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violin - too young? opinions wanted...

(27 Posts)
pushyviolinmum Wed 16-Jan-19 08:30:21

DS is 2 (26 months). He loves sounds - classical music, jazz, bellringing, sounds made by bashing things with a stick. He imitates machines like a lyrebird.

He seems to have perfect pitch of some sort. He's been able to sing in tune for about a year, initially repeating played notes and able to sing the next one in a pattern after hearing the pattern, at about 14 months; though most of the past year "singing songs" was just sequences of a few notes. It's now whole verses of songs where perhaps 3/4 of the words are correct, or imitated well if the song isn't in English. He also very much likes playing patterns on the piano, and listening to us playing.

However I really think he needs to do more with someone who actually has a clue. I play piano and violin badly (about grade 3 standard) and sing a lot at home. DH plays piano a bit better and also sings in choirs, though not at home. We listen to a lot of music at home, which obviously helps with giving him an idea of how music is meant to sound, but we're not really developing his interest/talent, just keeping it ticking over.

There's nothing he can join until he's 5 here (a Saturday school of general music classes at a fairly low standard) and the earliest he can join a choir is age 9 (and it's not a very good one - the first decent one is for ages 14 and up). No cathedral choir or anything like that here. We have no worthwhile music classes for toddlers where we are, or within any reasonable commute (we're outside the UK). I've been trying to get someone to start a Kodaly class for a bit over a year but she's just said she isn't going to do it this year. No-one will take him on to learn piano, despite the fact he really likes the piano and his hands are huge (he's very tall).

There is ONE music teacher in this whole town of 130,000 people who has said yes she would very happily take on a child this age. She teaches Suzuki violin and takes kids from 2, and prefers them to start aged 2. I've always thought people who start kids age 2 are absolutely nuts, particularly if the kid is not that into the violin and is too young to concentrate. She is also a very very Suzuki teacher who has the kids doing their 20 kids in a row all playing the same thing at a concert, pre-twinklers off at summer camp aged 2.5--3, etc. It's all a bit, um, Suzuki-bling... though I tend to be curmudgeonly in my tastes.

Do I go for it and take him along despite him probably being too young? Or keep him ticking over til he's 5 and can join a bunch of bored primary schoolers bashing xylophones on a Saturday?

ZakStarkey Wed 16-Jan-19 08:47:18

Try it and see.
Xylophone bashing! Xylophone is a great instrument grin

Doyoumind Wed 16-Jan-19 08:54:34

Yes, you can buy large wooden xylophones for children which is actually a good introduction to a musical instrument imo.

pushyviolinmum Wed 16-Jan-19 09:26:23

We have a glockenspiel that's reasonable in terms of tuning. But we also have a perfectly ok piano, and lots of music. And violin, guitar, recorders. The issue is lack of teachers rather than lack of instruments...

Isadora2007 Wed 16-Jan-19 09:29:42

I’d definitely try the violin teacher - her OTT ness might very much work with a keen toddler.
My son was very musically too very young, and is now a musician as an adult.

Lancelottie Wed 16-Jan-19 09:35:25

Give it a try for a few sessions. If it's awful, stop. Enjoying music is a very good start.

Once he's about 4-5, especially if he can read, you'll have plenty of other teachers to choose from.

By the time he's 7 or so, a new children's choir might have started up, or there could be one at school. (I don't think there's much chance of acquiring a sudden cathedral by then, to be fair.)

NeleusTheStatue Wed 16-Jan-19 10:10:20

You can let him try and see how it goes. He may enjoy it then great. If not, you can stop.

Meanwhile, you can take him to lots of concerts. By the time he's ready to take formal lessons he'll have a better idea of which instrument or style of music he likes?

I noticed my DS's interest in music when he was 9 or so. Yours is only 2. He'll have a great musical journey!

Wafflenose Wed 16-Jan-19 11:03:59

I know a few kids who have started violin and cello at 2. It tends to be very slow going to start with, but why not? I started my older DD on recorder and glockenspiel at 3. She had grade 5 recorder by the time she was 8, and has since found learning the piano easy.

NotAnotherJaffaCake Wed 16-Jan-19 11:07:24

Suzuki is not for everyone. We were asked to leave a Suzuki program because I thought 15 minutes twice a day of parental driven practice for a not quite 3 year old was bonkers, and unlikely to foster any real love for music. That said, my kid was perhaps not as all about the music as yours sounds. From the outside, the Suzuki program looked all lovely and child friendly - in reality it was driven by completely bonkers tiger parenting. That said, they are all different.

I'm not a fan of such early starts in music, but I can see why you want to engage given your child is showing such an interest. As a PP said, you can always stop if it's not working and try again later.

folkmamma Wed 16-Jan-19 18:08:47

Suzuki can work very well with tiny ones. As with anything, there are pros and cons. My DD started with Suzuki at 5 and a half, it was a perfect start for her. We moved away from it after about 18 months, mainly for logistics but with hindsight it was probably the right thing as we added in note reading much earlier. She now has great technique (thanks to Suzuki), a good ear, but also reads music brilliantly.

DD2 started at 3 but it was too soon for her - that's not to say it is for everyone. Yours may be quite ready!

The younger they are, the slower progress usually is at the start. Unless you have a little prodigy of course (which may be the case, you won't know unless you try....).

Give the Suzuki thing a try. As others have said, just stop if it's not the right thing.

pushyviolinmum Wed 16-Jan-19 22:20:45

Thanks everyone. We'll give it a go (if the teacher still has a space for this year - if not, we can just get Suzuki book 1 and get going ourselves with the 2x15 mins per day). I'd be happy with slow progress - I think the thing is really to make sure he's engaged musically, and enjoying himself, until he's ready to make progress. Like any kid this age he is an absolute sponge, so he's going to be learning no matter where he is - i'd just rather he was learning something complex that keeps him absorbed.

