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DDs violin lessons being taught entirely from a book?

(25 Posts)
BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 09:21:36

Is this normal? DD1 (just turned 7) is really enjoying violin lessons, having started in September following years of pestering but I was slightly surprised that the teacher seems to just work through a book with her. TBH DD responds well to this, enjoys 'ticking off' the pages and it makes home practice a doddle, but I thought I was paying for something different I suppose?

The teacher is lovely, endlessly patient and plays for the BBC Philharmonic herself, so is obviously very talented and good with children but isn't mainly a teacher I don't think. We had trial lessons with a couple of others who only teach and taught more like a teacher at school IYSWIM, but were a little too far to travel. We don't drive, DH and I both work, me very long hours and the teacher we chose lives extremely close by.

All in all, I don't think we'll move her before the academic year's over, if then, or before her first exam, just wondering if anyone thought it was very bad?!

picturesinthefirelight Thu 18-Oct-12 09:27:22

Thats standard in most instruments for neginners. it was when I learnt piano back in the day (got to grade 8) and dd began piano using tutor books though now she is post grade 1 she is using a mixture.

What you are paying for is the guidance of the teacher. Why should htey spend huge amounts of time and effort creating their own tutor book (in the early stages there are aspects that need to be covered in a certain order often) when so many people have already done it - besides children often like the books with their illustrations, charts and stuff.

The teacher will be able to correct technique, the book may tell you how to hold the bow but the teacher will make adjustments, timings, intonation for violin etc. All things you can't do on your own unless you play yourself.

3duracellbunnies Thu 18-Oct-12 09:32:58

Dd has a couple of books for her piano, she is 7 and also has just started. We don't sit in on the lessons as they are in school time but all that comes home are the books. Having said that the teacher has obviously been talking to her and correcting finger position etc. Does the teacher correct mistakes etc? I guess that is the extra that you pay for. A 'teach yourself' book is probably written by someone who has researched the area so is likely to be a solid base and at this stage enthusiasm and support is probably the key thing.

Have you enquired if they have a teacher come into school? Ours is a state school, and we have to pay for it, but the teacher comes into school and sees one pupil after another. They have a rota so miss a different lesson each week. Makes it easier after school.

ReallyTired Thu 18-Oct-12 09:33:01

That how most children learn to play an instrument. Modern books often have recording on a CD or a website so that the pupil can hear the piece. A book is a structured way of learnng an instrument. Ds learning guitar using a series of books called "The Guitarist Way".

The teacher is there to correct technique, give encouragement. If your daughter is making progress then your teacher sounds ideal.

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 09:33:11

Thank you for that, very reassuring. It's about the most expensive thing I've ever done, and with no musical experience myself I feel a little nervous about it I suppose!

picturesinthefirelight Thu 18-Oct-12 09:36:11

Also from bitter experience tutor books are less likely to get lost/torn/crumpled than an assorted collection of exercises on manuscript.

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 09:36:13

The teacher does do lots of correction and guidance and accompanies her so ticks all those boxes, yes. School do guitar from year 3, it's very small. I thing she'll do that too as DH plays the guitar well. Have put her on the waiting list for the group classes at the local music uni too, which are very reasonable. Only problem is fitting in the practice at the moment, so dfficult to find the time.

3duracellbunnies Thu 18-Oct-12 09:41:26

Dh tends to take charge of practice as I'm as musical as a fence post, however we have told dd that if she doesn't practice then the lessons will stop. I don't think it is worth it if they don't practice.

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 09:54:20

We make the time advised up, just in 2 big sessions, rather than the daily 15-20mins advised.

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 09:54:52

DH also supervises it here, I'm so tone deaf!

3duracellbunnies Thu 18-Oct-12 10:00:44

Oh and in our county there is a music service or something who will provide a teacher for almost any instrument, you ask at reception for the number, ring them up, ask for a teacher and then they liaise with the school re timing etc. As it is we don't use it as another person comes in and works there hiring a room out, we use her. Ours is just a one class entry school, it wouldn't be a problem if she was the only pupil. I guess it isn't that different to a teacher going to lots of different houses, but means they can teach during the day as well as after school.

maggiethecat Thu 18-Oct-12 10:19:02

Bee, you will work out what's good for your dd. Conventional wisdom though suggests that frequent practice is better than longer, infrequent sessions.

ZZZenAgain Thu 18-Oct-12 10:28:08

she has only had a few lessons if she started in September so it is very early days. I think the book gives a certain structure to her learning in that skills are acquired in an order which makes sense, building on each other as she moves through the book. I really don't think that is a problem. Once your dd has certain basic skills, it will be easy for the teacher to bring in additional material. In a way working from a book can be quite positive for the pupil and parents because you can see what skills are being worked on and what comes next.

I am sure that the teacher is doing a lot in terms of correcting position, bow hold and fingering which you are not aware of since you don't sit in on the lessons. THe teacher has to help your dd to hear when she is getting the notes wrong due to false positioning of her fingers on the strings and you are paying for all of that too - and it is essential really.

