August 25, 2009

Scrambled Violin

Our son has the opportunity this fall to pursue his violin training with a top-notch teacher.  Her standards are high and her 'tuition' is too.  Knowing my son as I do I was on the fence about what to do here.  Clearly he needs a teacher, but does it need to be the one that requires group, individual, and chamber lessons?  Solo recitals and something called a 'movement class' are also involved.  And did I mention there is no parking on her grass?  Well-there isn't.... It's a rule I can understand as I hate it when strangers park on my grass.  This just sets a standard of excellence though don't you think? Not sure I really want to know what the movement class is.  Maybe we could enroll the two year old in that class.  Although she did get a couple red stars on her potty chart for her movements as of late.  Perhaps a class isn't in order for her after all.

The policy on her website clearly states that if the student isn't practicing enough that she may have the option to drop said student.  Without refund! Ouch.  Big Boy is an excellent musician who has been at the violin for 6 years.  He has unfortunately been the victim of moving around and having various teachers.  Some suited him.  Some not so much.  This one appears to be a match.  After a week of scales camp he was still coming out smiling.  And I gotta say I never knew one could play that high on one's violin.  Lot's of difficulty.  Still smiling.  Sorta a miracle. I fear that after we sign him up that the honeymoon will end and he will not commit as much as we'd hoped.  But then there's the other side to that egg.  The sunny side!  That hopes against all odds that he will reach and exceed expectations.  And what to do with Little Boy who is just one year in?  Do we go for the good teacher right from the start with him and kick all the bad habits early?  (Those habits that Big Boy still clings to).  Or do we wait and see if he is a violinist after all before shelling out the big bucks?  It seems that the decisions made now will make the ones in the future as well.

T and I discussed it in bed the other night.  He told me the story of the day he went to a friend's house and was shown for the first time in his life how to scramble an egg.  Step one: Warm up the pan.  Step two: Spray the pan.  Step three: Crack egg directly onto the pan and scramble away while cooking.  Over a decade later he would learn the real way to cook scrambled eggs.  From me.  With actual pre-scrambling in a bowl, grated cheddar, constant spatula use, and dill.  (Yes dill- try it!).  So his point was that there is a right way and a getting by way of doing just   about all things in life.  Which way do you think we should go?


Melody said...

Okay, I had to go to her website, and my oh my, that is a lot of cash. And here I was feeling sorry for myself about $40/month ballet lessons.

What does your son think? Does he want to commit? Or is he "meh" about the whole thing? Because if you're going to be financially penalized if he doesn't practice, he has to be in it to win it. (And he should probably be the one paying the non-refundable difference, you know?)

Kelly said...

Yes- Shocking isn't it? He is concerned about us spending that kind of money. He has always been a money worrier. My husband says we should cut our cable and use the cash in a more substantial place.

Big Boy wants to do it and says he's ready to start taking his music more seriously. I am worried it will fade. sigh!

CSIowa said...

If he's willing, go for it. T is right about technique. Getting it right early means you're set up to learn shifting, vibrato and other advanced technique more easily later. Kids really are happier about their music when they are able to make a high quality sound, which comes from having a demanding teacher, who is also a wonderful person and a good personality match for the student, hopefully. This is particularly important for strings. Even if your son's interest fades, I bet he can stick with it through the year. Take it one year at a time.

If you are up for the time commitment, group experiences are also highly motivating. And don't mock the movement. It's pretty cool stuff that really does contribute to overall musicianship. Generally, that kind of class is really fun, also very motivating to kids' personal investment in music.

If you decide to do it, I have one suggestion just for you: budget the money and then NEVER THINK ABOUT IT again for the rest of the year. You can allow yourself another heart attack next fall, but there's no need to put yourself through that every month.

If you decide not to do it, you're still a great mom! Not everything that could be done should be done, and the transportation issues for even one child in all those activities are not insignificant, not to mention practicing. It's worth the money, but can the family manage the time commitment?

Good luck with the decision!

Kelly said...

Yes I agree that although the cost is shocking. The time commitment was one of the biggest concerns. I think we are going forward, but with hesitation.

One thing that helped was that the chamber and group lessons are seasonal and don't happen at the same time. Whew~

Tracy Purdy said...

I think little boy should just do school orchestra until HE decides HE wants to stick it out, then mortgage the house to pay for the lessons after that. Our bass tuition for two girls due in one week...ARGH!!!

literaqueen said...

Wow-- kicked out of lessons (potentially) for not practicing? I would have been booted out of piano lessons almost immediately (my piano teacher wisely let me practice my sight reading skills). If Big Boy is committed, this would be a great step for him. Little Boy-- wait until he is a little more committed to the instrument.

And someday when they're doing concerts like Joshua Bell, thank that teacher. And yourselves for sticking it out with them.