Help With Violin Lessons for 6yr Old.

So my daughter has decided she wants to play the violin. So she wants a violin and lessons.

I’m all for this, as I’ve been encouraging music in her for years. She already took a ‘kids music’ course and a fun singing class.

Anyway, is 6 a decent age to begin violin lessons? I assume so, since there seem to be a lot of courses around.

Anything special I should know? Is the Suzuki method the preferred teaching method for young children?

I originally wanted her to learn the Piano, as I think it probably gives you the best musical foundation, but I also know enough to know that if the kid finds an interest in another instrument, don’t squash it.

So, any other hints about violin lessons? Recommendations for a student violin?

Be sure to make it fun for her. This was my mother’s downfall. I ended up only practicing alone before school, and I wasn’t put in a junior orchestra or anything, so with it being “uncool”, and not having a real reason to learn, and being immature (and I was 13, not 6), it slipped away. Make sure she has encouragement from kids her age, and a target to shoot at, like performances with other kids, and the exciting trips that can go along with them.

Get recommendations for a good teacher, and get to know him/her. Make sure there’s chemistry between your kid and the teacher.

When I went to my friends’ violin and viola lessons, I was struck by how friendly everyone was. My friends got along with the teacher well (they had the same one) and the teacher knew their parents and got along with them well. It was nice to see and I’m sure it made the whole experience more enriching.

Hooray Hooray, Sam! It always delights me to hear about kids’ interest in music, and even moreso to hear about parents who support it!

Have you already leased a violin? A lot of the music stores have teachers linked to them, some even offer lessons on-site. Which can be nice, as you can overhear other lessons taking place while you wait for yours - sort of normalizes the experience. Some teachers have little recitals in the spring, too.

Your daughter will probably start off with a 1/4 size violin, and will likely be taught using the Suzuki music books if not their methodology. I’m not a music educator so I don’t know what’s “in”. Speaking from my ignorance, my opinion is it doesn’t really matter. A 6-yr-old is going to make awful squeaking and squawking noises for quite some time no matter what you do - but if they can love it, they’ll get where they’re going and it won’t matter.

I started playing the violin when I was 8, having talked the music teacher into letting me start during summer school (no idea where I got this notion). So in 3rd grade I was allowed to play with the 5th or 6th grade orchestra (not sure which). And while I’m sure we sounded dreadful, all I remember is the wonderful buzz I used to get from rehearsal - literally floating down the hallway of my little elementary school, thrilled beyond words with the whole notes I’d been chugging through.

I wish your daughter many thrilling experiences!

My daughter takes violin–she’s six, but started when she was four. She was so interested in music that I felt she’d enjoy it. She has, pretty much–she’s wary of anything that seems like work, so sometimes convincing her that something isn’t actually going to be that hard can be a little rough. Once she gets past that, though, it’s smooth sailing.

Her teacher uses the Suzuki method–mostly. She departs from it where she thinks it might be best. She was recommended to me by my daughter’s montessori teacher. You might want to talk to different teachers, and see how they strike you, maybe ask your daughter’s regular teacher if she knows anyone. Where are you? I’d recommend my daughter’s teacher, but I imagine you aren’t in St. Louis.

Six is a fine age to get started, and I hope she really enjoys it. Playing music, especially with other people as other posters have mentioned, is just so much fun. Good luck!

My parents started me with violin when I was four (I was heavily influenced by my older sister, who also played). Used the Suzuki books for quite a while: not neccessarily the method, but the books are good ‘anthologies’ of music.

Patience, patience, patience. I drove my parents crazy for about the first year. Beginning violinsts = lots of ugly noises.

Try and find a teacher who does one-on-one lessons primarily, but also does group teaching. It’s a lot more fun if it’s a social situation (not just for little kids, btw. Orchestra has never fit in my HS schedule, I miss it horribly). If your child has friends who they see when they go to play, it’ll encourage them to practice more (gotta impress them, of course) and to keep with it when its tough.

