Violin lessons aren't fun

I’ve been teaching violin lessons for a long time, and at some point in every student's time with me, I hear something like this: 

“ He’s not having fun.”

“I can’t get her to practice at home because she doesn’t think it’s fun.”

“He’s been on the same piece for weeks now and it's not fun for him anymore.”

When they started, violin was new! Exciting! The child proves themselves responsible enough and moves from the box to the REAL VIOLIN!  The screeches turn into discernible sounds, which turn into “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and every lesson unlocks a new skill and possibility, until, one day...

little girl frustrated

Violin lessons aren't fun anymore. 

I get it, Mom and Dad. Nobody likes to see their child get discouraged and frustrated. It's hard to find the motivation to drag yourself to a lesson week after week when you've been met with nothing but pushback and complaining at home. After a while, that wears a parent down until there isn't much fight left, and you're ready to quit so you can reclaim some peace in your day. It's one less battle, and you can control this one. 

But, can I offer some words of encouragement to you, O Weary Parent?

This is common. This happens to every single child at some point, whether it's with violin, sports, reading, or any other skill that has to be learned over time and doesn't always come with instant gratification or immediate results.

Is quitting an option? Sure it is! There are times to pull the plug, but most of the time the only thing that quitting teaches the child is that something is only worth doing when it is enjoyable to them 100% of the time. 

Here's the thing: Playing the violin is enjoyable. It's gratifying. It's a skill that you can give your child that will last them their whole lives.

When you commit to learning a skill over time like the violin, you are committing to learn even when it's not fun RIGHT NOW.

This is a golden opportunity as a parent to teach your child persistence and integrity.

It's an opportunity to teach your child that moving on to the next thing before you've mastered what's in front of you may help you feel better in the short term, but is only deferring that frustration to a later date. 

Does that mean violin has to be drudgery and trudgery all the time? Absolutely not! If you're noticing that your child is in a rut with practicing, here are a few ideas to help them climb out:

  • Go on a "practice tour" around your home. Changing your location changes what's happening in your brain. Frustrated in the living room? Leave it behind and serenade the bathroom mirror or patio instead!
  • Use a timer. Instead of spending an entire practice session on that one frustrating passage, try the pomodoro technique. Set a timer and break up the session into smaller pieces.
  • Meet basic needs. Is your child hungry? Thirsty? Rested? When possible, make sure your child's basic needs are met to give them the best chance at learning.
  • Stuffed animal concert. Line up dolls/stuffed animals/action figures and have your child play a concert for them.
  • Visually track progress. Sticker charts, check marks, and moving something from one jar to another are all ways to help your child think about their progress in a more tangible way. Also...

Make sure you and your child are listening to great music together.

Find professional violinists and see them live, or play recordings! This serves as a great motivator and helps keep the end goal in mind: to play beautiful music, and have fun.