I think he'd actually rather learn the cello, given that he's always been drawn to it, but I haven't much clue about cellos, and I already have a violin. I guess we can switch in a few years, anyway.

folkmamma Wed 16-Jan-19 22:29:59

I would think you'll need a 1/32 size....

NeleusTheStatue Wed 16-Jan-19 22:35:53

Don't they start with a cardboard box? Or is it only in Japan??

folkmamma Wed 16-Jan-19 22:35:59

Also, there's a whole stage prior to book 1 (pre-twinkle) that's really important, especially for one so young, so if teacher doesn't have space it's worth waiting. Good luck!

folkmamma Wed 16-Jan-19 22:36:35

Neleus- yep! Cardboard box with sweets inside!

NeleusTheStatue Wed 16-Jan-19 22:44:53

Didn't know the sweets inside!

Pythonesque Thu 17-Jan-19 00:03:58

Given that you don't have any other accessible music groups, a Suzuki-based programme sounds a good way of supporting musical development. Not all Suzuki teachers are comfortable with 2-3 yr olds, but we (my COI!) undergo a comprehensive training programme in how to teach that really supports understanding how to develop early musicianship in preschoolers, and how to work with young children.

In my own training I've met some teachers who much prefer working with the youngest children say 2-5 yr olds, and others who (like myself at the moment) are better off with (slightly!) older beginners say 4-6 (actually I'll take any age, including adults) ...

You might well be asked to observe lessons for a while before starting. You could also use the process to improve your own playing. Hope it works out well for you all!

Wafflenose Thu 17-Jan-19 08:03:57

My younger daughter's cello teacher showed us a 1/16 size cello, and says that's what she uses with 2 year olds.

IlluminatiParty Thu 17-Jan-19 08:14:56

Suzuki long term requires compliant music mad child and/or huge level of parental investment. Otherwise it's torture all round. I'd be cautious before stepping on that bus at that age.

Hes so little, stick to teaching him music in all its forms yourself, at grade 3 you'll know the basic theory. Be aware that if you focus on one instrument that might mean you miss that he's actually more enthused by a different type. I'd give him longer to develop a bit more of a preference whether for banging plucking or singing etc.

NeleusTheStatue Thu 17-Jan-19 08:43:03

As some PPs pointed, traditionally Suzuki requires lots of parental support. But it varies depending on who is teaching. I don't think all the Suzuki teachers maintain the same level of expectation as Dr. Suzuki. I know plenty kids learning violin with Suzuki method and their families aren't tortured. The kids aren't devoted to music only - it's just one activity out of many they do. They seem to enjoy the lesson as they can play simple but fun pieces instead of spending endless time on scales and generally they seem to enjoy playing in a group too. It looks fun and normal.

folkmamma Thu 17-Jan-19 09:29:50

Any 2 year old learning to play an instrument needs a lot of parental support....

And I know plenty of non-Suzuki parents who are deeply involved in their child's musical journey.

You will find the way that works best for you and your child.

NeleusTheStatue Thu 17-Jan-19 09:46:01

My point was to clear the scary image of Suzuki method some PPs mentioned as it could put people off unnecessarily. Also, if something you tried didn't work nor suit to the family, you can leave and go somewhere - you won't lose the control how much to get involved just because it's Suzuki.

Obviously If a child is as young as 2, lots of parental support would be needed for any activity/method.

pushyviolinmum Sat 19-Jan-19 09:33:31

Thanks all. No spaces left now so we will do our own thing this year, which is probably the right thing to be doing. We have established 15 mins per day of violin- related activity - some open strings, some bow hold, some standing correctly, attempting to get ds to bow a string while I do the left hand, some of me playing Suzuki book 1 on my violin. We listen to a CD at mealtimes, or watch a video if DS is refusing to eat without a screen (grr, but hey eating lunch and watching Barenboim et al do the Trout isn't terrible). We also play the piano (I practise for about 20 mins, DS helps), and I sing when I remember to.
If we can keep all this up for 6 months or a year DS may well have matured to a point where he might find Suzuki fun rather than over the top and annoying (I pulled him out of swimming lessons last term because he clearly liked going swimming but hated the teacher's constant high-five-buddy in-your-face inanity).

catkind Sun 20-Jan-19 00:31:29

Humph, I had a cardboard box when I started (at a positively geriatric nearly 4!) but no sweets in mine. Feeling hard done by now.

Can you watch some of the suzuki lessons while you're on the waiting list? Might help you decide if it's going to be a fun toddler activity or a bit too pushy. I would hope with 2 year olds for lots of songs and games. Suzuki is designed for small kids so good start, but still relies on individual teacher to be good at keeping them engaged and entertained.

Hope you have fun whichever direction it takes. Listening to you practice is going to be a brilliant example to set if he does get into music.

One of my kids had zero interest in anyone telling him what to do at 2 (to be fair still not keen at 9!) and reacted with horror to classes even in things he normally enjoyed like swimming. The other loved anything organised, had a lovely music class at 2 and fun non Suzuki violin from 3. So very child dependent and not predictable too.

Pippap1 Sun 20-Jan-19 18:15:07

Well... as a violinist and a mum of two young violinists, I think two years old is still too early to start playing violin. Teacher at the early stage is very important. Once your DC has bad habits, it takes years or sometimes decades to correct it. Many soloists start violin at 4 or 5. In my opinion, two years is the best age to listen to lots of fine music for their ears and sing with parents to grow their love of music rather than practicing bow holding, scale etc. But it is just my opinion...

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