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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?

Jo2508 Sun 30-Dec-12 18:22:45

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.

crappypatty Sun 30-Dec-12 18:23:05

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.

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 18:24:40

Haha spanky2 he is very good at starting things! grin

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.

musicmadness Sun 30-Dec-12 18:27:03

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.

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 18:28:05

No, no exams. And they are very big on 'little and often' with practice.

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 18:30:19

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.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:34:45

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.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:37:23

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.

MrsMiniversCharlady Sun 30-Dec-12 18:42:59

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. confused

Personally, I think I wouldn't be forcing a reluctant 7 yo to practice as life is too short IME.

chocolateistheenemy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:58:31

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.
Good luck.

chocolateistheenemy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:59:15


pollyblue Sun 30-Dec-12 19:43:13

crazy i started a year ago, after 'meaning to' for about 20 years grin

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.

pollyblue Sun 30-Dec-12 19:46:02

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.

ReallyTired Sun 30-Dec-12 19:49:53

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.

complexnumber Sun 30-Dec-12 19:49:54

Maybe you could ask your neighbours' opinion on this one.


Chrysanthemum5 Sun 30-Dec-12 19:55:51

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.

everlong Sun 30-Dec-12 19:58:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

crazycanuck Sun 30-Dec-12 20:07:00

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 wink

autumnmum Sun 30-Dec-12 20:57:01

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.

AlwaysHoldingOnToStarbug Sun 30-Dec-12 21:05:29

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.

Dozer Sun 30-Dec-12 21:30:31

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.

FloraPost Sun 30-Dec-12 22:00:33

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.

somedayma Sun 30-Dec-12 22:02:58

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! smile

somedayma Sun 30-Dec-12 22:06:33

I just reread that and realise it was an inappropriate emotional spew all over your thread. Sorry blush

Beamur Sun 30-Dec-12 22:09:35

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.

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