Guest Post by Alison Porter.
If you’re a new Suzuki parent like me, you might have found that practicing daily with your 3-yr-old can be a challenge somedays. Okay most days. So I’ve put together a handy list of some of the best tricks I’ve got up my sleeve for practicing violin with a 3-yr-old. Like a boss.
1. Fart Jokes. Put them in wherever you can to keep the mood light. Make up new words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that involve stinky toots. I recently learned the ASL sign for “fart” just to up my game in this department. My daughter thinks it’s hilarious.
2. Gummie Bears. Line them up in full view, give them silly names and/or character voices. They can ask for a practice task to be done and when the child has completed it the gummy bear leaps to its death…into your child’s mouth.
3. Wine. For you, not the child. Helps with the aforementioned character voices. Not recommended for early morning practice sessions.
4. Pawn off the practice session. Have an extended family member visiting? Babysitter coming over? Bingo! Your work is done. Sit back, relaaaax, you got this.
5. Bribery. For you, not the child. Every time you facilitate a successful practice session without losing patience, put a sticker on your calendar. Once you get to 100 stickers you get a treat!
6. Puppets. My daughter talks to puppets like they are real people even though she can plainly see that I’m talking. She will patiently teach a puppet all her violin skills, sometimes more than once. I cannot believe that she doesn’t know I’m tricking her into practicing. What a dummy.
7. Haiku Poetry. Read this before a practice session to get you into a fuzzy, philosophical frame of mind so that you won’t get flustered by your child’s short attention span and lack of respect for time as we know it. This works especially well when paired with wine.
8. Hire a maid and order take-out often. The practicalities of life can make you even more easily distracted than your young violinist. You are a violin parent now – FOCUS.
9. “Forget” how to count. Tell your child they are doing 4 repetitions then capitalize on their bad math and the fact that they are busy trying to make sounds out of instrument that is extremely hard to learn and…. voila, they’ve done way more than 4 reps without an argument.
10. Always end practice on a high note. After a glass of wine or two, you might be tempted to let that farting puppet with the questionable Russian accent start to run off at the mouth. This trajectory, if left unchecked, could go sideways fast, ending with you either sobbing or spilling gory details about how your high-school music teacher thwarted your chance at musical stardom. Put down the puppet and walk away slowly. If the violin is still in one piece and your child is still smiling, then everybody wins. And you my friend, get a sticker.
Alison is the director of Lovenotes School of Music, an early-childhood music school that believes that everyone is born musical. She is also a professional musician, and a proud mama of a budding 3-yr-old violinist. For more helpful information about practicing with your preschooler, check out her blog.
Image Credit: Dai Haruki
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