My daughter won’t practise her violin any more…

Q. My daughter is 12 and has been playing the violin for over 3 years. She appears to enjoy the concerts and orchestra events she is involved in and has done reasonably well in her grade exams, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to persuade her to practise. I realise she has other claims on her time now, but I think she will really regret it if she gives up at this stage.

A. This is such a common problem for young musicians as they understandably lose heart when they try hard to take their playing to a new, higher level from that of a beginner. Unnecessary, excess pressure from parents at this stage could prove counter-productive in the long-term.

Whilst musically you may feel that your daughter is at a temporary standstill, please don’t underestimate the important enrichment your daughter is experiencing whilst playing in orchestras and in concerts. Playing in ensembles and orchestras offers a young musician the opportunity to develop those much needed life skills such as social interaction, communication and teamwork. Like playing in sports teams, playing in orchestras and singing in choirs offer numerous opportunities to cultivate new friendships at university and in our working lives. Playing regularly in an orchestra will at least ensure your daughter’s on-going musical and technical progress.

It is also important that your daughter’s violin repertoire is not constantly exam driven. Ask your daughter’s teacher to introduce a more varied repertoire including lighter, contemporary music. There is a plethora of repertoire published and readily available, including some with backing-tracks on CD. Even though this might not be for the purist, such repertoire provides hours of playing pleasure for the young instrumentalist!

There is so much evidence to support the fact that the discipline of learning to play an instrument encourages greater levels of concentration and learning in all other aspects of children’s academic lives. It is also important to remember that playing a musical instrument helps to provide a breadth of experience and is another avenue for our daughters to achieve success and grow in self-confidence. So, off with the excess pressure, applaud loudly at your daughter’s concerts and enjoy her orchestral playing, find some fun repertoire and celebrate your daughter’s success as a player at every opportunity!

Alun Jones, Principal
St Gabriel’s 

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