Up till now, Curly Miss has been a bit behind in her violin group classes. We intentionally started her young and allowed her to go at the pace that was comfortable for her, with the result being that she generally was way behind in her group classes where most of the kids had a year or two on her, helping their coordination and attention spans.
She has never complained or seemed particularly bothered by her inability to keep up with the six-year-olds, but still I worried things might begin to get discouraging for her. Until this year.
She's into her third year of group classes with the Palouse Suzuki Strings (yes, I do their website) and she has really hit her stride. In the group playing class she is with four other kids who play roughly at her level, along with some older kids who know most of Book 1 and are well into Book 2. The teacher seems to be really good at making sure the younger ones have a "clap the beat" activity when the group covers songs they haven't learned yet. In the second class, the one geared toward reading music, Curly has really begun to shine. Her private teacher, Miss Katie, started her last year with identifying pitches and vocalizing rhythms, so she is by far ahead of her class in this area.
Like any kid, Curly needs the right balance of challenge and success in order to maintain her motivation. Up till now, violin has been almost all challenge and little success, so I am thrilled to see her get to be ahead of the game for once.
As she turns five and gains some better small-motor coordination, I expect we'll see more positive strides in her playing at home as well. Still, I don't at all regret starting her early as she has acquired music much as she would a language if she were bilingual. This "mother tongue" concept was Suzuki's primary goal and brain-development research (Steven Pinker happens to be one author I have read in this field) shows his ideas were sound as far as early formation of synapses and future fluency.