Teaching the violin to beginners of any age is hard! Teaching the violin to a 3-5-year-old is an entirely different ball game! It doesn’t have to be tricky, but you do need to have an understanding (and ideally some training) in what you’re about to take on.
I’d like to show you five things that will help you get started with your early-childhood violin teaching. Of course, there are many more details that I can’t cover here and a huge amount that I am still discovering. We never stop learning and growing as educators, often learning the most from our students themselves.
As antique violins teachers we have a huge amount of responsibility to our students. Setting them up thoroughly and well from the beginning is vital should they want to build on their foundation, but even more crucial is something that’s often forgotten about in the rush to get started at an early age…
The first thing to do above any other when giving violin lessons to very young children…
A 3-5-year-old may find it hard to relate to a violin. What can they associate with it?
As teachers, we know the advantages that playing a musical instrument has on the brain.
We understand and love how the violin makes us feel when we hear and play it.
We care about the history of music and want to discover more.
We love the camaraderie of making music together in an ensemble setting.
Your average 3-5-year-old doesn’t care about any of this. It hasn’t even crossed their mind. Their interests are being in the moment, getting engrossed in their play, having their basic needs met, exploring and investigating, dinosaurs and watching Bluey. ☺
When you first have contact with the parents of a potential 3-5-year-old student, it is important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Ask the parents, why they would like their little one to learn the violin? What is it they hope to gift their child? Are they onboard to help nurture their child’s love of the instrument on a daily basis? Suggest literature they can read before they start the process.
Before you start teaching a 3-5-year-old, make clear this value above any other…
To install a love of music and the violin in the child.
Many children as they get older give up after feeling pressured and forced to learn. Learning music is not a competition. It’s an enriching process and journey.
To help a 3-5-year-old student discover a love of music and the violin, I suggest that parents create a musical home environment by listening to a wide range of music. Sing and dance together. Keep the beat together. Discuss how the music makes you feel. Does it tell a story? Music can be used as bonding time. Allow for musical play and exploration. Encourage parents to take their child to performances. Even when you hear music in the background on a TV show or film, comment on it together and draw an awareness to it.
If you and the parents can make the violin and music directly relevant to the child, then you’re onto a winner. For instance, the materials used for teaching little ones at Stringosaurus have a focus on dinosaurs and often monkeys, (an anachronism ha ha). Kids connect with the activities because they love the characters. These learning materials disguise the complexity of getting well-set-up and makes the first stage of learning fun and engaging.