If you find yourself immersed in violin tuning, violin fingering charts and perhaps Suzuki music you may find the following helpful.
This short article is the first in a series aimed at shedding some light on this mystery of encouraging your child to enjoy, maybe even look forward to violin practice time.
If you can relate to any of the following statements, please dont tell the rest of us!
1. My child is so motivated to practice her violin, she will go to bed early in order to awake and be ready for practice at 6:00 am.
2. My son quit the soccer team because it was cutting into his violin practice time.
3. I often spend many hours online searching for free violin sheet music just to satisfy my daughters unquenchable thirst for new music. She loves the challenge!
4. We cancelled our family trip to Hawaii because our son just couldnt bear the fact that he would miss two violin lessons. Hes just s-o-o-o motivated and we dont want to break that spirit in him.
5. Violin tuning has become a fun family event, we all love to get involved.
6. My daughter is learning about fractions by memorizing the different violin sizes, 1/16, 1/10, ¼, who know fractions could be so much fun?!
For the rest (probably 99.99%) of us, let me assure you, there is hope! Chances are, we may never be able to claim any one of the four statements above, but there are positive, fun methods of encouraging your child to practice without pain to them or you.
Time of day. Three little words that pack a huge punch when it comes to creating an effective practice time. Two things you need to consider are:
1. Your child’s age
2. Observe what time of day they have the highest level of concentration.
My daughter began studying the violin at age five. At that time we practiced in the morning, for no particular reason other than it was a convenient time. Occasionally, practice time would get pushed back to the afternoon hours, no big deal . or so I thought. Those afternoon practices never went well, but sometimes I dont catch on too quickly. In fact, the somewhat unfavorable afternoon practices were not what clued me in to the fact that my child was not an afternoon person. It was her writing practice that finally got through to me. Five minutes worth of writing practice in the morning became 20 to 30 minutes of agony in the afternoon. Aha! The light bulb had been turned on, Maybe, I said to myself, just maybe she is a morning person!
With this fresh information tickling my brain, a commitment was made to keep violin practice time to mornings only. I even went so far as to skip the practice if time ran away from us in the morning. Better to skip it, then to put her through the frustration. As my daughter gets older I’ve noticed a definite improvement in her ability to maintain a solid concentration level in the afternoon hours.
Now, your child may not be a morning person. Perhaps their energy level is highest in the early afternoon hours or early evening hours. What is important is that your are aware of the time of day their concentration level is best. For younger children this time is usually in the morning, but that is not always true. Not sure when they are at their best? Well, just observe them reading or writing or doing something that requires them to focus. Try different activities at different times of they day. You will definitely notice a difference in their ability to complete the task. The same thing that may take them five minutes to complete when they are at their best, will become a task of frustration when they are at their lowest energy level of the day.
Remember to have fun with your child, after all this business of being involved with your childs music practice is supposed to be a wonderful and precious experience!