Friday, March 15, 2013

Violin Lessons

Today was Grace's first violin lesson after a few months hiatus (my fault, I got tired and let it go). She's been asking me for a long time to start them again, and as I resolved in my post last week, today was the reinstitution of her lessons.

She's really quite a natural. Once she gets some more stamina, she won't have any trouble learning the rhythms or the notes and fingerings. She has a naturally good bow hold and curve of her fingers along the neck.

Her biggest obstacle will be her stubbornness. She has a tendency to argue, and can get a bit mouthy sometimes. That was one reason I stopped her lessons before, she didn't want to listen to what I was trying to teach her, she thought she already knew it all.

She has been more cooperative lately in general, and today she didn't argue with my directions at all. So that is a big indicator to me that her interest is genuine.

Big Brother Too

I asked Zak if he would like me to teach him either the violin again or the viola, and he said he'd like to learn the viola! Yay! For now I'm just going to order a set of viola strings to put on the violin that we currently have. If he really likes it and makes decent progress, then we can look into purchasing a real viola later. If they keep up with their lessons and practice hard, they may even be able to join the volunteer orchestra that I play in. Our director encourages all to join who are willing to work hard and she very kindly provides simplified parts for our beginners.

As a result, our beginners get the benefit of playing real music with real musicians in a real concert. It helps their confidence grow and keeps them excited which is very important when you are first learning. We plan to work hard all summer so that they hopefully will be ready for next year!

A note about the purple violin that Grace is playing. This violin started out as Zak's. Back in the day when my life wasn't quite as insane, I used to teach violin and piano a couple afternoons a week. At the time Zak was about four, and he started asking me if he could learn too. After he showed persistence for a while, Vincent agreed to buying him an inexpensive violin to learn on until he grew to fit the ones I already owned. We looked online for a long time and every time we asked him, Zak always picked out the dark purple ones. He just thought it was the most beautiful violin he'd ever seen, and he knew for sure he did not want an "icky brown one". Since he was so insistent, we acquiesced, happy that he found a surefire fit for his personality, and satisfied that Grace would probably be more than happy to inherit it once Zak outgrew it. We were so right!

This is one of those parenting choices that I am so proud of! When you just know right away that you did the right thing. Zak LOVED his purple violin! He took such good care of it and he attentively listened at each of his lessons. He never would have stopped if I had been more disciplined after we moved that time. Who knew five years would fly by so fast!

Passing on the Passion

So instead of just continuing to be mad at myself for neglecting to give my kids the chance to find out if they share my passion for making music, I'm giving them that chance. Maybe they will decide that making music isn't their thing. I'm okay with that, as long as they have had a real chance to find it out for themselves. Even if that means they experiment with several different instruments. Even if they don't want me as their teacher. I just want them to have the opportunity to the degree that I can provide it.

This is one of those core values that I will never forgive myself for if I let it get swept under the rug while they are young. And it's so easy with all the demands on us these days to let it, but I'm determined not to.

I know how much having a passion for something, music, art, animals, can really shape the people we become. I want to encourage my children to find their passions, and never have to tell them that I let those things slide because I was too tired.

I can't live with that.

And they should never have to.


  1. I think we all berate ourselves for starting projects with our kids and not making the time to finish them. Reading your blog is encouraging. I also started teaching my girl violin and stopped! Also, I want to try to work more on different things with my son. Maybe I'll try to start all these things up again! How old are your kids, by the way?

    1. My son is 10 1/2. And the girls are 6 almost 7 (in may, yikes!) and 18 months. I get so frustrated feeling like laundry and cooking end up using all my energy and sometimes it's so easy to tell the kids 'maybe next time'. But the truth is, the next times run out too fast! While the others are important, helping my kids become good well rounded, and skilled adults is really what's important, so they should get more of my energies! They deserve it, the laundry, not so much!

  2. Grace holds here violin like a little pro :-)

    Music's the medicine of the mind.  ~John A. Logan