Learning music takes creativity and imagination, but a lot of violin lessons involves technical work - making sure that your shoulders are level, the violin is tall, the bow hold is just so, etc. And in the face of so much technical work, it can be easy to lose the sight of one's ultimate musical goals.
My first suggestion for creating enthusiastic practicers involves marketing like Disney. Think about the Disney experience. There's the movies, and the soundtracks. There are the dolls, the action figures, the backpacks, the clothing. There are coloring books and stickers.
Unless I miss my guess, several of you know all of the words to the Frozen soundtrack. My second guess is that you didn't actively sit down and try to learn those songs. Think about how you learned it. Constant repetition, whether you wanted it or not. The full immersion experience.
Violin can work the same way. Think of creating an immersion experience for violin. If your child's only associations with violin involve going to lessons and having to practice at home - especially if fights between parent and child take place about practicing - they may have more associations of work, fights, and frustration than joy and fun.
So, help your child feel like a violinist. Buy a special tote bag just to hold their violin music. Listen to violin music a lot. Buy dvds of violinists playing concerts and have those on in the car when you're driving around. Watch movies that have kids playing music in them. I LOVE Music of the Heart, which stars Meryl Streep and is available on Netflix streaming. Look up audio recordings that are designed especially for kids and have narration or even a story featuring violin music. Buy the mini violin for the American Girl dolls and have your child monitor a practice session for the doll! And of course, take your kids to lots of live concerts so that they can see other violinists in action. Consider the concert hall the Disney World of music. Help your kids use their imaginations to put themselves in the amazing world of violin music and to really see themselves as violinists. In short, let violin be as integral a part of their lives as Disney movies, music, and products.
We as human beings are incredibly sensitive to our environments and to the messages that are being broadcast. Yes, playing violin is fun, but practicing can be a chore, even for the most dedicated students. Let's make sure that our students are barraged with positive, fun, and creative messages about music to help inspire them and realize how worth it all that practicing can be.
I've made a couple Pinterest boards to help you get started on your search. They have everything from Beethoven action figures to movies to violin-themed jewelry. Check them out here:
Violin Toys, Books, and Media
**Update: Part 2 is now up! Check it out here.**