What did you like about the lessons you observed with other teachers? You say it was more like school, could you explain with a couple of examples what you mean?

bowerbird Thu 18-Oct-12 11:40:37

OP can I add to the reassurances about using a music book? This is completely normal practice. Also, I'd like to add that violin is notoriously difficult, and that these wildly expensive lessons are going to make a huge difference to your DD's progress. I actually think that group lessons for violin are a waste of time and money. You need someone constantly guiding you on bow hold, finger position, violin position, intonation. It's a lot to deal with, so well done for going the 1-2-1 option.

Could I just nudge you to consider more frequent practise though? I don't know your schedule and don't wish to presume, but surely you can find 15 minutes a day either before or after school? It makes an enormous difference to a beginning player and will also set her on the right path for frequent practise. Longer, less frequent sessions are simply no substitute.

But well done and good luck.

ReallyTired Thu 18-Oct-12 13:04:51

"We make the time advised up, just in 2 big sessions, rather than the daily 15-20mins advised. "

You dd would better to do ten minutes a day than two big sessions. If you miss a day's practice then you forget 50% of what you learnt. Its like an athelete that you need to stretch your fingers every day. Many young children do not yet have the concentration span for more than ten or fifteen minutes of high quality practice.

It doesn't matter if a parent isn't musical or tone deaf. With a young child you need someone who takes an interest. Sucessful practice is targetting difficult areas rather than hours of practice. Your music teacher should guide you with what to practice.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 18-Oct-12 13:29:57

I found with DD's first instrument the recorder it was the books until after grade 1. With second instrument she is moving much faster as she already reads music so manuscripts arrive much sooner.
I would agree practise needs to be little and often. DD often practices while I make tea.
DD has just joined an orchestra and I would say that this has trebled her enjoyment.

LilyBolero Thu 18-Oct-12 13:33:07

She won't be just 'working through the book' - the book will provide a structure, but within the lessons the teacher will be instilling technique, making sure she holds the violin properly etc etc. The book is a useful means to practise the technique, without making her do loads and loads of technical exercises, and your dd has the incentive to move through the book.

Most teachers will teach like this.

LilyBolero Thu 18-Oct-12 13:34:57

Also, to echo everyone else about practice, the brain absorbs 'small, frequent' chunks much much better than 2 'long' chunks - there is very little point at this stage 'making the time up' - much MUCH better to do 10 or even 5 minutes every day. Ideally 10 minutes a day minimum will make sure she makes much faster progress, and enjoys it even more than she is doing.

DeWe Thu 18-Oct-12 13:38:51

It's probably better being tone deaf when you supervise a beginner violin grin

Just from experience, I'm doing very basics of violin with ds (age 5). He practices 5-10 minutes a day, mostly bowing on open strings at present. If he misses a day he is noticably worse the next practice even if he did a really long one. I've found better to do 5 minutes a day than 30 minutes twice a week.

Beanbagz Thu 18-Oct-12 14:31:40

Another here agreeing with the little & often for practicing. I find my DD works a lot better this way. She does 15mins piano in the mornings and 10-15mins guitar every evening after school (plus recorder 3or4 times a week). Practicing every day also stops the guitar going out of tune.

We have a variety of books & sheet music though in the books the teachers pick out the pieces they want her to work on rather than methodically working through the book.

My DS on the other hand has just started playing the recorder and wants to do all his practice at one. We had 3 hours one night grin

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 14:53:37

OK, I get the message, will try harder! It is so difficult for her to practice on an evening where DH or I have all 3 girls though, the violin is so fascinating to the other 2 that it's impossible to have her in the same room and sending her upstairs to do it alone isn't much fun. Will have to think of some way round it though, the teacher re-iterates weekly that a short daily practice is best.

BeehavingBaby Thu 18-Oct-12 14:56:12

Actually, this thread has given me more confidence to help with practice myself despite my musical limitations, which will be a big help in finding more practice opportunities in the day. Also, I'd never thought of doing it in the morning.

wahwah1270 Thu 18-Oct-12 21:53:25

I agree with everyone else on practice dd (4) does 5-10 mins a day and ir makes a huge difference and creates routine

Beanbagz Fri 19-Oct-12 10:06:19

BeehavingBaby i've never played a musical instrument and i can't read music either though i was in the choir at school. But when i listen to my DD practice i can still pick up on her mistakes.

Don't be hard on yourself, it's support more than musical ability that she needs.

Teamthrills Mon 22-Oct-12 23:23:05

I have 2 dcs learning violin by the suzuki method (and one dc not yet old enough)

Parents must be involved in all lessons (to make notes & observe correct position, posture etc) and guide all practise.

Suzuki motto is that you should only practise on the days that you eat...

Dd1 is 8 & practises daily for 45mins to 1 hr- she is taking grade 5 next term. Ds1 is 5 and practises daily for 15 mins.

We pay a fortune for lessons so I make sure we put the work in at home. I think it's essential to be there for lessons or it is difficult to know how to help at home.

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