An update on DD's progress with violin...

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Registered: 12-06-2010
An update on DD's progress with violin...
11
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 6:16am

DD, who just turned nine, has been playing with her new teacher since January and it has made a world of difference!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 11:33am

Well that's positive. It sounds like her reading is coming along. I confess the competitive thing isn't something I'd do with my kids at that age, but to each his own. Lots of parents do.

My dd8 is supposed to be learning the Fiocco Allegro too, but she's playing in an advanced orchestra program next month and has so much challenging music to learn for that that we've put solo repertoire on the back burner. The Fiocco is a fun piece, usually a quick learn and very gratifying. Your dd will probably love playing it. In our case it comes after the huge Corelli La Folia (has your dd learned that?) as a sort of treat after the slog of mastering the Corelli.

Piano lessons for you sounds like fun! Good luck!

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 12:13pm
There's value in forging one's own path, too. Your daughter has a good teacher/mentor, who knows how to get her the training and opportunities she needs. So she's all set.

There are drawbacks to having parents who are musicians. dd17 started spontaneously playing violin when she was somewhere between 3 and 4, but she didn't really progress. I found out years later that a) she didn't want to get better than her friend and b) she was embarrassed to practice if dh or I were in the house. She took up sax at 12 and did really well...but still wouldn't practice with one of us within hearing. Recently she has decided that she wants to go through the Suzuki repertoire with me, and she says "You are SO going to teach my children!"...but it's taken a long time for her to throw off our shadow. (And dh and I are only on the bottom of the heap...just reasonably good amateur musicians.)

Deborah
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Registered: 12-06-2010
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 1:25pm
Miranda, just to clarify, this is not a competition DD's preparing for. It's a state-run gifted program that has a very limited number of places. Just like any gifted program, you have to pass a test to get in - the only problem is that there are too many applicants and no room to expand the program, so they take the applicants with the highest test score. If you don't make it in but your scores are high, you can re-apply after six months.

As for the question of whether or not to compete, it's a tricky question and probably a great discussion for another thread. My twelve-year-old is hesitant to enter competitions even at the urging of her teacher. YDD thrives on competition. She has only entered one up to now, though - it's the national one her teacher urged her to enter about a year and a half ago. TBH, in retrospect it was a risky thing to do because I'm not certain she would have handled losing very well.

I was surprised at how quickly the Fiocco has been coming along with only a couple of days' worth of practice. DD's teacher won't meet up with her again until the end of August, so I'm relieved that it's not that tough of a piece. I've been concerned that she'd internalize too many mistakes over the summer and then have to unlearn them. But her teacher said the first page went beautifully on her own and she'll manage it. I'm just relieved that she can finally sight read.

I'm not familiar with the Corelli, but after reading about your kids and their playing I'm sure it's a great piece. DD's middle school advanced orchestra group is lovely and her teacher is great, but they're not up to playing more difficult pieces. Last year she was offered a place in the high school advanced orchestra, but I didn't think it as the right thing for a second grader, lol. If she gets into the new program, she'll be able to join their orchestra.

One thing I'm looking forward to is the Suzuki workshop in the fall, because of the beautiful orchestra pieces the children play. Is your daughter's program a Suzuki program, or is it separate?

I think I'm going to look up the Corelli La Folia now and show my DDs. I'll let you know what they think of it. ;)
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 1:36pm
Deborah, I hadn't thought of that - but it makes perfect sense. Are you and your DH both violinists? Do you ever play together? Sometimes DH accompanies the kids on the guitar and it looks like so much fun.

I'm sure you and your DD will have a great time doing Suzuki together! Do you have the "trio book" in the US? It's used here and has pieces for two and three violins from Books 1 and 2, I believe.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 3:55pm
dh and I both play viola and violin. He also plays mandolin, and I pick around a bit on mandola, the mandolin's larger cousin. I bought it when I had the chance to play in a mandolin orchestra...I'd love to start one where we live now...a sort of back burner project. We haven't played that much together, except in a contradance/bluegrass/etc. folk band, although we used to do a lot of "runouts", weekend gigs for various community orchestras. Now we're really in the sticks and we're doing that kind of stuff on a smaller scale (pit orchestra and chamber orchestra with choir)...but also we are playing together more. A couple of years ago we performed the Bach Double (overplayed but always fun) and this year we've played two Vivaldi doubles...an easy, and a hard...will probably perform this year.

dd17 got sort of informally somewhere in Suzuki Book 3. The reason we're starting at the beginning is because she wants to re-memorize all the repertoire and make sure the teaching points are in place. I have Suzuki accompaniments arranged for ensembles, but the only thing I've ever used is a duet book for a second violin for Books1-2. One day last spring I came home and caught dd17 playing violin...I had no idea that she could play so well, having done almost nothing other than a few fiddle workshops since her Book 1 graduation a decade ago. So I sorta tricked her into playing second violin in a Palm Sunday concert that dh and I were playing in...she pretty much memorized her part and it didn't matter much on the bit she didn't learn, because the pianist and the conductor beat the orchestra to the end by two measures. Anyway, dh and I and a septugenarian friend who started cello last year (he already plays violin and a bunch of wind instruments) have been playing a Mozart quartet without a second violin, so dd17 is going to join us after she learns her part. We've agreed that she doesn't have to perform with us, should we decide to make ourselves ridiculous in public.

