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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?

yousmell Mon 31-Dec-12 08:17:29

- if he enjoys the instrument

yousmell Mon 31-Dec-12 08:16:56

If the lessons are free, continue but agree to practice only at the weekend maybe?

yousmell Mon 31-Dec-12 08:15:45

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.

Startail Mon 31-Dec-12 00:37:51

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.

nooka Mon 31-Dec-12 00:16:09

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.

Clayhanger Sun 30-Dec-12 23:41:10

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!)

malinois Sun 30-Dec-12 23:02:38

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.

CreepyLittleBat Sun 30-Dec-12 22:34:44

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)

Viviennemary Sun 30-Dec-12 22:25:07

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.

Muminwestlondon Sun 30-Dec-12 22:19:13

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.

beanandspud Sun 30-Dec-12 22:18:32

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.

Beamur Sun 30-Dec-12 22:10:26

somedayma - thank you for sharing your experience - it is worth seeing that perspective too.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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

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


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.

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.

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