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My Son Wants To Quit...what do we do?


sunnybear

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Hi to all...haven't been posting for awhile, just lurking here and there.

My 11 year old wants to quit his Suzuki stuff..he has been playing for about 5 1/2 yrs (we started together) and is in Book 5 of Suzuki. He has a really good ear.

He says that his lessons are boring, but his teacher is GREAT>..she is anything but boring. She challenges him; he works on sight reading, scales, tonalization, and the Suzuki repertoire.

He WANTS to take some fiddling...we attended a Scottish Fiddling camp together this summer and had a great time, but as we all know, you still need technique to play.

So the question is, do we let him quit Suzuki altogether and just do some fiddling (his preference) or keep up the Suzuki and augment his studies with fiddling (our preference).

I would hate to see him lose interest in Suzuki (classical)altogether but we can't make him practice nor can we make him enjoy his lessons. We don't want to for that matter. We would rather see him enjoy it all on his own, but would a little gentle pressure be good? Should we "make" him continue with his Suzuki and do fiddling when he can, or let him make up his own mind as to what course to steer towards.

Anybody been in this situation? Any comments would be appreciated.

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My condolences! I just let my 14 year old quit band (Tenor Saxophone). We had a horrible year last year; although he loved the instrument when he started, he really dislikes the current band director...after a really stressful year I gave up fighting with him over it...

...I hope my son picks it up again down the road, because when he was practicing regularily he sounded quite nice...

...if I were you, and your son still likes it at all... I'd try and deal...tell him if he sticks it out another year, he can also fiddle (be it lessons or camps, etc.)...or bribe him with something else...and maybe next year he'll be back into it...

...I'd also let him quit Suzuki and only fiddle if it comes down to that...he hopefully has a good grounding in the basics (and should if he's in Book 5)...if he decides he wants to return to classical music he shouldn't have too many problems...

...due to a number of circumstances...I quit back when I was in Grade 9...and in retrospect I REALLY wish I had stuck it out...but I am back at it now...and having a blast with both the violin and viola...

...good luck! ...

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I say let him quit!!!

Two of the worst things I think a parent can do is offer too much support or offer none at all. Despite music being a lot of hard work, it should also be fun (as well as a means of self expression). And considering that he's only an 11-year-old with a few more play years left in him, it might be a good experience for him to go all fiddler.

Sure, it may be a little painful to think that your son is losing interest in classical music; but I think that would be the better alternative, the other being losing interest in the violin (or music) completely.

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If your son wants to quit the Suzuki stuff, and you say his teacher is great, then I would guess that it's the style of music he has become bored of. Find him a teacher that will teach him fiddle music, but still stress the technical side of things. They do exist, but it will take some hunting. Speak to his current teacher or contact a couple of music schools. I would guess that trying to get him to stick to the Suzuki stuff any longer will only have him quitting outright. It sounds like he's at an age where he is developing his own musical tastes, and it's not going to be classical. If you want him to play, let him play what he wants. The fiddle music probably seems quite exciting to him right now, and in the end he may come back to classical, but if he doesn't, so what? I know from my own experience that when parents try to force their kids to do something that the kid doesn't have a passion for the kid just ends up giving up for good.

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My daughter's interest in playing classical music increased a lot when she began playing in an orchestra and, especially, a string quartet. This summer she attended a chamber music camp, which she loved . And she came back with a lot of music that she wanted to listen to and play.

I think that this is partly because string quartet playing is more social than the rest of her violin activities (including her Suzuki group classes, which are still basically teacher led with the kids all playing the same thing). Also, the string quartet repertoire added considerable musical variety to the Suzuki pieces she was playing (The music she liked at summer camp was Debussy, Schumann, Shostakovich, and Mozart - While the Suzuki repertoire from mid-Book 4 to mid - book 7 is almost exclusively Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi). Boredom with the Suzuki repertoire does not necessarily indicate a dislike of classical music.

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Hello,

I have 2 kids who are string players and started off in Suzuki.

Two things struck me about your post: your son did not say he wanted to quit violin and he has apparently been with the same teacher for 5 1/2 years.

As much as my kids enjoyed and respected their teachers, they have needed a change around the 5 year mark. A new teacher gives a fresh approach to music which can be very inspirational.

