lessons produced barely recognisable Mary Had a Little Lamb. He then switched to piano and was knocking out tunes almost immediately.

I play piano and was absolutely clueless about the violin so took a couple of lessons with his teacher and it is really hard.

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 16:56:46

I wasn't comparing violin to piano. I was comparing children who did 121 and music theory with children who did 122 and no music theory.

nowahousewife Sat 29-Dec-12 17:42:58

Sorry Bonsoir, have just glanced over thread and hadn't read you post. Wasn't commenting on you experience, just sharing our experience for hopefully OP's benefit.smile

Verugal Sat 29-Dec-12 17:58:03

Ds1 does group lessons twice per week and one general music class including theory. After a term he was playing a variety of tunes on open strings only. After a year he could play simple tunes and scales quite well. After 4 terms he can do more difficult scales and will do grade 1 at Easter. Strings are slow going at first but then progress speeds up, unlike brass and woodwinds that whizzed to grade 3 and stagnate. Seems to even out at grade 5 though.

ZZZenAgain Sat 29-Dec-12 21:53:33

don't know what is normal. dd played pizzicato first lesson, bow from the second . Lesson was 3/4 hour, practce about an hour a day, about 6 little tunes to learn each week . Got a theory book to teach her notes in order to keep up. Maybe teacher moved fast, I assumed it was normal. Recognisable little tunes (2-3 lines) from beginning, working through a book

Piano much faster but then the musicality is already developed, no idea if she had begun with piano whether progress would have been faster.

First violin teacher was Russian, book also Russian, so perhaps a different method to your dd's teacher.

Think learning to hear and recognise the notes as you play is more imp at the beginning than almost anything else. Is your teacher focussing on developping her ear perhaps? Should nevertheless always stay music IMO, so no recognisable tune does not sound tome like the right approach. No wonder she doesn't like it

ZZZenAgain Sat 29-Dec-12 22:07:43

presume she is using a book. Which one is it? How far have they got?

I'd talk to the teacher since dd has lost interest and you are not sure about the rate of progress. See what the teacher says , don't think a term is much time really. Depending on what teacher says, give it another term and get a theory book to work through at home to learn the notes etc bit by bit alongside. Really took off for dd when she began playing in ensembles. Maybe your dd would enjoy that, ask teacher when that might be possible and if she can recommend something?

mamalovesmojitos Sat 29-Dec-12 22:11:58

Great advice here and let me add my voice that this is normal smile. It takes time with violin and it requires lots of patience as they don't get quick results.

DeWe Sun 30-Dec-12 00:05:58

Sounds slow to me. I was expecting you to say that she was 5 or 6.
But does she practice?

Practice makes a huge difference.
I learnt the violin in year 4, a shared lesson between 5 of us. I practiced 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week (yep, I was keen!). I did my grade 2 in 4.5 terms and grade 3 a year later. One boy practiced 2-3 times a week. He did his grade 1 after nearly 3 years. The rest never bothered practicing and were still struggling with playing 3 blind mice at the end of 2 years. I wasn't naturally better than the others, or particularly musical, just that was the difference practice makes. (I then stopped practicing after that, so never got beyond grade 5)

I've been fiddling with ds (age 5yo) with a violin I got for him from a charity shop. I'm not a teacher, so I don't know what I'm doing in a lot of ways.
He's had the violin since just before half term, and he does 5 minutes practice when he wants to, which may be every day for a week, or may be not at all. He's competent on his open strings (bowing), and I'm just introducing his first finger, which is a bit of a stretch as he'd be better with the smaller size violin ideally.

emmac52000 Sun 30-Dec-12 08:45:47

If you start music as early as poss ie 5 or something by the time your 10 it's easier as you have an ear for it. I agree with the person that maybe try a selection of instruments as I did trumpet and cornet as my first tries recorder violin keyboard and guitar. Still playing guitar at 31 since 14. Every instrument I learnt has helped me play my guitar now. 1 term is not enough to learn something from scratch to basic I reckon about 1 year to learn some songs. 2 years and grade 1 is achievable. Some people go for it and others are plodders. That's fine as we are all individuals. Violin is so hard but I reckon learning an instrument is like learning to drive and pass your test. The ups and downs of achievements and difficulties. I say don't give up yet wait till the end of the year and see where you've got smile

noteventhebestdrummer Sun 30-Dec-12 10:13:45

I'm surprised slow progress is this common - my September starters on violin mostly all manage to play Jingle Bells by December. I do bribe them with stickers to practice though!smile

