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The amazing overconfidence of my reluctant violin student

by Traci Schumacher on Thu, 08/22/2013 - 4:48pm

My 7-year-old son has a love-hate relationship with the violin. He has been taking lessons for two years now and there are clearly times when he loves playing. Just as there are clearly times when he hates practicing.

I think what my son hates most about practicing is that he is expected to do it a certain way, the “right” way. There is a correct way to hold the bow, to hold the violin, to move the bow, to place the fingers, and so on.

But he would much rather lounge on the sofa with his instrument, playing in a sloppy way and just having fun making sounds. Or play a song as fast as he can rather than think about its musicality. I love to see him having fun with his violin, but I also know he will not progress much without practicing proper form.

So the other day I turned on PBS and found an orchestra performance in progress. I noticed my son was drawn in to watch, sinking down in the cozy chair closest to the tv. After a few minutes he said, “I'm pretty sure I can play better than that.”

It was all I could do to keep from laughing. I told him I was sure, if he practiced a lot, he could play like that one day. It's great to have confidence, but it's even better when that confidence is grounded in a bit of reality.

My boy is certainly not short on self-confidence. Though I may need to record his violin playing, and play it back for him to critique. Then let him see if he can play better than that.

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