How Parents Can Help Older Children

There are SO many things we can do to support our children’s violin playing.  Here are just some of them.  Do add more in the comments below if you think of others!

  1. Find somewhere where they can keep the violin and bow ready to play.  It needs to be out of it’s case and somewhere easily accessible so it’s as quick as possible to start playing it.  It needs to be safe of course so on a high shelf or hanging on the wall is ideal.  This can make an enormous difference to how much practise goes on believe me!
  2. Make clear practise notes.  If you are still making practise notes for your children make sure they can read them and that they are readily accessible for them when they are ready to practise, even if you are not there.  A clear list is ideal.  If you’re not still making notes during lessons you can still help them formulate a plan for their practise.
  3. Put lots of violin CDs/MP3’s on in the house/car/on their ipod’s etc.  They need to hear both the music they are learning and lots of other violin music of all types.  I have put playlists on spotify if you want ideas of violin music for them to listen to (My spotify name is “Lindsay Braga”).  It’s just so wonderful when you know they are soaking up the music and then you hear them suddenly announce “I want to play this piece”! They will also learn their pieces so much more easily if they have heard them dozens of times while they were eating their breakfast.  It’s an easy way to practise and it really, really works.  They also gain so much more from listening to fabulous violinsts than just the notes.  How do they know how they want their violin to sound if they don’t hear how beautiful it can sound and how do they know they “point” of playing the violin if their souls aren’t moved by listening to great quality music?
  4. Have a pencil with rubber tied to the stand or on the stand.
  5. Video or record pieces or even whole practise sessions.   They always rise to the occasion and do their best and it is VERY useful for them to watch the video back.  They learn so much from seeing how they actually play rather than how they think they do!   I’m also always happy if pupils want to send videos to me mid-week too (I will send back comments if wanted).
  6. Check they know how to structure their practise (warm ups, scales, review of older pieces to keep fluency and get ready for performance and learning new pieces.  Practise small sections at a time.  Always do the “boxes” in a piece first etc)
  7. Check in with them during their practise at some point.  A comment like “I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with that tricky passage when I come back” or “I could hear you practising the …, how are you finding it?  Could you play it again to me?”
  8. Help them sort a plan for their practise at the beginning and come back to hear the end result.  This can really help them focus on what is to be done!
  9. Ask when they would be happy to play you a performance of something
  10. Offer constructive praise!  Very important but often neglected (she says as a parent!)  Coming in during the practise to say “You’re making a nice sound on that bit” or “It sounds better in tune now” or “I heard you practise that bit really carefully” etc is really encouraging.  There’s usually something to praise!
  11. Find out about performance opportunities at school or elsewhere and then strongly encourage (!!) participation.  Working towards things gives an important urgency to the practise!
  12. Support them playing in as many group opportunities as possible.  They get inspiration from others around them and often feel really proud of themselves for having such a skill.
  13. It suits many to find a regular time for practise when it just becomes the norm.  This of course comes from the parent to support and find this time.
  14. Ask if they want you to help with their practise or not.  If the child still wants your help do give it even if they don’t want it all the time!  There’s plenty of years ahead where they won’t want our help so we don’t need to force that independance.  Use the chance to help while you still can!
  15. Get equipment/rosin/music as soon as it’s needed.  It maximises progress in the lessons and also shows your child how important you think violin is.
  16. Chat to me whenever you like if you want to know more about their progress, how else you can help them etc and to tell me about practice lulls, performances coming up etc.  It’s such a help to me if we are a team: parent, teacher and pupil.    Ring me or email me anytime.