Posted by: Calvin | November 10, 2007

Practice, Practice, Practice

Baseball Boy (8) has been playing the violin for almost 4 years.  He started when he was 4 1/2 years old (by his request) and is moving relatively slowly through the Suzuki repertoire.  In that time, however, he has developed skills that give him great potential to play the instrument very well.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect him to be a concert violinist.  My hope for him is that he develops a love for music and skills that he can use throughout his life for entertainment and relaxation.  If someday he decides that he would like to be a concert violinist or play the fiddle in a country band, then that is perfectly fine also.

When MoJo, now 6, was 5, I started taking him to the same wonderfully talented violin teacher.  He tried half-heartedly to play, but soon it was obvious that he was just not into it.  He stopped his lessons.  After about 5 months passed, he told me he wanted to play the violin again.  What a huge difference 5 months made in his focus and maturity.  He is now moving along relatively quickly and doing very well.  MoJo seems to have a great ear for the different notes and can associate them with the correct finger placement.  He is very pleased with himself and his accomplishments.

 This all sounds great . . . except that they need to practice to make progress!  For the last three months or so our other extracurricular activities filled up the calendar on almost every Monday through Friday evening.  By the time we get home, eat dinner, do homework and clean up for bed, they are too exhausted to play the violin.  I am not a morning person, so practicing in the morning is just not an option.  We were shamed into practicing some for a couple of those weeks.  On October 28 Ms. J’s studio had a recital at which they both had to play a solo while Ms. J played harmony before 40-50 people.  (If you do not know your piece cold, hearing the harmony can really mess you up.)  I was able to get them to practice for the recital as a result of the fear that they would embarrass themselves.  Both did well, but Baseball Boy really amazed me with the poise and skill with which he played his more difficult piece.  He really rose to the occasion.  I was very proud. 

Now that the violin recital is over, getting the boys to practice is back to being a little slice of hell.  I have tried various reward schemes, practice games and begging styles.  After nearly 4 years, they have heard and seen everything in my current bag of tricks.  We have a break between fall baseball, which ends Friday of next week, and pring baseball which starts in late January.  That gives me a week to come up with a new bag of tricks.  After Friday, it is time to practice, practice, practice . . .



  1. I pick my battles – we had Chip play guitar for a while but he refused to practice and I refused to pay for lessons if he wasn’t practicing. But if it’s something you don’t want to give up for them — I have no clue how to make them practice.

    and if I did have a clue — I’d sell it and make a mint.

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