Skip to main content

Let's Have Fun, Kids!

"I am mentally preparing myself for the five-year-old mind. I want to come down to their physical limitations and up to their sense of wonder and awe." -Dr. Suzuki

As a violin teacher, a subject that seems to crop up a lot in my daily work is the notion of "fun." Students would, of course, rather have fun than work. Teachers strive to create both fun AND productive activities. Parents worry that their child is not having fun anymore while practicing at home.

There are mountains of books written (which, of course, I've read) pouring over how to make a fun learning environment. What does and doesn't work in different educational settings is covered ad nauseum.

I realized the other day after coming across the above Dr. Suzuki quote that it's kind of ironic how much adults over-analyze "fun." What a fun lesson really boils down to is: if the teacher is not having fun, why should the kids? The essence of fun is that it's entertaining, not hard to do and slightly spontaneous. Children get that. As adults we naturally lose our sense of spontaneity. Life has to be at least be partially planned out in order to function.

Teaching requires a constant reevaluation of one's presentation. If an activity you read about falls flat once you actually try it, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're a bad teacher or bad parent. It just means that it didn't mesh with your own personal style.


  1. I've always loved that quote from Dr. Suzuki. It's easy to forget when you get bogged down in lesson plans and overanalyze "what kids need to understand" if they want play well. You're right - teaching requires constant reevaluation of your own presentation. You have to present a new skill in a way they understand, want to attempt it, *and* practice it at home. It's a balancing act between keeping the lesson fun, keeping their attention, and making sure they're executing the skills correctly - all at the same time!

  2. So true. Plus just always trying to remember which parts are *actually* the enjoyable parts. Like if you let them pick a colored dice the fun is in the color selection process. Things that adults sometimes see as "wastes of time" really shouldn't be the thing that's rushed.

  3. Oh, yes! That quote embodies what makes a lesson with a child go well instead of poorly, and I love your reminder that fun is actually incredibly easy to create. Sometimes I try to hard to make it all relate to my master plan, but a little game that has little to do with the lesson's goals sometimes is just the thing to clear the air.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Private Teaching Business Model

Over my years of teaching I've come across a wide variety of interpretations about the private teaching business model.  I feel that this is a natural result of the type of society we live in.  Many services these days are either "subscriptions" or "appointments."  For example, a gym membership is a subscription.  You pay a monthly fee to use the facility at any time during their hours of operation.  A doctor's visit or a haircut is an "appointment."  You call ahead to set up a time, you show up and then pay after the services have concluded.

With most services falling into one of these two categories, most people try to rationalize music lessons as one or the other.  However, music lessons are neither subscriptions or appointments.  They are actually a combination of both if the business entity is going to be successful.

The reasons why this hybrid business model occurs are:

1)  The service itself is centered around personal attention (appointmen…

Music as a Language: Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland

Victor Wooten is an innovator, composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist. He has been called the greatest bass player in the world. He is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician, husband and father of four, and a five-time Grammy award winner.

Performance Anxiety Part 1

My husband and I both love disc golf.  It's something that we both started together as beginners together so it became "our" thing to do as a couple.  We eventually got to the point after playing for a few years that I wanted to attempt playing in a disc golf tournament.  He was a bit more hesitant than me but I insisted, arguing that it would be a fun way to really test our skills.

I've written a few posts before about how playing disc golf taught me the value of muscle memory.  But during our first few tournaments we both quickly discovered a whole new category of unexplored skills: performing under pressure.  To be blunt, we both stunk.

As a musician, I was no stranger to performing.  I've lost count of how many solo/orchestra/chamber performances I've done.  Before that first tournament I had assumed that performance anxiety wouldn't affect me because of said experience.  I was just going out there to have fun, right?

Well, I was.  But the thing I had…