Oh, and don’t spend much on the violin. My mom also plays, and got into the idea of my playing so much that she spent for an actually good instrument for me, at 1/2 size. It’s essentially unsellable, because the cheap Korean student models have flooded the market, and the number of people who want a performance piece for their pre-teen is veeery small.

I think we already sold my half-size violin from when I was six and playing…a shame, that was a really incredible instrument. Had such a lovely sound…sigh…:slight_smile:

Violin’s a great deal of fun. I enjoyed it…I started when I was four or five, I think. My teacher used the Suzuki method – I think I went once or twice a week to a one-on-one lesson and once or twice a week to a group lesson.

I really wish I’d kept up with it. :frowning:

Thanks for the advice, guys. How much is ‘not much’ for a 1/2 or 1/4 size violin? Are we talking about under $100?

I don’t mind spending whatever I should to make her experience the best possible, but I also don’t want to spend more than would be reasonably useful for her.

I second what NinjaChick said about the ugly noises. Sort of like a cat screaming as it gets run over by a Mac truck…over and over and over again.

I’ve had kids learning flute, clarinet AND violin and the violin in the hands of the 7 year old was the absolute worst of the lot.

Buy industrial strength ear plugs dude. You’ll need them.


A 7-year old just learning doesn’t need anything more than a shaped wooden box with strings. She’ll outgrow the size before she has any idea of real tone, and it will be years before she’s doing more than hitting the proper fingering and scraping at the right time. I honestly would just ask if it’s likely to break.

We pay a couple hundred (like $150-175) in rental a year. Buying isn’t a good idea for small sized instruments unless you’ve got more kids growing up who’ll use it.

The quality of instrument is, imho, more important than Cardinal states. For one thing, if your daughter has a good ear, she’ll know the difference between a good sound and a bad one. While she’ll mostly make bad ones to begin with, she ought to be rewarded for good ones. And you’ll be surprised how quickly she’ll start making good sounds–my daughter has a very good ear, and works very hard to make sure she’s on pitch, etc. While she doesn’t sound like Isaac Stern, I’d hardly describe her playing as painful to listen to, and she’s only six. For Pete’s sake, she wants to play violin because she wants to play music and have it sound nice–give her a chance to do that, or she’ll lose sight of the whole point of playing.

And playing now, she’s developing habits that will make her a better player down the line–the quality of instrument she’s playing now will have an effect on the habits she’s forming now. Don’t buy or rent an instrument until after you’ve chosen a teacher and spoken with him/her about what he/she prefers the kids work with. Rent! Or ask if the shop has a buyback program–some do, where you buy the smaller instrument, and you’re able to sell it back to the shop for a guaranteed amount and apply it to the next size up. Depending on the price of rentals, etc., that may be a good option.

Don’t buy the cheapie violins off ebay for $100. We tried it, the guy sent the wrong size and then disappeared off the face of the earth.

beautiful sound in the world, encourage, but don’t push. Put up with, or they will go to the Dark Side. Vassar Clements was my hero, until he went electric.

I started violin lessons when I was 6. For the most part, I liked them, and for my age, I was pretty good at it.

Just, yeah, make sure it keeps being a fun thing, but don’t be discouraged if your daughter doesn’t want to keep it up at some point. I threw tantrums when I didn’t feel like going a few times, but it was ultimately a good experience for me.

Here’s another question - all else being equal, what is the best instrument for a kid to learn?

I’m still not sure how serious she is about violin. She decided she wanted to play it because she loves the strings in Warren Zevon’s “Desperados Under the Eaves” - her favorite song (the kid has great taste). But she still may change her mind.

I’m still thinking that if she wants to, piano would be a better choice for her. It seems to me that it’s easier to get to the point where you can make music you enjoy. You have to have a certain amount of skill just to get a good tone out of a violin. But a piano you can learn to bang out tunes almost immediately. For a kid with a low attention span, this seems ideal.