Also, Suzuki Book 5 -7 are mainly baroque pieces with 19th century fingering. It does get very boring. My daughter made her move from Suzuki to traditional at the end of book 6. My son made his move in the middle of book 5.

Playing fiddle music does not preclude playing classical. We have a youth symphony coach who also fiddles. Last year the youth symphony's assistant concertmaster was also a two time fiddle champion.

Hope it all works out for your son!

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I have a young Suzuki student (9yo) who is winning all kinds of fiddling contests against much older students. The fiddling is sometimes quite complex and almost always by ear. One comment she has had several times from judges is to not give up the classical training because it will only enhance her fiddling. She is getting top points on her intonation and technique (as well as her musicality). That said, you might try to find a CD which is out fairly recently by a group called Time for Three. It is "classical" fiddling at its best and will show what you can do with exceptional technique. There is even a jazzed up version of the Bach Double. The artists are three young Curtis graduates, Nicholas Kendall, Zachary De Pue, and Ranaan Meyer. The CD can be ordered from the following e-mail address (and no, I have no connection with this group): Ranaan@hotmail.com. Nicholas Kendall grew up a Suzuki student--his grandfather was one of the pioneers of the Suzuki movement in this country.

I am a Suzuki teacher and supplement the repertoire with fiddling and other things. We fiddle from the last half of Book 1 on. Most of my teens need more than the straight Suzuki repertoire. We are doing duets and other ensemble pieces in group class to improve ensemble skills and make things more interesting.

Have you talked to your son's teacher about his desire to branch out and do more fiddling? She might have some ideas. There are some very good teachers in

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I think it's wondeerful that your son does not really want to quit violin - but only try a change - "fiddling."

You might ask him why? Is it the challenge of position changes or is really the music that he finds boring at this time?

I quit violin (and lessons when I was 12), played once 6 months later and resumed it never to stop again 6 months after that. When i finally gathered the courage to announce to my parents that I wanted to quit they respondedd that they wished I'd let them know sooner. (But the way my father was a lifetime amateur violinist of some accomplishment - it was his major hobby activity.)

A year after resuming violin I started cello lessons - an instrument I still play.

Fiddling is not quitting violin. I teach using the Suzuki books (but I'm not a "Suzuki teacher") and I do add in some fiddle pieces to challenge some of my students in their first year and to amuse more advanced students who are interested. Fiddle pieeces offer a lot of payoff for relatively little work - in my opinion - and make nice interludes to a classical repertoir.

Perhaps his current teacher could add some folk-genre music; why not ask?

Andy

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Thanks for all of the wonderful responses.

He does not want to quit violin per se, although he has discovered electric guitar (metal) and spends a lot of time playing around on the guitar.

He has not been with the same teacher for all of his years...as his needs changed, we switched teachers around...we have a GREAT Suzuki program where I live, as well as several levels of orchestras he could participate in, but I am thinking that one of the reasons that he does not want to continue with some lessons right now is that he does not want to practice...in a way it is HIS method of control over his parents...we have said things like "if you are not going to practice, we are not going to pay for lessons"...so in just there we are a bit torn as to what to do...go ahead and give him lessons as surely he will get something out of it, and hope that he will come to his own terms about practicing, or go on the premise that if he is not willing to put in some effort, then we aren't going to pay..

He is a bit bored with the all Classical repertoire right now, but not bored with Classical Music...he really does enjoy Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven (moving to romantic), but I think for him, the fire right now is in fiddling.

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Quite a few Suzuki teachers also fiddle (my daughter takes Irish fiddle classes with her violin / viola teacher)- if you can find one, s/he could put together a program with 80% fiddling and 20% continuing with Suzuki, and that might do the trick. My daughter (11 3/4, just starting Book 6) is about to do something parallel- she is in one of these plateau periods but expressed a strong desire to play the viola (without giving up the violin completely), so her teacher (who actually is mainly a violist) will be giving her something like 3 viola lessons and 1 violin lesson per month this fall. I also would second the point about orchestra- my daughter might well have quit some time in the past year if she didn't have the string orchestra in her community music school to look forward to, along with fiddle group (she'd miss her friends from both if she quit.) Finally, have you been taking your son to a Suzuki institute each summer? I think that's extremely important if you can possibly manage it. Note that almost all institutes have fiddling classes, often in more than one style.