GrumpySod Sun 30-Dec-12 11:55:57

Is this 10 minute group lessons? Then it sounds like typical progress (DD has had school lessons for 5.2 years). You must find a way to make her practice for her to make real progress and get to point of actually being able to take grade exams (if you both want that, or similar achievement).

Speaking from experience. DD is hoping to take Grade 3 exam in April. She was first person (in school violin lessons) ever at her school to take a music exam.

GrumpySod Sun 30-Dec-12 11:57:43

ah, silly me, didn't read OP's 2nd message re time/classmates.
Then it does sound like slow progress, but not impossibly slow.
So much about success in music is rhythm, they are laying groundwork for that, I imagine.

kitkat1967 Sun 30-Dec-12 22:26:59

I think this is slow progress - my DS (who is def not a musical genius!!) - started Violin 1 yr ago and is playing grade 4 pieces now and looking to take grade 5 in about 6 months time (he likes to have a plan!).
He is just 9 now so started when he was 8 - he only has his 1/2 hr lesson once a week, term time only, and doesn't do any theory lessons (it hadn't occured to me that he should but I notice from this thread that lots of others do).
I would estimate that after 1 term he had completed several books - he practices every day - but only 20 to 30 mins at a time. I know nothing about string instruments but it looks quite straightforward to me - he is a very good mathematician so finds it all very logical I think. During the first few months he found that he had to limit his practice as his wrist hurt if he played for a long time but that is the only problem he has had.
BTW - he had tried a few wind instruments with zero success - so I think it's all about finding the right instrument smile

flussymummy Tue 01-Jan-13 01:48:03

Totally normal! Violin is difficult!! I'm a pro violin player and teacher and would generally reckon that an average child starting in Sept would get to the "Jingle Bells" stage by the second Christmas of lessons, whereas a wind player would most likely be attempting it in the first term... There are many things to get to grips with first.

FionaJT Fri 04-Jan-13 21:53:00

noteventhebestdrummer - I think you must be my daughter's teacher! She started violin in September (beginning of Y3) and has been playing Jingle Bells hesitantly but recognisably over the Christmas holidays. And she gets stickers for practising.
(Dd practises 5-10 minutes a day 5 or 6 days a week, and has a half hour lesson weekly with one other girl).

ArkadyRose Fri 04-Jan-13 21:59:38

kitkat He'll need to start doing theory before he does his Grade 5 - you can do up to Grade 4 practical without needing the equivalent theory grade, but after that you must have the corresponding theory grade before doing the practical.

maggiethecat Fri 04-Jan-13 22:57:41

Arkady, I thought that you needed grade 5 theory to go beyond grade 5 practical - did not realise you needed it before grade 5 practical.

Not good for us because dd is approaching grade 5 and we have done little theory practice.

CitizenOscar Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:19

My parents made me give up the violin. I think after a couple of years. Can't blame them; I was probably shit and must have been awful to listen to.

Switched to clarinet which was much better. I still wasn't much good and far too lazy to practise but could hold a decent jazzy tune soon enough.

Violin is definitely not for everyone!

Millais Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:48

Depends on the board maybe. ABRSM ask for the theory before Grade 6 is taken

pugsandseals Sat 05-Jan-13 12:54:30

I am also a violin teacher & wanted to mention 2 things.

1- I have worked for many different music services & there are many that won't even touch a violin for the first few weeks & concentrate on aural training. These pupils do very well after about a year.

2- Just look at a piano, see all those notes? Well a violin only has 4 of them. Every single one of the others the child will need to learn to hear in their head before they can find it on their instrument. How long do you think this will take?

There will be some children who have been learning the aural & theory in music classes since they were born through high class baby & toddler music sessions. Others come to it randomly at a late age (anything past 5 is late internationally) having possibly done some choir singing. As Yehudi Menuhin said, the violin is practically the only instrument that plays in 3D - up down, in out & side to side.

