I know this is an old post but I just found your blog searching for Suzuki violin mom blogs. I was reading this post and heard all the same questions I constantly ask myself about how much to do for my 8yo talented violinist. It is really difficult balancing all the kids' activities, time, and resources. Just wondering, now, a couple years later, what your thoughts are?
This question has been bouncing around in my brain ever since.
It's been an up and down year as far as practicing has gone too. Abby's nine. She's good at it. She's full of pre-teen emotions, mood swings and unpredictability. I feel for her, I really do. I remember being that age vividly, crying at the drop of a hat for no reason, feeling like the whole world was against me, and no one was asking me to play incredibly advanced violin music! There were mornings that things went really well and we made a lot of progress, and there were mornings that weren't so great. To be perfectly honest, there were lots of mornings when I would stand on our middle floor, listening to Abby practicing scales upstairs and Ashlynn practicing piano downstairs, and think "I don't even like music. Why are we doing this?"
A lot of mornings we struggled to work together. Really, our story isn't unique. Abby likes the violin, but hates practicing every day, especially when there are so many more things she could be doing that are more interesting. She wants me to practice with her, and does much better when I can sit with her while she practices, but our busy household doesn't always allow for that. And then when I do sit with her, she gets annoyed with every suggestion I make, and then I get annoyed that she's not grateful that I'm there helping her. None of this is helped by the fact that practicing is supposed to start at 7 am and last for an hour and a half at which time she has to leave for school!
Much of the RMS music this year was incredibly difficult. Her teacher handed us a "West Side Story" medley that was composed specifically for her group, and I was incredulous. There was no way Abby was going to be able to learn that. Then her teacher said we had a month, and I thought her teacher was crazy. Turns out, we can do incredible things under pressure. In March, her teacher handed Abby the 1st violin part to another crazy hard piece. I looked at it and realized that I wouldn't have been able to play it without some diligent practicing. That time, we had three weeks to get it learned and memorized, and it nearly killed all of us.
There have been lots of tears this year, hers and mine. Lots of times where I asked myself if it was worth it. There were a few times where my husband and I wondered if we really should throw in the towel and let her quit. And I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when I resented it. Resented the time, the travel, the energy, the obscene amount of money, and all the times the entire family had to be rearranged to accomodate a rehearsal, a lesson, or a performance. Resented that we were making all these financial and time sacrifices and she didn't even seem to appreciate them. (In retrospect, she's nine years old! What did I expect her to do? Fall at my feet crying with gratitude?)
So why have we done it? Why have we gone to such great lengths? Is it worth it?
Yes. Despite the tears, the struggles, the fights, the yelling, and the wondering if she's ever going to hold her bow correctly.
I've watched Abby grow so much this year. She's turning into a sensitive, capapble musician. She's an incredible note reader, a great leader, and very confident in her skills. She's learned so much about taking a huge project and breaking it down into managable chunks. She has gained so much confidence.