A term of violin and cannot play simple basic tune?

(76 Posts)

Is that normal?

She has been doing violin after school since September, they didnt even use the bow till November, she cannot play anything at all not even a very basic couple of notes tune.

Is this normal or am I wasting my money?

TheSecondComing Sat 29-Dec-12 16:47:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArkadyRose Sat 29-Dec-12 16:48:56

Fair enough - kids can be put off learning an instrument far too easily when their parents have unrealistic expectations (my late ex-husband was a flute/clarinet/piano teacher so I saw it happen a lot with his younger pupils) hence why I mentioned it. Some kids have a greater affinity for stringed instruments than others, which will also affect how fast she picks it up.

If she's bored with it already but it's too late to cancel, let her stick out another term and see if she gets into it more - try playing some of the more entertaining violinists' stuff to her, like Vanessa Mae or Nigel Kennedy, see if that inspires her a bit? If that doesn't do the trick, maybe she'd be happier with something that shows results faster like a wind instrument - at 10 she's old enough to have the arm length & strength for a flute or clarinet, both of which play on the treble clef & have the same range as the violin, so the sheet music she'll be playing from will be very similar. Though be warned - learner clarinets squeak. wink

GlaikitFizzogTheChristmasElf Sat 29-Dec-12 16:52:03

Is this the first instrument she has played? It sometimes takes a while to find the right fit.

I had a go at quite a few before finding "the one"

Tenor horn (little tuba)
Guitar
Oboe
Piano
Cello (only had 2 lessons, but humphing this back and forth to school was a killer)
And eventually settled on percussion! Not just tingling a triangle in the school orchestra! I got the big drums and the glissando to play with.

I did my higher music with voice as my first instrument and tuned percussion (xylophones) as my second.

If she isn't enjoying the violin see if there is a music room somewhere she can try out a few different instruments with tutors there. I'd give it a bit more time though first.

nowahousewife Sat 29-Dec-12 16:53:52

Violin cannot be compared to piano where a child can pick up a simple tune after only a couple of lessons. My DS wanted to learn piano when he was 7 but as the lessons were full his school placed him with the violin teacher. One year of 121 lessons produced barely recognisable Mary Had a Little Lamb. He then switched to piano and was knocking out tunes almost immediately.

I play piano and was absolutely clueless about the violin so took a couple of lessons with his teacher and it is really hard.

Bonsoir Sat 29-Dec-12 16:56:46

I wasn't comparing violin to piano. I was comparing children who did 121 and music theory with children who did 122 and no music theory.

nowahousewife Sat 29-Dec-12 17:42:58

Sorry Bonsoir, have just glanced over thread and hadn't read you post. Wasn't commenting on you experience, just sharing our experience for hopefully OP's benefit.smile

Verugal Sat 29-Dec-12 17:58:03

Ds1 does group lessons twice per week and one general music class including theory. After a term he was playing a variety of tunes on open strings only. After a year he could play simple tunes and scales quite well. After 4 terms he can do more difficult scales and will do grade 1 at Easter. Strings are slow going at first but then progress speeds up, unlike brass and woodwinds that whizzed to grade 3 and stagnate. Seems to even out at grade 5 though.

ZZZenAgain Sat 29-Dec-12 21:53:33

don't know what is normal. dd played pizzicato first lesson, bow from the second . Lesson was 3/4 hour, practce about an hour a day, about 6 little tunes to learn each week . Got a theory book to teach her notes in order to keep up. Maybe teacher moved fast, I assumed it was normal. Recognisable little tunes (2-3 lines) from beginning, working through a book

Piano much faster but then the musicality is already developed, no idea if she had begun with piano whether progress would have been faster.

First violin teacher was Russian, book also Russian, so perhaps a different method to your dd's teacher.

Think learning to hear and recognise the notes as you play is more imp at the beginning than almost anything else. Is your teacher focussing on developping her ear perhaps? Should nevertheless always stay music IMO, so no recognisable tune does not sound tome like the right approach. No wonder she doesn't like it

ZZZenAgain Sat 29-Dec-12 22:07:43

presume she is using a book. Which one is it? How far have they got?