You will never get a rate of development on violin like you will on any other instrument in the first 3 years. However, violin/viola/cello will bring much greater rewards & musicality later in life. All the best pianists & wind players in the world also play a stringed instrument, as do all the best conductors.

Sorry to have a bee in my bonnet, but the approach to violin playing is so vastly different to anything else you could possibly play (maybe with the exception of double reed) that to compare a beginner violinist with any other beginner instrumentalist is an insult!

There are free Kindle books on the subject of violin teaching, written by masters. They make very interesting reading for anyone who would like to understand more.

musicalfamily Sat 05-Jan-13 15:51:42

Pugsanddeals would you say then that a child like kitkat's or one who gets to grade1 or 2 violin in a year is exceptionally talented?

schilke Sat 05-Jan-13 16:05:07

Well, it depends on the child doesn't it? Ds2 had 1 term of violin lessons and then he took grade 1. This was 10 x 30 mins one to one lessons. He had tried piano before that, but wasn't keen. It just clicked with him. It has never sounded squeaky or crap.

However, dd1 has had 1/2 term of clarinet lessons and I can imagine it will be years before she does grade 1!

You mentioned that one child with the same teacher had had 3 years of lessons before grade 1 - that does sound slow progress.

Never compare to piano - dh is a brass player and always likes to say that a cat can play a piano....

kitkat1967 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:11:38

maggie - he will not need theory to take grade 5 practical. Also he will probably only do grades 5 and 8 (and maybe 7) so will have plenty of time to get the theory done after the grade 5 practical - he only needs to do it once not for every grade.
He also plays the piano and is taking each grade for that so we will use that to drive the theory requirement - like i said he is no star and as it has taken 2 years to get to grade 2 piano I anticiapate we have a while yet smile.
The main difference is that he loves playing the violin and always wants to stretch himself - he is constantly looking ahead and working things out in between lessons whereas he waits to be taught on the piano. The reason it seems straightforward to me is that, for example, when he wated to play something with higher notes then he had been taught he listened until he 'found' the right notes - when he had his lesson it truned out he had effectively taught himself 3rd position and just needed a few tweaks to correct the technique. My other DS plays wind instruments and even if he looks up a new fingering he often cannot produce the correct note without lessons and practice.
Of course as he has only been playing for a year he may just get bored and the lose interest sad.

kitkat1967 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:26:49

Also forgot to say that i would guess that rate of progress at the start doesn't necessarily determine where you end up - surely the main thing is to enjoy the playing and have fun.

pugsandseals Sat 05-Jan-13 21:57:48

Maybe I didn't explain myself clearly. Any teacher can train a child by rote to play 3 exam pieces & pass within a year on violin. However, that child is unlikely to have gained the higher level aural & reading skills to progress further. The teacher that takes the time in the beginning is the teacher that will get better results in the end & produce a real musician who stands a good chance in an orchestra. This is after all, the main aim in taking violin lessons no? To be able to play with others at a later date? Or maybe there are some parents that want to have their child trained as a performing seal hmm . I gain much more pleasure from seeing my child enjoying herself immersed in orchestra than seeing what piece of paper comes home from school next, but then I am a musician.

schilke Sat 05-Jan-13 22:01:15

Would agree with rate of progress at start does not determine where you will end up. Ds2 was very quick with the violin. He wanted to do all the grades and whizzed through the first 5 - scoring highly. His teacher said he would reach a plateau at some point and slow down and need blasted theory. There is no reason why you couldn't do it the other way round. Slow progress to start and then whizz!

Dh describes his own progress as slow and ploddy - no flashy marks! - and yet he ended up as a pro musician. He reckons he is the only pro to have never got a distinction in any of his main instrument grade exams.

Beamur Sat 05-Jan-13 22:01:28

My DD has been learning violin for a term. No discernable tunes coming out so far....
But she is learning music and we don't practise very much.
I'd like my DD to have an appreciation for music and the ability to play an instrument - if she wants to, when she is older.

