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to insist my DS (7) carries on with violin lessons?

(62 Posts)
crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 17:25:30

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! angry. 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?

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 17:27:42

Sorry, I should have been more clear: the after school activity last term was only one afternoon a week.

cantspel Sun 30-Dec-12 17:34:35

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.

Marne Sun 30-Dec-12 17:35:24

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.

froggies Sun 30-Dec-12 17:37:58

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.

EarlyInTheMorning Sun 30-Dec-12 17:38:13

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.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 30-Dec-12 17:38:18

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.

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 17:38:19

Yes Marne that's a big thing with him, he hates missing play time to practice.

ManicMuppetMania Sun 30-Dec-12 17:39:29

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!

Katisha Sun 30-Dec-12 17:40:22

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.

Thingymajigs Sun 30-Dec-12 17:40:54

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. hmm 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.

ManicMuppetMania Sun 30-Dec-12 17:43:33

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!

bowerbird Sun 30-Dec-12 17:47:33

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.

Good luck!

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 17:47:48

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.

Tabliope Sun 30-Dec-12 17:48:10

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.

colleysmill Sun 30-Dec-12 17:48:20

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.

FiveHoursSleep Sun 30-Dec-12 17:48:36

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.

SecretSquirrels Sun 30-Dec-12 17:50:28

I did that with DS1, years of nagging reminding him to practice and eventually agreeing to him quitting.
I didn't bother for DS2 grin

Life is too short IMO

colleysmill Sun 30-Dec-12 17:53:37

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 wink

mightycheeks Sun 30-Dec-12 17:59:32

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!

Fairylea Sun 30-Dec-12 18:05:29

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.

CaHoHoHootz Sun 30-Dec-12 18:08:18

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.

spanky2 Sun 30-Dec-12 18:10:44

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 ! wink

hermioneweasley Sun 30-Dec-12 18:12:36

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.

pollyblue Sun 30-Dec-12 18:17:06

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?

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