I'd talk to the teacher since dd has lost interest and you are not sure about the rate of progress. See what the teacher says , don't think a term is much time really. Depending on what teacher says, give it another term and get a theory book to work through at home to learn the notes etc bit by bit alongside. Really took off for dd when she began playing in ensembles. Maybe your dd would enjoy that, ask teacher when that might be possible and if she can recommend something?

mamalovesmojitos Sat 29-Dec-12 22:11:58

Great advice here and let me add my voice that this is normal smile. It takes time with violin and it requires lots of patience as they don't get quick results.

DeWe Sun 30-Dec-12 00:05:58

Sounds slow to me. I was expecting you to say that she was 5 or 6.
But does she practice?

Practice makes a huge difference.
I learnt the violin in year 4, a shared lesson between 5 of us. I practiced 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week (yep, I was keen!). I did my grade 2 in 4.5 terms and grade 3 a year later. One boy practiced 2-3 times a week. He did his grade 1 after nearly 3 years. The rest never bothered practicing and were still struggling with playing 3 blind mice at the end of 2 years. I wasn't naturally better than the others, or particularly musical, just that was the difference practice makes. (I then stopped practicing after that, so never got beyond grade 5)

I've been fiddling with ds (age 5yo) with a violin I got for him from a charity shop. I'm not a teacher, so I don't know what I'm doing in a lot of ways.
He's had the violin since just before half term, and he does 5 minutes practice when he wants to, which may be every day for a week, or may be not at all. He's competent on his open strings (bowing), and I'm just introducing his first finger, which is a bit of a stretch as he'd be better with the smaller size violin ideally.

emmac52000 Sun 30-Dec-12 08:45:47

If you start music as early as poss ie 5 or something by the time your 10 it's easier as you have an ear for it. I agree with the person that maybe try a selection of instruments as I did trumpet and cornet as my first tries recorder violin keyboard and guitar. Still playing guitar at 31 since 14. Every instrument I learnt has helped me play my guitar now. 1 term is not enough to learn something from scratch to basic I reckon about 1 year to learn some songs. 2 years and grade 1 is achievable. Some people go for it and others are plodders. That's fine as we are all individuals. Violin is so hard but I reckon learning an instrument is like learning to drive and pass your test. The ups and downs of achievements and difficulties. I say don't give up yet wait till the end of the year and see where you've got smile

noteventhebestdrummer Sun 30-Dec-12 10:13:45

I'm surprised slow progress is this common - my September starters on violin mostly all manage to play Jingle Bells by December. I do bribe them with stickers to practice though!smile

GrumpySod Sun 30-Dec-12 11:55:57

Is this 10 minute group lessons? Then it sounds like typical progress (DD has had school lessons for 5.2 years). You must find a way to make her practice for her to make real progress and get to point of actually being able to take grade exams (if you both want that, or similar achievement).

Speaking from experience. DD is hoping to take Grade 3 exam in April. She was first person (in school violin lessons) ever at her school to take a music exam.

GrumpySod Sun 30-Dec-12 11:57:43

ah, silly me, didn't read OP's 2nd message re time/classmates.
Then it does sound like slow progress, but not impossibly slow.
So much about success in music is rhythm, they are laying groundwork for that, I imagine.

