Jun 17, 2014

The Real Reason Why Kids "Give Up" Learning an Instrument

We're lucky and honored to feature many of our P.E.T. Instructors as "guest bloggers" here on the P.E.T. Blog. Check out what Certified Instructor - Jen Kovarovic - has to say about her complementing roles as a P.E.T Instructor and as a violin teacher.
In addition to being an authorized P.E.T. instructor, I am a Suzuki violin teacher, instructing budding musicians as young as age three. A hallmark of the Suzuki approach is the active participation of parents during lessons and at-home practice sessions, and my job as the teacher is to train the parents for their role. It became clear in my teaching that the obstacles parents were facing had nothing to do with the technicalities of learning the violin, or anything ever addressed in my music education training. They were butting up against the very nature of their family dynamics, with problems showing up as power struggles around practicing, competing demands for a family’s time and energy, and so many other conflicts.

In 2008, I began including P.E.T. in the curriculum for families in my violin studio. I have always opened the class to violin families as well as other participants, and nothing in how I run the course is violin-specific. But what I found is that the tools parents took away (such as I-statements, active listening and problem-solving) began to seep into their violin studies, diffusing the tension around practicing. With P.E.T. skills replacing power struggles, both parents and children were able to remember the love of music that drove them to pursue the violin in the first place.

Too many music students quit for the wrong reasons—not because they lose their love for the instrument or embrace another activity, but because the process becomes too unpleasant for the family. In my studio, I have seen the power of P.E.T. to address these all-too-common roadblocks, thereby allowing a family to enjoy music together again. Violin is just one of many activities in a child’s life that calls for discipline and hard work, and any one of those pursuits—in arts, sports, academics or elsewhere—is bound to bring up the same pitfalls that I see in my music studio. I can only hope that more teachers and families embrace P.E.T. as a way to support the hard, valuable work they are doing in their chosen fields.
Jen Kovarovic is the founder of Suzuki by the Sound, a violin studio in Seattle. Her next P.E.T. course runs this summer, Wednesday nights from July 2 to August 27, 2014.

For more information on Jen's upcoming P.E.T. class, email: family@gordontraining.com.