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You're being abrasive, Austen, but you might have a good idea. (Or maybe I'm reading into your statement.) Who says that continuing classical violin in this case has to mean continuing Suzuki rep? In particular, you could try some classical pieces from different eras- especially 20th century stuff. the RCM Encore series, for example, has lots of neat pieces with more modern harmonies and neat effects- think pizzicato and harmonics! There is also good jazz-inspired stuff in those books.

Variety is the spice of life, right? Branching out into some different styles will probably be a lot of fun. (P.S- if you're still practicing with your son... its time to get out! Put in earplugs and hide in the basement, and let him learn to problem-solve on his own!)

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Of course it doesn't have to be Suzuki, but there are some built-in advantages like group classes, workshops and institutes that may be particularly important for retaining a potential quitter; the strong connection of the Suzuki community with fiddling is another advantage for this particular student.

P.S. in line with Daisy's comments, it sounds as though the teacher may not be doing enough supplementing of the Suzuki repertory. Another good source of graded pieces is the Barbara Barber "Solos for Young Violinists" series.

P.P.S. Another nice change of pace my daughter's teacher has been giving her is working a litle on the fundamentals of jazz improvisation using the John Blake "Jazz Improvisation Made Easy" book and CD.

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Quote:

P.S. in line with Daisy's comments, it sounds as though the teacher may not be doing enough supplementing of the Suzuki repertory. Another good source of graded pieces is the Barbara Barber "Solos for Young Violinists" series.


Steve, you took the words right out of my mouth/(mouse?):)

I have a couple of students in book 5 (I'm a trad teacher who often uses the Suzuki books for repertoire), and these students expressed to me that they were sort of sick of the Suzuki pieces, so we're supplementing them with Barber and others, and they're enjoying these. Variety is a GOOD thing!

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Austen, you silly boy, of course it does not have to be Suzuki...the Suzuki repertoire is just another means to an end, one that has worked very well for us...it is not the Suzuki method at question here, it is the reluctance of an 11 yr. old to continue down the path that his parents "think" would be best for him; i.e. a reluctance to continue a sort of formalized repertoire in the traditional (yes, at this point with all the folks that do Suzuki, I consider it another form of "traditional" approach) training.

This thread has been very beneficial to us...the bottomm line is if he loves the music, he will return to it one way or another. We will not deny him his hearts desire in exchange for what he really wants. That is not to say he has the ability to make his own decisions all of the time, but one of our fundamental parenting philosophies is that we try to provide our kids with the proper "tools" to make their own decisions.

We cannot make him (nor do we want to [too much struggle])practice ANYTHING that he is not interested in. Might as well be something that he enjoys, right?

He wants to do some fiddling, so be it.

I think it was some sort of seperation anxiety from a tried and true method that has led to all of tis, and to that point, why not have a little anxiety over the issue?

He really loves music and if I had a crystal ball in front of me right now, I would be safe in saying that music of some sort will always be a part of his life.

I guess we have then succeeded in enriching his life.

(upon reviewing this post, at one point, I think I come across as seeming that a fiddling lifestyle would be subsatndard to a classical approach...I think that I really mean that the issue of technique and training is at hand, not upon which style he learns it)

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It's definitely better to let him gravitate toward the music that most interests him rather than see him lose interest and passion. If he retains his love of making music, and you can help him cultivate a sense of excellence in musicmaking (in whatever genre and on whatever instrument), then he'll probably always want to rise to the level of developing the technique he needs in order to meet the musical challenges in front of him. The discipline and musical skills he'll develop along the way will never be wasted.

Editing to add, in interest of full disclosure, that I was an 11-year-old violin quitter -- became disgusted with teachers/repertoire and lacked challenge and suitable mentoring. Eventually went on to music school, just not in violin. With your caring parenting and the good advice of all the other posters, your son is bound to do better than I did!

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Any child in their teens (and many quite younger) is quite capable of making choices and decisions on their own with some help from an adult. I would not "mentor" one way or the other rather I would gather information in an attempt to really understand what is motivating the child to not or to play the instrument. Often times in digging for clues the child will find answers to questions he never knew even that he had. He might also discover that what he thought he wanted was not what he really wanted. It is wonderful to see a young person's reality change as they work through this process.