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Jan-13 22:09:47

I would also say just on my experience with one dc (so not huge experience) that progress is not steady but seems to be in sudden leaps. What I have noticed and I find it odd is that when dd has had a break from violin (on holiday or she has been sick or just not felt like doing quite as much as she usually does), she then seems to jump up to another level. It is fascinating really how it works. It is not just about plugging away at it although of course that is important but I think the mind has to grasp certain things and does that in its own time. I also wondered if sometimes the brain makes you step back a bit when it is finalising a stage ready to move to the next.

I actually think they can all get there in the end. We cannot all be a David Oistrakh or Yehudi Menuhin or whoever but a dc who is taught well, likes the instrument and perserveres will get the hang of it IMO

It would be good if OP's dd got the feeling she was playing music with the violin which I don't think she does have and I think that is possibly why she doesn't like it much. Ensembles are the best for this IMO but she will need a bit more time first

schilke Sat 05-Jan-13 22:21:46

Pugsandseals - ds2 does the grades because he wants to. He likes those bits of paper wink he much prefers playing in his orchestras to his lessons and practice. Yes, anyone can learn 3 pieces and the aural tests are the real indicator, but he has those skills.

Don't mean to sound defensive, but thought it was aimed at me!

kitkat1967 Sat 05-Jan-13 23:16:44

smile - thought it was aimed at me (but maybe not then!!) - anyway DS is not taking exams but roughly covers the exam material, including scales. I would estimate that he plays about 80% of all the exam pieces (we don't have every book listed) plus loads of non-exam pieces but he just doesn't seem to need to spend any longer at each level. His sight-reading is probably his strength and after 1 year of lessons he can play most of the grade 4 level pieces by sight and is not coached to just play specific pieces by his teacher.
He also enjoys playing in orchestras and has just auditioned (and passed) for a local junior orchestra including a sight reading test so I don't think we have any issues with progressing quickly.
I just want him to keep having fun and he has no intention of following any sort of career in music. I know from experience with DS1 that if he needs to pass grade 5 theory he can do a 1 week course in the hols and take the exam after that - it's nothing to worry about.
Mind you it is all relative - he already knows several children his age who are streets ahead of him and some exceptional musicians grin so I am well aware that he is just a quick learner rather than a gifted musician of any sort.

schilke Sun 06-Jan-13 00:02:35

Kitkat - you have it then! I always get over sensitive on this forum!

Op - have just reread beginning of thread. You say she is bored after a term. Is she bored because she wants to go quicker or just not keen on the violin? If you have to give half a term's notice could you wait until half term and then decide what to do? We only have to give half a term's notice with school music service, but at the schools dh teaches at, they want a term's notice. I'm sure dh has had pupils give notice and then decide they want to carry on blush, so you could try that one assuming there is not a long waiting list.

pugsandseals Sun 06-Jan-13 11:58:19

I am not criticising for no reason. There are plenty of violin methods that do not fit with the British exam system at all, but teach techniques in a more sensible order that will equip students better for later life. The fact that the violin has 4 absolute notes, tuned in fifths, makes the methods that concentrate on right hand work first sound to parents like there is no recognisable tune to be heard. Whereas, pupils using these methods are developing the more important right hand technique to progress with greater accuracy. It is always a balancing act between giving the parent what they want to hear & see (recognisable tunes prove progress quicker) & providing children with sound technique so that they can progress quicker later & most importantly, INJURY FREE!

UrbanSpaceMum Sun 06-Jan-13 14:19:55

OP, I think if you are paying for lessons, you do need to find out what you are getting for that. If you don't think your child has much to practise, and she thinks she's bored, then it may be that the teacher is asking her to do something that doesn't make sense to her, so she doesn't do it, and next week the teacher patiently teaches it again, repeats the practise request, and your daughter still does not get it.