Any thoughts on the perfect instrument for a kid?

I mean that a seven year old is going to take a while to even get the pitch and bow pressure and timing right. What if she hits a growth spurt, or decides she really hates it? Better not to have to try to sell back something over the top.

Right, Cardinal, that’s why you rent instead of buy–trade it back in for a larger size if there’s a growth spurt (we’ve had a few of those) or, if you’re done, just hand it back and get a refund on the part of the year’s rental you didn’t use. End of problem. And I’ve heard the other kids who take lessons from my daughter’s teacher–you’d be surprised how quickly they start getting those things right, especially when they’re enthusiastic about the instrument.

Sam, this is just my personal opinion, but all things being equal, the best instrument for a kid to learn is the one she wants to learn. I’m all for piano lessons, myself, for the reasons you mention and also a keyboard helps if kiddo decides she wants to explore things like music theory. But really, she’ll sound okay sooner than you think, if she really decides she wants to play violin. But if she really would prefer piano, then that’s better. Or if she’d really prefer guitar…or bagpipes…or whatever. Of course, there aren’t many teachers who’ll give a six year old bagpipe lessons, but you know what I mean.

I’d say, if she wants to and you can afford it, find a teacher for a year, rent an instrument, and at the end of the year see how she still feels about it. Talk to her about it first, so she knows the deal–that at the end of the trial period (of whatever instrument), she can quit or switch instruments if she wants to. That way she gets to really see what it’s like and if she wants to keep going. If she does find that she enjoys violin, I think you’ll be very pleasantly suprised and very proud of her when you hear what she can do. Ditto for piano…the important thing is, it’s the instrument she wants to play.

Yeah! I don’t think playing one negates playing another. I’ve played violin, cello, piano and percussion. Tried the flute but found that wind instruments don’t work for me.

And athene1765 - Start up again! About 3 years ago I leased myself a grown-up violin (money paid towards leasing apply towards purchase) and found a teacher and started up in Suzuki Book 1. It was tough for a while 'cause the little rugrats taking lessons before me were already in Suzuki Book 2. But after about 9 months I got a little better and joined a community orchestra & I’m having the time of my life with it! I sit waaaay in the back of the 2nds & mostly try not to play during the pauses :slight_smile: but there’s pieces that I really can play with the group & it’s a total blast! This past summer we went to England to play! Right now we’re working on The Planets and you know those triplets are doable! Give it a go, you won’t regret it!

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not trying to override her desire. For sure, if she wants to play violin, then that’s what she’ll play.

I was speaking more theoretically - all things being equal, is the piano a better learning instrument? Because she’s at an age right now where often what she ‘desires’ is just what she thought of on that day. In a week, she may decide on something else.

So if she truly doesn’t have a preference, should I steer her towards piano? That’s the question.

FWIW, we already got her music teacher at school to give us the names of some local violin teachers, and we’re making arrangements to go and rent her an instrument soon.

Is there any chance you know, say, a responsible high school student who would be willing to give lessons?

My only concern would be that with the private teachers that I’ve had, practicing and improvement was required. My guess would be even the most dedicated 6 year old isn’t going to be very consistant in their dedication. (Although I guess it’s worked for me for 10 years now:D)

If you were able to score a responsible high school student, they would be well prepared to teach your little girl, and more likely in a more laid back scenerio. (Not to mention cheper for you.:))

Easy…rent until she is able to get into a full size insturment. And if you have a lessons teacher, have them come with you to help pick out the insturment.

Once she is into a full size, buy one in the $250-$500 range. Then 5-6 years later is when you drop a couple grand on one if she is still serious.

It just depends. If they are doing it to have fun then whatever insturment they want. If you are looking to set a good musical foundation then piano.

I’m currently a music minor at Washington State University and it is required all minors and majors learn basic piano because it sets such a good foundation for musical knowledge. (In our second month we’re currently practice such masterpieces as The Flinstones and James Bond. :D)