I find a really interesting tactic when dealing with young people is to make them work through thier decisions and weigh the consequences just as if they were adults. In the case of the youngster who wanted to switch programs I would make sure they knew where they were going on their current path and where they were going if they switched paths. What is the goal in switching and how are they intending to get there? Often times young people (and sadly enough adults too) get caught in a "grass is greener" situation which catapults them through program after program without ever really addressing the core thing that they need.

Find out what it is that motivates him and the correct path will be easy to see.

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Quote:

Any child in their teens is quite capable of making choices and decisions on their own with some help from an adult. I would not "mentor" one way or the other rather I would gather information in an attempt to really understand what is motivating the child to not or to play the instrument. Often times in digging for clues the child will find answers to questions he never knew even that he had. He might also discover that what he thought he wanted was not what he really wanted. It is wonderful to see a young person's reality change as they work through this process.

I find a really interesting tactic when dealing with young people is to make them work through thier decisions and weigh the consequences just as if they were adults. In the case of the youngster who wanted to switch programs I would make sure they knew where they were going on their current path and where they were going if they switched paths. What is the goal in switching and how are they intending to get there? Often times young people (and sadly enough adults too) get caught in a "grass is greener" situation which catapults them through program after program without ever really addressing the core thing that they need.

Find out what it is that motivates him and the correct path will be easy to see.


LOL, that is SO YOUR philosophy you Karla..... And it is a REALLY good one, it working on me

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Hi,

Your son may just want a break, not quiting completely I hope.

Let him realize that he has accomplished a lot and there

will be more to come if he wants to continue. Watch some

videos of some world class soloists played. They inspired everyone.

Take part a competition. It is certainly not boring.

Just my thought.

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(Continue) My daughter, my nephew quited when they

reached college age.

They did not take the music career path. They are in 40 and 30 now and are happy in their chosen fields of career.

Their youngster violin training are always with them. Once a while in Family union occasions, we brought out our

dusty violins and played to have fun together.

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'...but here we get into the philosophical discussion of what is "mentoring"...should we, as parents, be "mentoring" him towards sticking with the program?'

- You absolutely should! He is not the first pre-teen/teen to drop violin/viola/cello for something more popular and a lot easier to play. It's up to you to bring into the situation, your understanding and appreciatiion of the higher art forms instead of settling for something that's fun and more appealing for now. Same goes for math, which in a lot of cases is not fun at all. Which kid today will pick violin over electric guitar?(I know your's has been playing for a few years now). Unless it is an interest in classical guitar and not just 'making some noise' with friends. It is up to you to educate your child that while other hobbies look attractive and fun from the outside, a lifetime of satisfaction can be had from the pursuit of the higher art forms, just knowing that you picked the more difficult alternative. So learning art over making a general mess with paint should generally be preferable, so should doing theater with real acting, as opposed to trying to make it on a TV reality show.

In the end of course you cannot force a discipline on anyone, but I'm assuming you can share your significant wisdom in music as a parent and over the years have determined that your child does indeed have an aptitude for music and violin.

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Your son's basic violin skills will be maintained to some extent by fiddling. There is a lot more to music than violin playing and the things that many violinists learn. A person can play violin at a high level without knowing much music theory. However, there are other instruments that enhance learning theory - guitar and pianoo, for example.

So there may be a positive aspect to this change. Perhaps you could list the options your son wants to try in music and the positive aspects of each. There should be no negative aspects with what he does in music, only, perhaps, in what he does not do (or stops doing).

My own son dropped piano after his first recital (at about age 5 or 6) took up trumpet (because his arms were too short for trombone) which he played through HS, added guitar before puberty and learned to play all the chords and lots of speed (bass guitar too). His first 2 years out of HS were spent in a professional rock (top 40s) band touring the US southwest and Hawaii. He then spent his years (when he wasn't in school) trying to make it with his own musical compositions - to no great economic success - but he is good. He has gone on to own his own business in a totally different area.

He tried violin for a week (Easter vacation) when he was 12 and made it pretty well through Suzuki book 1 - didn't want to be stuck taking lessons from his father (I can't blame him). 24 years later he took another couple of violin lessons from me and has contined for these past 3 years. He plays his various instruments (including violin) with people he meets in his work-related travels.

We never know what the future will be, but we can do what we can to keep our children in our families (if you know what I mean).

Andy

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