So long, Suzuki

I just broke up with our latest violin teacher.

That makes 3 teachers in the last year.  Three.  I feel like “that crazy mom.”

I should have a form letter at the ready by now.  “Dear (teacher name), We’ve decided not to continue lessons.”

It’s insane.  Truly, I feel the insanity of it.

Uncle.  I give up.

A year ago, we had been with a teacher for about a year and a half.  But although she had been taught with Suzuki method herself, she had no teacher training or degree.  She was only qualified to teach to a certain point, and she knew that and was very open about it.  The girls liked her, though, and things were going fine on their end.  But I was beginning to notice some missing things, realizing that we might be reaching the end of her teaching ability.

I started scouting around for a new teacher and found someone with a doctorate in violin performance.  Not a Suzuki teacher, but certainly qualified to teach students at my girls’ levels.

So I broke the news to Teacher 1 (who was completely understanding) and we started with Teacher 2 in January.  From the very start, the girls rebelled.  They didn’t like him, didn’t like his style, wanted to quit.  I wasn’t thrilled with his style, either, and was disappointed to find that he was actually anti-Suzuki method.  He was pretty intense, and though the girls did win their respective divisions in a local competition in the spring, they still complained constantly about taking lessons from him.  I asked him repeatedly to ease up, maybe do some fun fiddle music?  He would say he understood and he agreed with me, but nothing changed – with his teaching or with the girls’ opinions.

So I emailed him last summer and said we’d be taking a break from lessons for awhile.  Y’all – parenting decisions are hard.  I had pushed and threatened and bribed and cajoled and done everything I could think of to motivate my girls through what I called a dry spell.  I told myself that they just lacked motivation right now; happens to everyone.  It’s my job to push them through it.

They went back to homeschool “band” (string ensembles) in the fall, but because Abby made it into the top group, I was worried that she needed a teacher to stay on top of the music.  I searched and searched for a teacher and finally found a Suzuki teacher who had just moved to the area.

Well, sort of to the area. Close to the area.  Somewhat close.  Actually, 50 minutes from my house, one way.  But she was an actual Suzuki instructor! With loads of experience! And a degree!  I was sure this would be the answer.  Motivation would soar and my little violinists would thrive once again.

We had two lessons.  I think she’s a great teacher.  But the girls continue to fuss, and honestly, I just can’t keep fighting.  And driving 50 minutes – one way – for two hours of lessons your children don’t want to take is…well, probably not the best use of your time or money.  You know how as parents, we have to choose our battles?  I’ve made this battle a priority for a year and I finally have to let it go.  It breaks my heart.  They are such good players.  I have so, so enjoyed hearing them play, watching them learn, making music with each other, with me.  I hope they will take it up again in the future.

For now, they will finish the year with homeschool band, because we made a commitment for the year and we will honor that commitment.  (And I’m on the parent board.)

Abby has been taking guitar lessons for a few months and seems to be doing really well.  She’s all in for guitar.  She plays – sometimes multiple times per day – without me even asking her to.

I’ve been giving all 3 of them sporadic piano lessons, but I’m going to work on making that more consistent.  We’ll still have music, but it looks like the season of violin is fading.

About waymel

Navy wife. Homeschooling mom. Adoptive parent. Pianist. Introvert. One who loves quiet and beauty.
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2 Responses to So long, Suzuki

  1. Rebecca says:

    Parenting decisions like this are just so, so hard, I totally agree. But the lessons they have taken will not be wasted no matter what. They may take up their violins again in the future, and the knowledge they’ve gained will transfer to their other instruments, of course. I hope for now, though, that you all just feel relieved.

  2. redkeeney says:

    That is a long way to drive for lessons they don’t want to take! I remember being that kid though, and being done taking guitar…. and then look at me now. I agree with Becca; the lessons aren’t wasted and they could very well take it up again on their own in the future.

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