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Karen Grace
Hello Beth/ any fellow teachers out there.

I'd really appreciate any insights into working with really young children. I had a 5 year old's parent approach me- they came for a trial lesson and would like to continue. I've taught a lot of 7 year olds and know how to work well with that age. I use the 'Fiddle Time' series.

My only previous experience working with a 5 year old I found so challenging. I just find they have so much energy and get distracted by anything in the room, even though I teach in fairly bare rooms. The little girl who came on Sunday was also really distractalbe, not standing in the same place for more than 30 seconds etc. Though I must have done something right as the father (also a musician) wants to continue, and says he will support her with practise. And honestly I need the money so I said yes!

Honestly there's a part of me that wonders if age 5 is simply too young to start. My instinct would be to do really fun high energy music and movement stuff with them or simple fun rhythm games, and not touch the violin much until they are 7. I think pizzicato is possible, but as soon as they get their hands on a bow, my experience so far is that the co-ordination and attention just isn't there yet. I'd love it if anyone out there had some gems of wisdom to share and I'd love to be challenged on this if any of you have experience of making it work. I'd particularly appreciate links to resources anyone has used.

Thanks very much in advance.

Karen
Karen Grace
8 Responses
Posted: June 10, 2019
Last Comment: June 11, 2019
Replies

Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 11, 2019
Karen,

I'm off to record some beautiful pieces for VL, but I'm going to write down some cryptic key words to explain later. I just talked to my friend who specializes in teaching little kids.

Pocket chart
Note Cards in each pocket with lesson task
Kid turns over card which reveals instructions: (simple as "hold bow wile teacher counts to 5")
this structure gives child permission to move
child can see the expectations
gives structure to the lesson
child sees what's been completed
Last card reveals another card that says something like "go pick out a prize"



Karen Grace
Posted: June 11, 2019
Thank you everyone for your thoughts- really helpful to read the comments. I've also been recommended String Babies and Bags of Fun which look good online. Wish me luck !

Elke Meier
Posted: June 10, 2019
I think the Suzuki approach with small children is to memorize everything. But at some point they need to start to read music. She was four when they started to work with David Tasgal's material as sight reading practice. They ARE really a lot of fun - and I think not always as easy as they make them sound! 

I remember an early video that they now have taken down. It was the graduation piece of the first book. Her mother asked her on the video how long it had taken her to finish the book. "Six months!" was the rather exasperated answer. It made me smile. Sure, for a four year old, six months it a good portion of her whole life :).


Dianne
Posted: June 10, 2019
Elke, I have been following Leila ever since you mentioned her. I was working on the Meditation From Thais 2 weeks ago and watched her performance of it when she had been playing for only four years. It was just absolutely charming to see someone so highly focused on violin and with terrific coordination between the hands, and the ability to memorize everything fluently. Do you know at which point her mother worked with her on learning to read music? She apparently is reading her chamber parts perfectly. What a lot of work mother and child has done!

Elke Meier
Posted: June 10, 2019
The mother of my favorite violinist, Leila Warren, who started at the age of three, told me once that for seven years now she has practiced with Leila just about every day. She does not play herself, but Leila liked her to be with her in the practice (and she practiced about an hour every evening at the age of 5 or 6 - voluntarily!). The mother said that she really doesn't mind to do that - apart from the times when Leila has to practice some second violin part... That was just very boring for her. Well, I can sympathize with that :). I was very impressed about her commitment. You could tell from many of the early videos that there was a strong bond between Leila and the mother as the one cheering her on and encourging her. At the same time they work hard to make sure Leila can be just a child inspite of her talent. I was/am very impressed with this family.

Dianne
Posted: June 10, 2019
That's wonderful that you are teaching children! I always wondered how 'starting at 4 years old' to become a pro works, it must mean superior parental involvement between lessons and perhaps a highly focused child. I picture group classes of 4-year-olds playing on cracker jack boxes and using small dowels to practice their bow arms, with the group class being a fun way to encourage participation. Thank you for posting this great question and I look forward to the teacher's responses for you.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 10, 2019
Dear Karen

There is a course by "coursera.org" by Northwestern University on teaching violin and viola. It is free unless you want a certificate. And a certificate is about Dollar 50. So not too expensive either.

A former member of this site, Diane in SoCal, took this course and spoke highly of it. And she was teaching children.

A new course is starting this Monday 10th June.



Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 10, 2019
Yikes, Karen. Now you know why I like teaching adults. I'm afraid I've never had the patience to "entertain" an active, easily distractible small child while at the same time teach them. And particularly difficult is getting them to repeat, and repeat. Otherwise they'll never learn. I do believe there are several good resources and I'll ask my expert colleague on the matter. I see her today (Laurie Scott). She's a master with the tiny ones.