Sunday, December 28, 1997

Erin's Violin Blog 5

I've told Erin that when she is four we will start working at the violin again. (She turns four in less than two weeks.) I am committed to finding a way to make it work for us this time. We really have fizzled over the last three or four months. It's not that progress is at a standstill (though it is), it's that we haven't managed to establish a routine of daily practising.

I need to find ways to make this work. We find it very difficult to practice productively and agreeably. There is no routine of weekly lessons with some third party, no one of whom I can say "remember, your teacher said that we should practice this at least five times...won't she be happy to see how much better it is this week". All our regular interpersonal baggage gets mixed in with our music, and there is no "oasis" outside of our relationship where Erin can build her motivation, her confidence and her sense of independence.

Still, I believe I am doing this for the right reasons, and I am committed to making it work. I will make it work, I WILL make it work, I WILL MAKE IT WORK!

Saturday, December 13, 1997

Erin's Violin Blog 4

I am trying to completely re-think both my motivation and my approach in teaching Erin. If I were to give myself advice at this stage I would say:
  1. Remember that I am not primarily trying to teach the violin. I am trying to grow a capable confident human being with a good spirit.
  2. The most important thing learned in the first year is that it is normal to practise every day, that the violin is as much a part of life as brushing one's teeth.
  3. Pre-schoolers love repetition because it reaffirms their sense of mastery. They may regret mastering a task if it means they have to leave it behind and take on something new. Review old tasks not just because this consolidates learning, but because they enjoy the sense of competence. I think I push Erin too quickly to the next task once the first task seems okay. It must be frustrating for her to not get a chance to enjoy what she can do easily.
  4. The issue of control is important. Erin is at the age where she is learning to separate herself from me and assert her independance. (More on this ten years from now!) Without turning some constructive control of the lesson or practice over to the her, the only way she can assert herself is by refusing to cooperate ("I'm tired, I need a rest") or by intentionally doing a shoddy job. I need to find constructive ways of giving a sense of control to her.
  5. I need to remember that I am doing a fine job teaching my daughter, regardless of tangible progress on the instrument if I am continually and thoughtfully re-evaluating my relationship with her, enjoying the process of watching her learn, keeping the whole child in perspective, rather than just the music student, and learning from her in the process.