I’m undergoing a small crisis regarding my children’s musical education. A. is going to be four this year, which means he’s considered ‘ripe’ for starting his classical musical training. The only problem is, where and how? We live in a small town with relatively few resources for giving my kids the lessons I want them to have. Ideally, he’d play violin, which is what both myself and his dad have played since ages six and three, respectively. His grandfather is a renowned instrument-maker in Toronto whose violins, guitars, and basses are played all over the world. My sister is a professional cellist. All three of A.’s uncles are violinists. It’s in our family’s blood, this love of stringed instruments, and I’ve still got the tiny 1/4-size violin that started me on this track and I always dreamed my own child would play. (Read “The Violin” here.)
Now that we’re living in this town, though, there is no highly trained, young, energetic violin teacher available, let alone a stimulating string school in which to discover the joys of chamber music, group lessons, and orchestra. I benefited so greatly from a whole musical community that it saddens me to imagine A. practicing alone, in solitary confinement of sorts, without the social aspect that makes music so fun for everyone. And so, I’m agonizing over what to do. Driving two hours each way to a nearby city for weekly lessons seems overkill for a four-year-old. If he were already well-established as a violinist, that would be a different matter and I wouldn’t hesitate — though I swear I wouldn’t turn into the Tiger Mom!
I’ve considered teaching him myself, but that’s not realistic either. Music lessons are such a challenging endeavour, and one that requires tremendous daily discipline from parents, that A. definitely needs another teacher, someone who isn’t cracking the metaphorical whip during practice sessions, someone he can work to impress.
I refuse to let location undermine my children’s chances at mastering an instrument and discovering the exciting, unique world of classical music. I suppose I’ll have to scout out the best teacher in the area and go with whatever instrument he or she teaches, because having a truly gifted teacher is preferable to learning the instrument of one’s choice. But it will be with considerable pain that I tuck away that tiny little violin in hopes that, someday, my grandchildren will have access to a violin teacher. In the meantime, though, there’s still a bit of time for a violin teacher to move to the Grey-Bruce area. Fingers crossed!