My oldest started begging for a violin when he turned 4 years old. This mother's heart was beaming with pride and I was sure this was a sign of greatness. We held him off for an entire year because I was terrified of living vicariously through him. I was bred to be a pianist. My grandmother was a church pianist. My mother was a church pianist. I am a church pianist. I studied classical piano with a WONDERFUL teacher for my last two years of high school and was practicing 4 hours a day. Music is in my blood! I was jumping for joy when I thought my 4 year old had inherited my musical genes. And so it happened, on his 5th birthday, he received his very first violin. It was magical. It was dreamy. And he was enthusiastic. This lasted for approximately 3 weeks. I would round him up every day for a practice session and I was shocked at how slowly he would walk towards me. I even occasionally saw a roll of the eyes! Ah! Heaven forbid. What happened to my budding virtuoso!? Let me be honest and say that things just got worse. We never had to deal with a screechy sound (thankful for high quality instruments!), but as soon as it got difficult, he just lost interest. I thought I was doomed. There were certain days upon arriving at his weekly lesson that he wouldn't even walk towards his teacher when she asked him to! I was mortified, and it was quickly followed by the meanest mommy look I could muster. My sweet, innocent, precious baby boy could actually be disrespectful! I had seen disobedience before, of course. But none of my children had been able to produce a large enough amount of disrespect for any of us to even notice. That is, until things got hard. Of course this is when the questions started. Why is he taking lessons if he's not loving it? Why the violin? When are you going to let him quit? Let me tell you, I've had many quiet heart-to-hearts with myself, contemplating these questions.
-Why the violin?
Well, quite frankly, I believe it is the easiest instrument for very young children to learn. I was VERY much against the Suzuki method until I found a Suzuki teacher who was willing to also teach them theory. As a pianist, I knew how important it was to read music. I needed to know my kids were learning how to read music.
-Why isn't he loving it?
He loves his violin teacher. Absolutely adores her. He loves his lessons. But what he hated was practicing. This was eye-opening for me. I truly believe I was the contributing factor to him not loving his practice times. I get frustrated easily, and tend to expect a lot out of my kids. So if a new skill was difficult, I've had to learn tactics to take the drudgery out of it. This has been a growing experience for me! I can zap the fun out of anything. It's true. :) So it was humbly to realize that I was the main reason that his practices were so difficult.
-When are you going to let him quit?
Hm. Well, to answer this question you have to first ask yourself the reason why you started in the first place. At first we started because we indeed believed he was a prodigy. Ha. Ha. Ha. Every parent believes their child is something extraordinary. Let me tell you that after 1 1/2 years of lessons, I can guarantee that he is NOT a prodigy! LOL :) So do we have high hopes of him joining a conservatory? Heck no! Our #1 reason for not allowing him to quit is because sometimes it's good for your kids to have to do something hard. People, we homeschool. He can do school in his jammies if he wants. He gets a million breaks, and gets to watch tv in the afternoon. Nothing in his life is hard! :) So the reason for the violin? At this point it is SOLELY for the purpose of character building. There are a whole pile of specialized character building books, curriculum, etc. My kids can to learn it while also learning how to play an instrument. Two for the price of one! :) Soooooo, if our main purpose in taking violin lessons is to build character, then go ahead. Ask me again. When are we going to let him quit? :)
Violin lessons have been the refining fire. For all of us. My husband has to fork out the money for something he isn't seeing immediate results with. I have to choose.....ugh, yes, choose......to gather him each and every day to practice and practice and practice. This child has to choose to speak respectfully and work hard, even if he doesn't feel like it. What a priceless lesson to learn.
p.s. baby #2 started lessons in august. heaven help me! :)