Violinist and Faculty Member
Preparing for your first few music lessons can be a daunting task for families. What do we bring? Does my kid have to play the instrument beforehand? How do we know what to practice? As a parent/guardian, do I sit in on lessons?
Not to worry! All of these are common questions I get as a violin teacher leading up to and on the first lesson day (and after!).
First off, let me say that there are some general preparations most teachers will ask for as well as more specifics depending on the instrument and age. Here is a list of things teachers generally ask the family to bring to the first lesson:
Instrument – if you’re getting your violin at the first lesson, the teacher will fit the student at that time
Notebook for lesson notes – teacher or parent takes notes
Pencil (always have a pencil!)
Accessories for instrument – shoulder rest/sponge, rosin, rubber bands, etc.
Music books – this will be specific to instrument, age, and method the teacher prefers to teach (e.g. Suzuki method). Or your teacher will tell you which books to get before your second lesson!
Openness to learning something new and fun!
The first few lessons are always about getting to know each other and the instrument.
During the first lesson, the teacher will gauge the student’s interest and focus and can then determine how to proceed. We start with small tasks so it’s not overwhelming – as a Suzuki teacher, I start by talking about the violin and what the student may or may not already know about the instrument and how to play it.
Next, we go through the parts of the violin and bow so they understand how it works (super cool!). Then we learn how to hold the violin and bring it up to play position.
Then comes the best (and sometimes most challenging) part – how to hold the bow. After all of these steps, the playing can finally begin! We learn the names of the strings and how to pluck them, and then last but not least, we can put the bow on the strings and make some bowed sounds.
I know what you’re thinking – that’s a LOT of steps before my kid can actually “play” the violin! As a parent, I am sure you know that your kid will want to play something immediately. Afterall, that is why they chose to play an instrument!
While some instruments work more quickly at the beginning than others, violin is not one of those instruments – there are SO many steps we have to take just to make a decent sound, so patience is key! I promise (and I don’t usually use that word!) that if you trust and work with your teacher, take it slow, and focus on consistency and accuracy, your kid will be playing beautifully and comfortably in no time. Well, it’ll take a few months, but they will get there. 😉
As a teacher, I ask that the parent/guardian sit in on lessons as much as possible so that they know what and how we are working on things and can therefore help the child practice at home. This is especially helpful for younger children – to the age of 10 at least.
I know that schedules can be incredibly busy, so dropping your kid off sometimes might be necessary. However, the more physically present you are, the more your child will get out of lessons.
Parental commitment and engagement is a big factor that determines the success of the student.
Suzuki created something called the “Parent, Teacher, Child” triangle, which means that we are all part of the same team, all with different tasks and responsibilities. Remember, there is no “I” in Team! When all of us work together, the student can thrive, and that is what we all want!