I’m a violin mom. I’ve moved from straight-up Suzuki violin mom to just being a violin mom now that BabyGirl is in the local youth symphony. And I have to tell you that being a violin mom is nothing like being a [insert your kid’s sport/dance/cheer here] mom.
BabyGirl got her first violin when she was about 3 years old. Over the following 18 or so months while we worked with a teacher, I was the one who did lessons with her on a daily basis. Yes, every day. Every achievement was a big one. She was 3, after all!
People say that it’s not easy to play a sport, learn to dance, take a martial arts class, or be a cheerleader. I’m pretty sure it’s not. But very few parents actually teach these things to their kids. We take our kids to a class once a week, maybe more, and pray the teacher never tells us to stop coming to lessons. Maybe the kids will do some practice at home. More likely they don’t. So, to get better we sign them up for more classes. That’s how that system works. Of course, if you’re good at what your kid is taking then maybe you’ll work with them at home.
Committing to the Suzuki method is more about the parent, especially with very young children. One 30-minute lesson a week does not make your kid the next Joshua Bell or Itzhak Perlman. It’s up to you to practice with your child. And by practice I mean try not to make your child cry because you’re asking them to do the same thing over and over again. Why they’ll do it for their teacher but not you, no one knows. It’s just kid emotions.
So, there I was, day after day. Time to practice violin. Bow hold, violin hold, feet apart, open A. One thing at a time. Over and over again. Until there was mastery. Some times that came quickly. Other times, I’d lose count somewhere in the hundreds. But she was usually a trouper.
Here we are 8 years and many pieces later. For many recitals I sat there watching the other kids move on and up. Me? I was the mom with the little girl learning Twinkle. She was adorable! (not that she isn’t now, but tell me that a 4-year-old playing violin isn’t and I’ll argue with you) And she was so thrilled to get up in front of the group and play her “piece”.
Dr. Suzuki said that to master something you needed to do it ten thousand times. Ten thousand! Not one thousand. Not a bunch. Ten. Thou. Sand! And while I lost track long before we ever got there, it didn’t really matter. She was doing it. Not because of me but because she knew she’d get it and one day she’d be like the big kids.
Today she holds her own with kids much older. I’m still part of her lessons but not as involved in her practice. She passed me mid-way through the first book. Eighteen months for Twinkle, but less than six for the next 14 pieces. I greatly underestimated her drive.
There are no blinged-out shirts for the violin mom. There’s no game to scream at. There are no color-coordinated outfits, unless an unflattering long black dress is what you mean. No cute bows, sparkles, or makeup. Well, for the most part on that last one. For her recitals she does get a new dress and Aunt Zoni does her hair.
But, like all the sports/dance/cheer moms out there, I gladly drive BabyGirl to her lessons or site and wait hours while she rehearses. I’m the first one to buy a block of tickets to her recital and pass them out to friends. And when she gets up to perform, I’m the one holding my breath. Because for those few minutes everything she’s practiced for is happening in that moment. And she’ll nail it.
There will never be a reality show about violin moms. We’re just not that interesting. And, well, neither are our kids’ teachers. That’s not to say there is no drama or yelling or tears. But, we just can’t compete with the sports, dance, and cheer moms. And I’m OK with that.