kitkat1967 Sun 30-Dec-12 22:26:59

I think this is slow progress - my DS (who is def not a musical genius!!) - started Violin 1 yr ago and is playing grade 4 pieces now and looking to take grade 5 in about 6 months time (he likes to have a plan!).
He is just 9 now so started when he was 8 - he only has his 1/2 hr lesson once a week, term time only, and doesn't do any theory lessons (it hadn't occured to me that he should but I notice from this thread that lots of others do).
I would estimate that after 1 term he had completed several books - he practices every day - but only 20 to 30 mins at a time. I know nothing about string instruments but it looks quite straightforward to me - he is a very good mathematician so finds it all very logical I think. During the first few months he found that he had to limit his practice as his wrist hurt if he played for a long time but that is the only problem he has had.
BTW - he had tried a few wind instruments with zero success - so I think it's all about finding the right instrument smile

flussymummy Tue 01-Jan-13 01:48:03

Totally normal! Violin is difficult!! I'm a pro violin player and teacher and would generally reckon that an average child starting in Sept would get to the "Jingle Bells" stage by the second Christmas of lessons, whereas a wind player would most likely be attempting it in the first term... There are many things to get to grips with first.

FionaJT Fri 04-Jan-13 21:53:00

noteventhebestdrummer - I think you must be my daughter's teacher! She started violin in September (beginning of Y3) and has been playing Jingle Bells hesitantly but recognisably over the Christmas holidays. And she gets stickers for practising.
(Dd practises 5-10 minutes a day 5 or 6 days a week, and has a half hour lesson weekly with one other girl).

ArkadyRose Fri 04-Jan-13 21:59:38

kitkat He'll need to start doing theory before he does his Grade 5 - you can do up to Grade 4 practical without needing the equivalent theory grade, but after that you must have the corresponding theory grade before doing the practical.

maggiethecat Fri 04-Jan-13 22:57:41

Arkady, I thought that you needed grade 5 theory to go beyond grade 5 practical - did not realise you needed it before grade 5 practical.

Not good for us because dd is approaching grade 5 and we have done little theory practice.

CitizenOscar Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:19

My parents made me give up the violin. I think after a couple of years. Can't blame them; I was probably shit and must have been awful to listen to.

Switched to clarinet which was much better. I still wasn't much good and far too lazy to practise but could hold a decent jazzy tune soon enough.

Violin is definitely not for everyone!

Millais Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:48

Depends on the board maybe. ABRSM ask for the theory before Grade 6 is taken

pugsandseals Sat 05-Jan-13 12:54:30

I am also a violin teacher & wanted to mention 2 things.

1- I have worked for many different music services & there are many that won't even touch a violin for the first few weeks & concentrate on aural training. These pupils do very well after about a year.

2- Just look at a piano, see all those notes? Well a violin only has 4 of them. Every single one of the others the child will need to learn to hear in their head before they can find it on their instrument. How long do you think this will take?

There will be some children who have been learning the aural & theory in music classes since they were born through high class baby & toddler music sessions. Others come to it randomly at a late age (anything past 5 is late internationally) having possibly done some choir singing. As Yehudi Menuhin said, the violin is practically the only instrument that plays in 3D - up down, in out & side to side.

You will never get a rate of development on violin like you will on any other instrument in the first 3 years. However, violin/viola/cello will bring much greater rewards & musicality later in life. All the best pianists & wind players in the world also play a stringed instrument, as do all the best conductors.

Sorry to have a bee in my bonnet, but the approach to violin playing is so vastly different to anything else you could possibly play (maybe with the exception of double reed) that to compare a beginner violinist with any other beginner instrumentalist is an insult!

There are free Kindle books on the subject of violin teaching, written by masters. They make very interesting reading for anyone who would like to understand more.

musicalfamily Sat 05-Jan-13 15:51:42

Pugsanddeals would you say then that a child like kitkat's or one who gets to grade1 or 2 violin in a year is exceptionally talented?

schilke Sat 05-Jan-13 16:05:07

Well, it depends on the child doesn't it? Ds2 had 1 term of violin lessons and then he took grade 1. This was 10 x 30 mins one to one lessons. He had tried piano before that, but wasn't keen. It just clicked with him. It has never sounded squeaky or crap.

However, dd1 has had 1/2 term of clarinet lessons and I can imagine it will be years before she does grade 1!

You mentioned that one child with the same teacher had had 3 years of lessons before grade 1 - that does sound slow progress.

Never compare to piano - dh is a brass player and always likes to say that a cat can play a piano....

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