Music or no music?

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Registered: 04-11-2004
Music or no music?
Fri, 05-21-2004 - 8:17am
I've also posted this question on the "Grade-Schoolers" board, but thought I'd try it here, too, in case some folks feel more at home on one board than the other. I'd like to get the maximum numer of opinions.

Here's the situation:

My 10yo DD is finishing up her second year of violin. She used to love it. In fact, a few months ago her biggest dilemma was that she wanted to play both violin AND flute next year when band becomes an option, but the school said "no, just one or the other."

In recent weeks, she's been complaining that she "stinks." She thinks she's holding back the class and doesn't want to play in the end-of-the-year recital. I talked to her violin teacher, who says she's actually one of the better musicians in the class. I've tried to be encouraging, as has her violin teacher, but she weepily tells me that she doesn't want to play in the recital. I've tried to see if there's some unstated reason why she doesn't want to be in the recital, but haven't been able to get anything else out of her. (It's not stage fright, she's actually quite a ham). She's also making noises like maybe she just wants to chuck violin altogether.

DD has a history of taking up new activities, only to quit them once they get past the introductory phase and start getting into the stage where you need to work a little to advance your skills. I'm wondering if that's what's behind this. At two years, she's stuck with this longer than anything else she's ever tried.

1. Do I insist that she play in the recital?

2. Do I insist that she continue with violin even if she point-blank asks to quit? I don't see how she'll ever get skilled at anything if she always quits as soon as the going gets a little harder. Or will insisting just make her loathe it?

I'd appreciate any advice other folks may have.

-- Stephanie

Stephanie, CL of the Dating as a Single Parent board:

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Registered: 05-02-2003
Fri, 05-21-2004 - 1:00pm

Hi Stephanie,

In answer to your questions, I think I would insist on the

Sherrie Rainbow

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Registered: 04-11-2004
Wed, 05-26-2004 - 9:12am
Thanks to the folks who wrote in. The most helpful was a music teacher on the Grade-Schoolers board who gave me the scoop from the teacher's point of view.

Essentially, everybody recommended that she play in the recital. As for violin next year, if she continues, let her know it's a full-year commitment.

The music teacher told me that it pi$$es teachers off to have a vital gap in the line-up. There may be only a few kids playing one portion of a piece, and they need everybody in the class. It also makes the teacher grouchy when she has to rearrange the physical line-up of the kids at the last minute because of no-shows. Finally, she said that the other kids get annoyed at the no-show and tend to treat him/her like a social outcast afterwards.

I told my daughter that she WILL be playing the recital because it's part of the school year and because her teacher and fellow students are counting on her. I got the "storm clouds over the head" treatment for about an hour afterwards, but then she was remarkably sunny about the whole thing. There's something about putting my foot down ... as long as she thinks there's a chance I'll change my mind, she'll pester me. Once she knows I'm firm, she just accepts it (not necesarily without some grumping first, mind you!)

I had a chat with her violin teacher on Monday, since I happened to be at the school for the oral presentation of my daughter's term paper. I did get one clue of what might have been bugging her (my daughter flat-out refused to tell me why she was on the "don't want to do the recital" kick). Strings players can't have long fingernails because it interferes with their fingerwork on the neck of the instrument. I didn't know this because I played clarinet, where you place the pads of your fingers on the instrument to play it. My daughter has taken great pride this year in growing long fingernails. Her violin teacher has been on her case about cutting them ... and naturally, my daughter didn't say a word to me. It would explain why she wouldn't tell me why she didn't want to do the concert -- she knew darned well that I'd snort "violin's more important than long nails. Cut them!"

I was going to take her to the nail shop and insist that she cut her nails, but sweeten the experience by letting her get a pedicure (which she's been wanting for a long time). Unfortunately, ran out of time as I had to work late Monday night and the recital was Tuesday. Instead, I cut her fingernails in her sleep (yeah, rotten I know). Interestingly enough, she hasn't said a word about her shorter nails.

Anyway, the recital went off without a hitch, and I didn't hear any squeaks from her part of the stage. About a year ago, I bought a miniature violin on eBay that my daughter thought was cool (without telling her I'd purchased it). It's a tiny reproduction of a violin, a high-quality model complete with a little horsehair bow. I meant to present her with it at last year's concert, but forgot. Perhaps that was fortunate, because the gift was more meaningful now. I gave her the miniature violin after the concert and told her how proud of her I was. She squealed, threw her arms around me, and said "thank you, Mommy!" Then she proceeded to show off her mini-violin to anyone who would hold still enough to listen. She even tried to play it (not much sound quality there, but she was still happy).

So, recital is over and I haven't heard a word about quitting. One crisis over. Whew!

Thanks to all who wrote in!

-- Steph

Stephanie, CL of the Dating as a Single Parent board:

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Registered: 05-02-2003
Wed, 05-26-2004 - 2:44pm
I'm glad everything turned out so nicely.

Sherrie Rainbow

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Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 05-26-2004 - 3:04pm

This is what I would do. I would insist she play in the recital, because it was expected of them from the begining of the year. IF she comes to you and says I WANT TO QUIT, then I would tell her needed to continue up to a certain date and then make her decision. That way she isn't just making without real consideration and sometimes after a little while they end up liking it again. Also maybe she just needs a break, maybe during the summer break she will start to enjoy it again.

Good luck and let us know


I'll hold my head high
I'll never let this define
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Love myself, give it Hell
I'll take on t

Avatar for cl_janetlh
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Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 05-29-2004 - 9:14pm

That's great! Glad it all worked out!

I played piano, and I remember my teacher didn't like when my nails clicked on the keys. Fortunately, he never pushed me very hard on the issue, so I stuck with piano and long nails, LOL!


Jewish Family Life

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Registered: 02-12-1998
Tue, 06-01-2004 - 12:41pm
I wouldn't make her play next year. I started taking piano lessons when I was 7 and took them for 8 years. I was okay, it was not a natural talent, just a learned one. I wanted to quit several times but my parents guilted me into staying with it. I have hardly touched it for 30 years.

My next door neighbor plays with our large city's symphony orchestra. I was asking him how he felt as a child, when he knew that this was what he wanted to do. He said he played for the first time when he was 9 and knew that that is exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He was never forced to practice.

My point is that if a child has a natural love of the instrument and natural talent, you wouldn't have to "force" or guilt them into playing. It would be part of who they are. You can force them, but for what? Like me, when they are old enough to quit the will, then they'll probably never play again. And wonder why they were forced at all.

As far as the recital, I don't know. I guess if my child was begging me to not play and I wasn't going to make them play anymore I wouldn't do it.