Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Little Violin for a Little Lad: How its Worked Out

Testing out his violin for the first time (3yrs, 3 months old)

We started my son in violin lessons a few months after her turned three. It takes a certain three-year-old kid to start at that age. It takes one who has that determination, concentration skills and love of music to make it through the almost daily practices without a huge fight.

We could see that our son had that potential. Just as importantly, he seemed so responsive to music and playing an instrument at an early age. He really wanted to play the guitar. But violin was the only option. He was cool with that. Plus, living in the musical gifted city that we do, we found an amazing Suzuki teacher who is especially gifted at teaching the wee ones. So we gave it a whirl.

The first few months were the hardest. He hadn't even touched a real violin, and the "reward" of being able to play a song was not there. But as he mastered the "bow hold" and slowly, very slowly he started to learn how to play twinkle twinkle in various rhythms, and by his fourth birthday, he could play a whooping one song (sarcasm!) with 5 or so different rhythms.

Here is a cute video of him practicing one. He just turned four.

Even though he didn't learn very much musically that first year, we started young so that he could cultivate a skill to help with his self-confidence, and because it is a concrete way to teach him the benefit of a little hard-work.

Learning an instrument is an easy way for kids to see their progress!

Here he is just a year later, just turned five, playing three other songs.

For the first time in over a year, we watched that video of him practicing his twinkles at age four, and it really made us appreciate how far he has come. Now he is up to a dozen or so songs on the violin. He really took off after that first twinkle!

Today, with a little tear, we traded in his first violin, the smallest they make, for the next size up. He has had that little squawker for two years! Boy, the bigger one sounds so much better. But I will miss the little squawky, squeeky one.

Here is a short clip of his very last practice on his first little violin.

Drum roll please....

Here he is on his new violin. Here is Twinkle Twinkle for comparison.

Honestly, even if he gives up his violin as he ages, I still think it has been a wonderful and valuable experience for him. We don't think he is a musical prodigy or anything. But he is a special little guy, and I think he has needed something to channel his inner scorpio energy on.  I am all about channeling energy in good and productive ways.

Like I said, starting out a three-year-old in violin isn't for all kids. For some, the fight to get the kid to do it would far outweigh any benefits. But for us, it worked!

Now if I could just get my son to practice yoga more regularly with me....

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