5 Fun and Easy Violin Practice Games
How to Avoid Music Practice Battles with Your Kids
Guest Post by McKenzie Clawson
Practicing sometimes feels like a dirty word. When I bring up the subject of practicing with my students they look away, shuffle their feet, and try to avoid the question. (Does this sound familiar?)
I’ve really only met a few students that didn’t try to avoid practicing.
I get it. I was that kid, too. Even though I loved playing the violin, I often hid from my mom when it was time to practice. No joke. I kept my library books underneath my bed for years so I could read while I hid. Sometimes I hid various books around the house so I could change my hiding spot. I read while sitting in a dry bathtub behind the shower curtain, up a tree, in closets, you name it. I’m sure my mom was grateful I at least wasn’t watching TV (since I couldn’t hide and watch TV at the same time.)
If you want practicing with your child to actually be…gasp…fun, try one of these violin practice games.
Ask your child to play their piece (or excerpt) three times; once terribly, once so-so, and once perfectly. They will actually be thinking about the details of tone, intonation, and posture while they laugh over their bad tone.
2. Scene Change
Play somewhere other than their typical practice spot. Try the bathroom, outside (in good weather), standing on a stool (if they have good balance), or sitting on the floor. This may seem overly simple, but it may be the change of pace they need.
3. Go to the Races
Put two toy race cars at a starting line. Let your child pick which car is theirs. When they play the tricky spot correctly, their car goes forward. When they mess up, your car goes forward. You can both celebrate when they (hopefully) win the race.
4. Roll of the Dice
Let your child roll the dice to see how many good repetitions they “get” to play. Some days that may mean they only have to play it once, but if they’re practicing every day they’ll get more repetitions another day.
5. The Marble Jar
Every day they practice happily they put a marble in the jar. Once the jar is filled, they get a prize. The prize can be anything from their favorite meal for dinner to a video game or toy they’ve been wanting. Choose the size of the jar according to the size of the prize, simple prize=smaller jar, better prize=bigger jar.
The most common reason I hear when parents want their child to quit their violin lessons is that it’s not worth the fight to practice. But you don’t have to choose between getting along with your child and music lessons. If you have a variety of violin practice games you can turn to, your child may even end up looking forward to practicing (or at least they won’t lock themselves in the bathroom.)
Do you have a favorite violin practice game? Or a funny story about practicing with your kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
McKenzie Clawson has taught students of all ages, from preschoolers to retirees, in her private studio and as adjunct faculty at Utah State University. Ms. Clawson has been influenced by all of her teachers, especially Rebecca McFaul of the Fry Street Quartet and her Suzuki Teacher Trainers, Cathy Lee and Allen Lieb. She lives in Logan, UT with her husband, Bradley Clawson, and their baby daughter.