Violin can sound very nice from the start, if you work on tone and technique first. If you start by playing tunes any old how, then you spend hours and hours later on undoing bad habits.

pugsandseals Sun 06-Jan-13 20:10:51

Maybe OP could start by attending a lesson next term to see what happens. She will probably find the child will make more progress once somebody at home has seen what is required & can support practice at home

I did violin up to grade 6. My experience as a not particularly talented student was that it was so hard to begin with. The coordination required is like learning to pat your head and rub your tummy. There are no visual guides for where to put your fingers, you have to learn where every note is by ear and by practice. It feels very strange doing such precise work with your left hand and it takes a while for your fingertips to develop the strength to press on the strings effectively (unless you're left-handed maybe?) Your arms ache and it's a bastard trying to get the thing comfy under your chin.

You then watch your friends who chose clarinet progressing straight to grade 3 while you're still learning twinkle twinkle little star ...

Is she practising regularly? If not, she's unlikely to learn fast enough not to get totally pissed off with it. Either way it's likely to be painfully slow for a while.


Happypiglet Sun 06-Jan-13 21:56:51

My DS2 has been learning for one term. 20 minute group lessons, there are 8 of them. He has just started putting one finger on a string. Before that all the tunes were open strings. They spent the first half term plucking and doing theory. Then they learnt to bow open strings. They use fiddle time Joggers and play along with a CD backing track which makes it more fun for him.
He practises every day for between 5 and ten minutes. They learn together but have a piece to learn for a solo slot each lesson which drives DS2 on!
He already plays piano so has a bit of an advantage with reading the music but as so far he only had to read four notes (well 8now!) it's not very hard theory! Obviously the others have had to learn about lengths of notes, bars, repeating etc.
DS1 learns cello and I would say it is easier than violin....everything is so small on the violin and harder to see because of the playing position.

maggiethecat Mon 07-Jan-13 00:48:51

I agree that there is much to get to grips with on the instrument. However, surely teachers will understand the importance of a child being able to play even a simple tune on open strings after a few months - how on earth would you expect to keep them interested otherwise?

Kitkat, checked ABRSM website and was reassured that I am correct in thinking that dd does not need grade 5 theory to take grade 5 practical - relief!

But have decided to grab theory by the horns, much to dd's dismay and howling 'I hate theory!'

morethanpotatoprints Mon 07-Jan-13 17:51:24

My dd is 9 and has private lessons for violin. She practices for an hour a day and is ready for gr3. She started at aged 7, now plays other instruments but not at start of violin, iyswim.
My opinion fwiw is that after a term or even half term they should be playing some tune, whatever the instrument.

MoppingMummy Tue 08-Jan-13 09:05:26

That sounds slow and depressing (for you) imo. Ds (5) started violin lessons (suzuki method - learning from ear, daily practice etc) and after a term could hold the violin & bow correctly & play 6 tunes from memory.

Ds practises for 15 mins a day, while Dd (9) is working for grade 5 and does an hr a day. How often does ur Dd practise? Do you have good communication from teacher? I sit in all lessons and practise so I know what to do with them in the week.

I would want t know what is happening during the lessons if i was you.

MoppingMummy Tue 08-Jan-13 09:12:31

Kitkat - we need to do grade 5 theory this summer. Can you recommend a summer course?

schilke Tue 08-Jan-13 10:55:24

There is a music theory course at Gloucester academy of music - GAM. It is a residential course in August, not sure if you'd want that for a 9 year old though.

Ds2 went on the senior orchestra week last year and really enjoyed it.....until he was ill and had to come home early!

mistlethrush Tue 08-Jan-13 11:11:45

DS (7.5) has had one term of lessons. However, he's had a violin for a lot longer, and went to the first lesson able to make open strings sound good and play rhythmically in time - getting the idea of following music. He did get to a rather start-stop version of jingle bells by the end of the term. I know if he worked at it a bit better he would progress faster - but I'm also trying not to put him off - because coming from a family where both parents are string players I would really like him to be able to join in with the musical things we do (in time) rather than get put off it by being pushed to hard too early...

