Parents play a crucial role in helping their children learn to practice violin. The parent's role is arguably just as important as the teacher's role in the child's learning process. While the teacher only sees student one day a week, the the parent has the ability to oversee what goes on during the other six days.
Although this article is aimed at parents of beginning violin students, players of all levels will be able to glean information from this.
1. Parents should take detailed notes during the child's violin lesson. While it may be tempting to text, read, or zone out, it is important for the parent and child to be engaged during the lesson in order to have a better idea of how to practice violin during the week. Take notes on the materials covered during the lesson and write down aspects the child needs to focus on during practice. Bring a notebook to the violin lesson each week. A video camera or tape recorder would be valuable as well.
2. Don't be afraid to ask the teacher questions during the lesson or even during the week if necessary. For beginner students, much of the lesson time will be focused on posture, violin set-up, and bow hold. It may be helpful to spend time learning how to hold the violin and bow. That way you'll be able to help your child during practice.
3. Create structure in the child's practice schedule. Children wake up at the same time to go to school each day. And mealtimes are roughly the same time each day. Try to practice violin the same time every day. This gives the child the sense that "this is violin time."
4. Keep a practice notebook or violin practice chart. Record the number of days your child has practiced, how long, what materials you covered, and which areas need continued work. You can even offer your children rewards when they have practiced well.
5. Start each violin practice session with concrete goals. What do you and your child want to accomplish in this practice session and how long will it take? Practice goals can range from "remember to keep the pinky curved" to "be able to play this passage in tempo."
6. At the same time, don't be afraid to be flexible. While structure is important, don't be able to shift gears or to get creative. If one method isn't working, try another. For example, if "watermelon watermelon" isn't helping your child learn sixteenth notes, try another mnemonic device such as "peanut butter peanut butter."
7. Strike a balance between being kind, but firm. Overpraising children can cause them to overlook mistakes or to develop practice habits. On the other hand, being excessively strict and admonishing can cause a child to lose interest in practice or even in music as a whole.
Find a middle ground. Start with telling you child something positive such as "I love how you held a beautifully curved pinky throughout the whole song." Then make the correction. "It would be even better if you remember not to let your bow slide to the fingerboard."
If parents can find that balance between structure and flexibility, meticulous attention and positive reinforcement, then the process of violin practice will be productive and rewarding.