Don’t want to be Tiger Mum over vi­o­lin

The Advertiser - - LETTERS -

10-year-old daugh­ter has been learn­ing vi­o­lin for two years. Her mu­sic exam re­sult last year sug­gested she had the po­ten­tial to do well, and she wanted to con­tinue, so we bought a de­cent vi­o­lin.

This year, how­ever, I had to push her to prac­tise and she says she doesn’t want to do it any longer. My hus­band says she should see out this year’s lessons, be­cause she com­mit­ted to them. One friend says we need to keep her at it a bit longer, un­til she be­gins to see the ben­e­fits and starts en­joy­ing it more. Other friends say I should cut my losses be­cause it’s a never-end­ing bat­tle.

I don’t want to be a tiger mother, but I don’t want her to waste her po­ten­tial ei­ther. What should I do?

It is rel­a­tively com­mon for chil­dren to lose in­ter­est in prac­tis­ing mu­sic. The un­der­ly­ing rea­sons may in­clude find­ing the next level dif­fi­cult, or is­sues with the teacher. Have a gen­tle con­ver­sa­tion with your daugh­ter to find out more.

Con­sider ask­ing the teacher for sug­ges­tions on how to mo­ti­vate your child. Tenyear-olds are gen­er­ally re­cep­tive to re­wards. In re­turn for com­mit­ting to vi­o­lin prac­tise for the rest of the year, per­haps she could se­lect a dif­fer­ent in­stru­ment to study next year? The vi­o­lin could be sold to con­trib­ute to the hire or pur­chase of a new in­stru­ment.

Small and reg­u­lar re­wards might also be well re­ceived, such as a favourite evening meal. Al­ter­na­tively, your daugh­ter could keep a record of the num­ber of prac­tises un­der­taken us­ing a star chart on the fridge and when the de­sired amount is reached at the end of the term, at­tend­ing a movie with the fam­ily could be the re­ward.

The learn­ing of a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment should be joy­ous, and it is a bonus if older fam­ily mem­bers can ac­tively par­tic­i­pate. A child go­ing to her room away from fam­ily ac­tiv­ity can be ex­pe­ri­enced as a neg­a­tive. Sit down with your daugh­ter so she can show you what she has learned. If ei­ther par­ent has an in­ter­est in learn­ing the same in­stru­ment that their child is learn­ing that could be a great joint ac­tiv­ity. In­ter­est­ingly, when chil­dren grow up they have been known to say to par­ents “I wish you had made me stick to learn­ing mu­sic…”. The panel urges you to be cre­ative and con­tinue to en­cour­age your daugh­ter with her mu­sic tu­ition.

It is of course im­por­tant to check that your child is feel­ing safe in the pres­ence of any peo­ple they are hav­ing un­su­per­vised con­tact with, and teach­ing her pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours.

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