Deborah
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 9:59pm

No, I realized it wasn't a competition per se, just a competitive audition process. Not a path I'd choose for my kids, but I have my own biases. Our kids have done competitive auditions no younger than age 12-13, even then just the very gentlest. Dd17 has done higher stakes auditions in the past couple of years. Still no real competitions. We live in Canada, which seems to have much less of a competitive culture than many nations, so maybe that's why it's been so easy to avoid.

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Thu, 07-07-2011 - 11:45pm
I guess the question I'd have is whether a parent or the child should choose whether or not the child enters a program, takes a test or competes. Probably in the case of standardized testing for academic giftedness, it's a call a parent would make. But in music and the arts, it seems better to me to let my child decide for herself. If anything, I'd feel uncomfortable telling her if and when she is allowed to set certain goals for herself. But that's me, in my shoes, parenting my kid.

I admit I had no idea why you were asking me about the La Folia piece. No, DD hasn't played anything out of Book 6 and it's possible that her teacher's aren't aware that it's a Suzuki piece.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 07-08-2011 - 1:22am
I think that you, and I, and some others on the board are in a rather unique situation regarding our kids' musical education: we are able to counteract unfairnesses because we are musicians, we are teachers, we know how to steer our kids to good mentors and make other musical opportunities for them. When my daughter expressed interest in continuing study on the violin, I was able to get her started right away, get her a nonthreatening but moderately challenging performance opportunity, get her playing some chamber music immediately. There's no way I could have accomplished that as a non musician. When she needed ensemble experience after we moved, and the public school band was not an option because she's a homeschooler, I knew how to arrange for her to have a teacher that would be able to prepare her to join the university's jazz ensemble, and because I'd played pit orchestras with the ensemble director, the director felt like he wasn't getting a completely unknown quantity when she became the ensemble's youngest member. And somehow by now dd17 has learned to navigate the musico-political waters as well...she's 2,500 miles away and she mentioned casually that she's taking sax lessons a couple of times a week and when she knows how many there are, could I kindly send a check to her teacher please? (She's taken lessons from this teacher before, but I've always had to set them up by email and then talk her down from the ledge before the first one.)

So while I'm with you on delaying and defanging "competition", I recognize that, for a non musician parent, it can be really difficult to avoid competitive situations without also destroying opportunities. In this case, it seems reasonable to me that the child prepare to "show her stuff" in order to get an opportunity to engage with similarly gifted peers. jmho...

Deborah
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Registered: 12-06-2010
Fri, 07-08-2011 - 5:49am
Thanks, Deborah - that was exactly what I was thinking. And this situation is really no different from arranging for your child to be tested for academic giftedness. I don't understand the insistence that this is a competition when it's not - there are no winners, no awards, there is no audience. The children take their exam privately, and it's a four-part exam including sight reading, writing down music, playing by ear and playing a difficult piece. If DD makes it in, she has to be able to do the basics. Six months ago, those basics were missing and DD was terribly frustrated because she couldn't progress, could hear it herslef and yet couldn't stop herself from trying to teach herself more.
And although I admit I'm puzzled that anyone would think I'm pushing my kid into competition, I guess I have to remember that no one here has seen my DD. I guess I feel confident because I never have to tell her or her sister to pick up the violin - because they love it and they want to take every step they take.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2009
Sun, 07-24-2011 - 11:40am

Wonderful to see your DD is still so motivated to play and she's learning new skills now! Fingers crossed she'll make the program.

I don't know what the options are where you are, but here the choice is between local art centre music classes, which means playing in groups of 4, 30 minutes classes, of which 10 pass by with tuning and talking, and then the pace of the classes are dictated by the slowest of the 4, or a private program which sounds more like the one you talk about. My girls have to do exams every end of the year, to 'earn' their spot in the program the next year. And it's also private classes, music theory, and ensemble classes. Funny enough it's not that much more expensive at all (in fact, with all the extra classes L is getting it's cheaper!)

Anyway, from that position, I didn't read 'pushy' in your choices for your daughter whatsoever. And I even don't see much harm in competitive settings for kids playing music as long as they themselves want to participate. Not much difference between a soccer game or a music concours if you ask me. My oldest loves the competitive element, it gives her a sense of purpose when practicing, because it's an opportunity to perform for an audience, which she loves (and which there aren't too many of). My middle daughter is not that competitive at all, but seeing her big sister do it, she realized she does like the part where a professional jury gives her advice/compliments, so she has also participated in a few now too (about once a year). It's different when you have the contacts or network as a parent to create performing occasions for your children, when you do not have those, you use the infrastructure available ;-)

As to being able to help her practice: even if you do not play an instrument or read a note, you can help your DD just by listening ('this sounds off, can you do it again, is that note really what it says?' etc) but also the most important thing I found my girls need is to help them to learn how to practice effectively: finding ways to deal with an error (repeat 3 times slowly, one time backwards just for fun, one time double speed just for fun, and then in the regular way etc... just any way your child thinks is fun to repeat a part a few times...), finding a good structure/planning for practice, creating a good moment on the day to practice etc. Those are things you can most certainly help her with... HTH :-)

Suzanne

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