Many teachers and families use games and activities to spur on the music practice cycle in their kids. If this works for you, great. But take heed:
Games, stickers and similar activities only motivate the student as far as the game itself. They won’t in themselves make students care about the music or the violin. Then, when the novelty of the game wears off, what is left?
On the other hand, when a kid really cares about music and the violin, meaningful progress will occur, even with a beat up instrument and uneven family support.
For older students and adults, it’s much the same. Your deep passion for the work will carry you through the inevitable bumps and dips.
Inspire, don’t entertain. It’s not your job to amuse those kids with an endless parade of practice bribes. So prepare to go deeper into the music as a family. Here are some suggestions:
Too busy or not interested in doing the above? Then you’ll get poor results at best. Be prepared for “I’m bored,” or “I don’t like violin lessons.” Novelty wears off quickly.
Seriously. If you don’t care, why should your kids?
My bottom line, speaking as a teacher to a student or to a family: “If you don’t care; I can’t help you.”
Don’t resist, instead embrace those days. They’re not a bad thing. Actually they are a good thing.
Now you can erase all your assumptions and once again approach your instrument with a sense of excitement, discovery and curiosity.
Isn’t this the place where your best work happens?
You can steal my practice routines. Or anyone else’s. There’s no shortage of great ideas that work.
My bowings and fingerings are up for grabs too. Just find the ones that work best for you. There are only so many possible solutions, and most have already been “discovered” by others who have already travelled a similar path.
When it comes to the things that make your music and performances unique, it is futile to try and steal that. There is only one Heifetz, Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Darol Anger and Stephane Grapelli. And only one you.
Be authentic. You can riff on the work of others, but in the end people want to enjoy your uniqueness and your gift.
If you’re constantly nagging your kids to practice more, you’re working to solve the wrong problem.
The constant complaining won’t be solved by appeasement, by turning practice into games, by offering gold stickers and other such temporary bandaids. Those approaches only escalate into greater and greater concessions on your part.
No, the solution lies in changing your approach to practice. That begins by increasing your own involvement with and understanding of the process. When you do that, your kids will respond in kind.
True, it won’t happen overnight. But “do as I do, not what I say” definitely applies. And it’s much more effective than throwing your kids in a shark filled pool with the simple instruction of “swim, I’ll be back in 30 minutes.”
Violinist Karen Gomyo – Rising Star Began Her Violin Journey with Suzuki
I recently got into a semi-heated “discussion” with a rather well known violinist (who shall remain unnamed here). His belief: that the Suzuki Method has “brought forth the end of the era of great violinists.” That this new generation of Suzuki-spawned “violinists-in-a-box” are somehow less creative, and lacking in the musical qualities that make for great performers.
It’s time to dispel a very common myth: that Suzuki lessons are somehow different than “regular” violin lessons. They are not!
In fact, Suzuki instruction is about as traditional as it gets. Students generally follow a similar technical progression. The musical substance starts with folks songs and moves into classical selections. Even the supplemental pieces and etudes that a great Suzuki Method teacher uses, are identical to “traditional” teachers.
So what’s so different about Suzuki instruction? It’s simply a matter of emphasis.
While some insist on arguing the merits of one method or another, this argument is pointless, even ridiculous. The success of any musical training comes down to many, many factors, the least of which is the specific choice of method.
Match a great violin teacher with a motivated student that enjoys the benefit of consistent family support, and mountains can be moved.
So is Suzuki a great choice for you or your family? I can offer you an unabashed “yes” if you’re ready to embark upon your violin journey with due care.
Still not convinced? Spend a few minutes with Karen Gomyo’s Tango, or enjoy any performance of the countless Suzuki trained musicians who are inspiring audiences across the globe.