Role of Parents
Tips for Parents of Young Students
Learning to play violin is both an individual pursuit and a family affair. It is important that the desire to learn violin come from the child, but parents’ commitment to private lessons is essential to the student’s success. Parents of violinists can expect to spend timeó
- Weekly lessons are essential to a student’s motivation and progress on violin, especially in the first few years.
- Monitoring practice.
- Parents should work with the student to find a practice routine that complements the family schedule and adult expectations, at the same time giving the child some control over their practice. (See Taming the Practice Monster.) Most parents find they need to give daily practice reminders.
It is important to remain consistent and upbeat about practicing. If the student complains about being bored or about the pieces s/he has been assigned, encourage the student to talk to me at the next lesson but to complete the practice assignments for the week in the meantime.
To make the fastest progress, students should practice the following every day
- Scales, major and minor, 3 times each scale.
- Any left or right hand technique pages covered at the last lesson.
- Etude (a short piece focusing on a particular technique).
- Any warm-ups for their solo piece.
- Orchestra music from school or youth orchestra.
- Something of their choosing thatís fun and that they perhaps havenít played for a while.
- Giving encouragement.
- Words of encouragement from parents are music to a violinist’s ears, so don’t be afraid to lavish praise on your child.
Learning to play the violin is a long-term process. Fine motor control skills, muscle memory, the musical ear, even brand new neural pathways all have to develop, and this takes time and long-term commitment. Progress on violin is not linear, either; there are ups and downs and many, many plateaus. Mastery of a single technique is usually a matter of months or years, not days and weeks. I once asked my Russian violin professor why she could play a particular passage in a Mozart Concerto and I couldn’t. She said, “Well, Jane, maybe it’s because I’m older than you.” Learning to play well is often a matter of sticking with it and growing old with the instrument. As David Shenk puts it in The Genius in All of Us, talent is a process: “Physiologically, it’s impossible to become great overnight. Developing one’s full potential takes love, perseverance and lots and lots of time.”