When To Start Violin Lessons
I am of the opinion that it is never too early to start if a child has shown an interest in learning said instrument. Once the curiosity is there, it is best to strike while the iron is hot, if you will. Children are sponges, and their attention can be diverted to something else very quickly if a sudden interest in something is not nurtured or encouraged in some way.
One thing that is extremely helpful is if a child can hold their attention and focus for a short while. And by short, I’m really talking about 10 minutes or so at any age under 7! Once a child enters school (especially around first grade), they are more accustomed to paying attention to a teacher for longer periods of time, but before that, be aware that a 30 minute lesson, with about half of that being good, solid instruction, is what you will probably be aiming for. The thing is to nurture the interest and the love of music, not to create the next Yo Yo Ma or Anne Akiko Meyers in a few short years (although that would be nice, too!).
Now, many people will ask if they have somehow missed the boat or done a disservice to their children if they haven’t started private violin lessons until later. Definitely not. The real beauty of music is that it can be undertaken at any time! In fact, I have many beginning violin students who are not only pre-teens and teenagers, but also well into their fifties and sixties! When a child is very young, much of the time will be spent learning the coordinated movements and motions of playing, while an older child will need less time to master these things.
How to Find a Great Violin Teacher
Sometimes it feels like a needle in a haystack, other times it feels like there are so many choices you don’t know where to turn. First of all, find someone who is a good fit for you or your child. Someone who can be firm when needed, but definitely has a relatable personality that will get along with you or your student. Someone passionate about music, violin lessons, and the arts, is going to be a good bet.
One of the greatest things about violin teachers; they tend to be people passionate about their job! In this day and age, it is difficult to go into a profession that you can wholeheartedly say you are passionate about. Most have to pay the bills. If some enjoyment comes with the job, then great. But, with music and violin teachers, the passionate component to the job is almost built in! That passion comes through when they are working with students and giving music lessons in the home. You will see this come through as you occasionally observe the lesson taking place.
Heart of the Matter
At heart, we musicians are communicators. As a teacher, my role is to give my students the technical tools to musically communicate. Of course, I have the obligation to teach the traditions of our musical forefathers, but when the student ultimately reaches a certain aptitude for the instrument, the rest is up to him or her!
Sounds complex? Even a beginning 4 year old can transcend basic music through self expression. They don’t even have to try! Ever hear kids sing a playground song over and over (and over) again? What they are really doing is emoting through the music. As they “work it out”, they are perfecting their own expression in a unique way. Children are already creative by nature.
Applied to violin, once a child knows how to hold the violin and the bow, he or she can make up songs. Adult beginners can also find again what is all-too-often a long-lost creative impulse that we were all born with. In fact, practicing the violin is a wonderful outlet for this, and on an elemental level, is equivalent to singing in the shower. The beauty of this is that the journey never stops. Taking violin lessons can be the first step to this great journey!
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