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Rarely a week goes by that I’m not asked one of the following questions by at least one parent in my violin
studio: “Why does that child play so much better than my child?” Before I have a chance to inhale, the
parent shrugs her shoulders and offers her own explanation, saying, “That child must just have natural
talent and my child doesn’t. It must just run in their family. My child will never be that good.”
Each time I am asked these questions, and hear these types of explanations offered, what I wish I could tell
the parent is the following:
There are several reasons why one child may progress quicker than another. Most often, it has nothing to
do with natural ability and genetics and everything to do with the things that set these children and parents
apart from the crowd.

1) Consistent daily practice. This seems so simple and obvious. Even so, most parents allow their
child to miss one or two days of practice per week. The students who truly practice seven days per
week progresses faster.

2) Reasonable amount of daily practice time. Students who progress quickly do put in the time that is
required to be successful! Young students (age 3-5) do well with 30 minutes per day, often in
divided sessions of 15 minutes each. Students ages 6-8 are often able to do 45-60 minutes per day
in total. The amount of time increases as a child gets older. Two sessions per day, with at least 6
hours in between the 2 practice sessions is ideal. Practicing does not have to be done all in one
session. Taking breaks is a good idea.

3) Quality of practice time. Students who keep a daily log of what they are practicing and make sure
that their practicing is organized progress quickly. These students are clear as to what their
assignment is, and their music is organized and stored in the same place after each practice
session, so that they know where it is for the next session. They often start with scales, and then
play etudes (technical studies), and then play their pieces after the technical work has been
covered. These students have specific goals in mind with respect to what they want to accomplish
during each practice session. They remain focused, and do not allow themselves to be distracted
by TV, phone calls, and other things that may be going on in the house. The practice environment
is conducive to self-teaching. A favorable location is a quiet place in the home with good lighting.
A metronome, sharp pencils for writing in fingerings and bowings, and a tape recorder are all
readily available.

4) Parental involvement/supervision of practice sessions. Students whose parents are involved in
some way in each practice session tend to progress quickly. The younger the child is, the more
involvement there needs to be. Young children must have a parent present and practicing with the
child for the entire practice session. Older children who progress quickly are usually supervised by
a parent, or at least play for the parent for at least part of the practice session. Parents who
accompany their child on the piano notice that their child’s intonation (playing in tune) improves
quickly. Parents of students who progress quickly often attend all or part of the child’s lesson each
week in order to understand more about what the teacher is instructing the child to do. These
parents are patient and supportive at times when the student is having a difficult time with a given

5) Attendance at weekly lessons and studio/recital classes. Students who progress quickly rarely miss
a lesson, and if they must miss a lesson for any reason, they request to make that lesson up as soon
as possible. These students also attend all or almost all of the studio classes and recital classes that
are offered in the studio. Their parents recognize that the more opportunities that their child has to
perform, the better performer he/she will become. Each recital class provides incentive and
motivation to practice, so students who participate in recital classes whenever possible tend to
progress quickly.

6) Children of parents who offer praise and positive encouragement on a daily basis tend to progress
quickly. Their parents attend every recital class, and are very complimentary and supportive after
every performance, and let them know that they are very proud of their accomplishments.


If you have further questions concerning this topic, or would like to explore the possibility of having your
child begin violin lessons/ attend a monthly recital class, please call 248-865-3060 or e-mail Sharon
Rothstein at

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