Practicing tips for non-musical parents

Less than 24 hours after our oldest child, Isobel, was born, my wife and I were walking out of the hospital with her. As we were buckling her into the car seat, I remember wondering how it was possible that the care of this child was being entrusted to 2 amateurs? Certainly someone was going to test us on the basics before we were allowed to leave.

As a teacher, I wonder if violin lessons create a similar anxiety in non-musical parents. As the first lesson is wrapping up and the parent is helping their child put away the tiny violin, the thought may occur to them that, even though they don’t know anything about music, they are responsible for the next step in their child’s music education.

My advice, at that point, is very practical.

Step 1, establish a routine.

Step 2, have a BTN (better-than-nothing) practice in your back pocket for emergencies.

Step 3, replicate the lesson. Wait..what?

Were it possible, I’d give my students lessons everyday. But that is not practical (nor affordable), so parents need to try to emulate the work we did during the lesson.

From the time my own children started lessons, this was always the part of music education that I thought left non-musical parents at a distinct disadvantage. (That disadvantage struck me as so profound that it motivated me to build learning tools for my students that eventually became FiddleQuest.)

To assist their child, a few parents have chosen to learn the violin alongside their child. It is, by far, the most effective way for non-musical parents to help children learn.

But for parents who do not want to play the violin, if you learn nothing else during your child’s first few lessons, learn how to hold and move the bow. That important first step will give you enough to allow you to assist your child throughout the entire first level — the most important time for your involvement.

Throughout the lesson, imagine what it might be like to assist at home without the teacher there. If you are not sure how that looks, than ask questions. If a parent shows interest, I will give them them all the tools and training required to assist their child at home.

Use lesson time to get enough training from the teacher to help your child at home. In the early stages, learning goes much better when parents and teachers work closely together. It won’t stay this way for long, but the need for your involvement is highest at the beginning.