Failing Our Suzuki Violin Parent Practice

Our teacher planned for a “parent practice night” for our studio.  During our lesson time, we were supposed to demonstrate what our practice times looked like.  Sounds easy right?  I’m pretty sure I failed………

We arrived at our lesson and had our little chit chat before we began.  Our teacher moved from her seat and told me to take her seat and begin the lesson.  She moved over to the parent observation chair  across from me.  Then I was supposed to “practice” with Curly.  We went through a few things but it was obvious that Curly was nervous and felt awkward.  She giggled through half of our practice time (which never happens at home) and she rushed through other sections and basically ignored much of the advice I gave her.  I made the mistake of glancing over to our teacher who was furiously taking notes.  Then I totally panicked.  I brought the “practice” to a halt shortly thereafter hoping we could talk about some pointers and I could ask questions.  Instead, I was grilled about practice times as she asked me about how we scheduled and structured practices.  At this point, I was ready to sink into the floor.

I love listening to the violin.  I’m glad Curly’s taking lessons.  We’re not super hard core Suzuki parents.  I work with her daily and she’s made great progress.  But I’m more than ok with not spending an hour a day on practice time.  I’m more relaxed than that.  Plus, this is our first year with a new teacher, we just moved twice, we just had a baby, and my hubby has a new job and is in grad school.  Plus, I homeschool my kids and reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic are more important than violin.  Sorry!  So, while I do think practice is important, I do give ourselves days off when we need a break.

Our first semester with the new teacher was a lot of backtracking and fixing old habits of incorrect technique.  We started over and back at the beginning of the book.  It was not easy for either of us.  I had no idea how frustrated we would both be-at the teacher and at each other.  Practice times were sometimes a battle.  I tried to encourage, I tried to reason, I tried to talk through our problems.  Some days were great and other days were awful.  I mentioned concerns to our teacher and we pressed on.  We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel even though I know we’ll have other times that are incredibly difficult.  I’ve come to learn that perfection isn’t everything.  The relationship is really more important.  And even though playing the violin can be very very hard, it can still be made somewhat fun……at least sometimes.  So, I try to be a little more laid back which goes against my perfectionist nature.  But, I really do try to find balance.

Well, I think I’m somehow missing the mark.  The teacher didn’t seem pleased after our little practice time.  I apparently was supposed to fill the entire 30 minute lesson time with my teaching.  I had no idea that I was to be the one basically teaching the entire lesson that evening.  I was just not prepared for that.  Nor was I prepared for how I would feel as she questioned me about our practices.  Can I just say that it’s incredibly intimidating to sit and try to direct your own child (who is not cooperating) while another person (an expert) is evaluating you?  I did not perform well under that pressure and neither did Curly.  Now I’m awaiting my emailed evaluation.  Yikes!

I made a frantic phone call to my hubby as I left the lesson.  He patiently listened to my crazy rant and heard my frustrations.  Then I called another Suzuki mom in another city.  She laughed as she totally understood my feelings of being completely overwhelmed.  We brainstormed and came up with some new ideas for practice times and I made notes to improve.  I’m never against improving.  I guess I’m just not keen on being expected to perform under such pressure.  Silly isn’t it that I should be so nervous?

I’ve decided that we’re going to make some changes but keep moving forward.  My practice time will not look like any other parents in the studio.  None of the other families have 5 small children.  Maybe some are more serious than we are.  Maybe some practice for an hour.  We’re going to work hard but we’re also going to find ways to enjoy as well.  I’m going to keep striving for balance.  And when I get our evaluation it may be time for a heart-to-heart.  I may have failed in her eyes but all I see is the last few weeks of practice-which have had less frustration each day.  I just see slow and steady improvement and the beginnings of an enjoyment for playing.  I consider that success.

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4 thoughts on “Failing Our Suzuki Violin Parent Practice

  1. Instruments are difficult to take I am afraid. You typically deal with teachers who are experts, and sometimes can't remember how it was when they were small and just learning. I can totally understand that it would be frustrating for you! And I have to say, that practicing piano was the last thing I wanted to do growing up, and my mom would fight me tooth and nail sometimes, but I am thankful now, as an adult, that she did require me to continue and practice like I did 🙂 Good like with your evaluation!

  2. We can't all be perfect ALL the time. 🙂 And these things happen – too bad her teacher wasn't a little more understanding! If I was being grilled and made to feel like I was doing something wrong I would be unhappy, too. I had a piano teacher I absolutely LOVED growing up, she would inspire me to do better during practice just because I wanted to please her. She was the nicest person. I know that if piano became stressful and I wasn't having fun anymore I hated it! So I think finding balance and making sure you both are still enjoying it is really important. 🙂 Good luck!

  3. I would take that evaluation with a grain of salt, myself. It sounds like your priorities are drastically different then the teachers, and that's ok. Keep doing what you know you need to do and let her worry about what she feels she needs to do.

    On a side note, how did you decided what instrument to do? My 2 and half year old is REALLY musical. His brother isn't in the least musical so we didn't run into this before. We keep being told the earlier we start him the better… we totally have no idea how to choose.

  4. Heather-Thanks! I'm sure it's hard for her to remember what it's like to know nothing about an instrument. I do the best I can! She hasn't sent her evaluation yet but our lesson this week was better. I'm hoping a few other parents had rough practice sessions too…… that bad???
    My mom made me practice piano too-and I'm so thankful! I teach my kiddos piano but need someone else for the violin.

    Lindsey-Thanks! Our practices are getting better. The teacher does have high expectations but I guess I'm a little more relaxed. But I think we'll get it worked out. I work to come up with new practice strategies to keep it interesting.

    Calyn-I chose violin because you can get it in all sizes. Also, our daughter had mentioned it. I have a friend who plays viola so I had talked to her about Suzuki teaching. I thought it would be a good beginning instrument and I also love how they sound! I teach our kids piano so they get both instruments. If we could only do one, I would choose piano probably. But I waited until she was older to start piano since they are big. With Suzuki violin they don't have to read music for a while so we didn't have to learn that right away to play.

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