After scraping my jaw off the floor I agreed. She didn't do much more than rosin the bow but I was thrilled that she thought of it all on her own and wanted to get it out. What a difference from the little girl who told me, "No, I don't want to get my violin out any more" just a few weeks ago.
A friend who is a few years ahead of me in the Suzuki program wrote me an email this morning full of good encouragement and advice:
Trust me if it seems it is going perfectly for everyone else they are not being completely honest. We nearly quit when we were starting out. There were lots of tears and I felt like a failure. Now my kids are both doing well and we have a better relationship because of it. For some reason my second child was easier. Personalities certainly can play a part. My first child is a perfectionist and what I was reading as resistance I finally realized was fear of not doing it right. Well, duh, I thought, of course you won’t do it right. You will never do it right if you don’t try it. Where did she get her perfectionism? Hmmmm. Both my husband and I are fairly driven—could that be it? I made quite a few changes to my approach and I think some of them worked. I discovered that I was trying to fix too many things at once and likely driving my kid crazy and perhaps into despair!
One thing I did was to work on one goal at a time. If we were working on hand position I had to bite my tongue and not say anything about the bow that was going crazily off the highway or the scroll that was pointing at the floor. This was very difficult for me. Surprisingly eventually all the issues still disappeared (well, there will always be something).
Another thing I did was let the child be the judge if she did it right.
One other thing I concentrated on was to keep my mouth shut and if my child made an honest attempt even though it wasn’t perfect we stopped at the number of reps we had decided on beforehand then cheered.
Something that really works even now is for me to watch for something we have been having trouble with in the past (like getting that C natural) and say “wow great C natural” I noticed it surprises them and she tries to get it even better next time.
A book I like that [one of the teachers] has recommended is by Edmund Sprunger, Helping Parents Practice. I have read some aspects of it several times.
Natalie is very young, and I imagine will get physically tired easily. My children started at 5 years of age and I know our practices weren’t longer than 10 minutes at first. I could see how a couple 5 minute sessions might be useful for very young children.
You have a strong music background. I am trying to think if this would be an advantage or disadvantage. I think it will be an advantage later when she is playing Vivaldi. I don’t know about now though. I only had some basic piano training, the rest of my training is in the sciences.
Another thing I remember about the early times is that it seemed everyone seemed to be comparing children to each other. Especially in book 1. This should ease up as people’s lives take different twists and turns. Each child is different, each family is different. Sometimes there were things said in lessons that would be different than group. You and your private teacher are considered first priority. You and your private teacher know Natalie and what she needs best. I would consider [her teacher] very detail oriented, I bet you are too. Maybe Natalie is as well! You may have quite a perfectionist triangle! This could be good in the long run….could make it difficult in the short term. I am not a psychologist believe me. I think I know all the teachers pretty well. For all the different styles they have of teaching, each one of them has the child’s best interests in their hearts.
Erin, I hope this letter does not offend. I know you didn’t really ask me for advice. I have tried to help other new parents in various ways over the years and certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers. Some people say it just helps to hear that others have had this problem too. If even 1 little tidbit or comment helps it could be the turning point for you. Or get you over the hump. There will be more humps trust me but hopefully none as hard as the first big mountain.