ZZZenAgain Tue 08-Jan-13 18:39:58

I think you are right not to push him hard especially not at the beginning. My dd's first teacher pushed my dd hard and moved her fast, I didn't know at that stage how other dc are learnt but now I feel it was wrong. She got a long way fast but in the end so what? I know a family where the father is a pianist and plays cello, the mother is a violinist and also a music teacher. They pushed their dd quite a bit and she striked aged 9 which is a shame for a lot of reasons. THey play a lot of music at home in the family and the little girl was good, had a good ear and played very accurately from the beginning but she just at some point dug in her heels and said no. I think it may have been the pressure. The mum was really sad about it being a violinist herself and I am sure they meant well, wanted talented dc, saw talent and made too much of it for the dd to be comfortable with long-term. I know another little girl who is 8 and I see the pressure her parents put her under with the violin but you can't say anything, can you? They wouldn't listen, they would assume you begrudge them their dd's progress in some way. I have never seen that girl smile with her violin in hand, not once

Sometimes I think we parents need to remember that we hope the lessons give them something for life. If you play violin till you are elderly, it was really worth while. If you play and work hard at it to please your parents till you leave home and then never pick it up again, I wouldn't say it was a waste of time but it would be a pity, wouldn't it? We generally let dc get on with their hobbies without so much pressure, they shouldn't feel so pressured with music. I think the idea of music competitions and exams is really wrong for dc, I wouldn't have ever gone down that track. It is about understanding music and participating, being able to play it. I doubt many dc forced through grades, pressured into practising, expected to win competitions will still be playing when they are 30. I really don't. It also makes me uneasy to see and to read how defensive a lot of parents get. It is about the dc and not about the parents but it comes across the other way round and to the dc that is exactly how it will feel too.

ZZZenAgain Tue 08-Jan-13 18:40:23

are learnt - oh dear
are taught obviously..

mistlethrush Tue 08-Jan-13 21:27:51

The thing that makes me hopeful is that last summer, on the week of music that we have, he complained at the end of it about the fact that he didn't do enough music himself. So this year I'll make sure that there's a junior session for 30 mins every day that's set at the right level for him and a few of the other children that are there - some of the slightly older ones have moved on and are playing at the back desks of the orchestral sessions etc.

He had a lesson this evening. He can make a fantastic sound on his violin, just need him to concentrate instead of mucking around and playing up blush

Schmedz Thu 31-Jan-13 22:44:39

Whistling waves that does seem quite slow progress to me, especially with the amount of teaching time and the fact there are only 2 in the group. Violin is not easy (strings are probably the most difficult instruments to learn) but it is surprising she is not yet playing any melodies. Have you spoken to the tutor about your concerns?
My daughter learnt cello for a term through our local music service and was playing and reading melodies by her 3rd or 4th lesson..even though they involved only a few different notes! This was in a group of 6 students, but it was for an hour each week, so I suppose that equates to your child's 6-8th lesson...

lingle Sat 02-Feb-13 14:55:57

I think what we are getting at here is that it could be absolutely great. Could be wonderful lessons concentrating on right-hand technique and aural skills, as pugsandseals was explaining.

Or it could be rubbish, with poor teaching conditions and low expectations.

Descriptions of how many tunes someone played on piano or clarinet aren't useful comparisons.

I've just spent a term teaching a little girl cello (similar, but the hold/position of the instrument are slightly less complex because of the reasons Yehudi Menuhin was quoted as saying).

We spent half our time last term picking out plucked basslines by ear, and then with a little notation, to develop the aural side. So I'd play the tune to "rudolph" and she plucked the bassline rhythically. We performed it for her class so I had to completely rely on her for a steady beat. The other half of the time was spent on how you use the bow.

Last week we started doing "left hand fingers down" and put the stickers on. This week we did twinkle twinkle little star. This tune production stuff is fairly easy compared with the stuff that pugsandseals was describing to you above. I think that's what she meant when she said any teacher could do that.

Most of us get our left hand technique years ahead of our right hand technique because we don't have pugsandseals teaching us and we just want to get the tunes out. We then have to spend lots of money on remedial lessons as adults sad So that's why it's tricky to be a violin teacher. I think the best ones find a way of making the bowing exercises fun.

Thewhingingdefective Mon 04-Feb-13 12:23:58

Sounds normal to me. My DD and DS have been playing violin and cello for just over a term and only recently began using bows. They do one lesson a week at school and played two songs in the Christmas concert. It sounded pretty rubbish when they practiced at home, but actually sounded good when they were accompanied by other pupils and the music teachers.

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