The child really wants to learn but the parent isn't interested and employs tactics such as forgetting the instrument, keeps them busy all the time so there's no time to practice and has arranged lessons on an alternative instrument even though the child has expressed a preference for the violin and is good at it, having a natural bow hold and good coordination between bow and finger placement etc

  • 13
    This question might be more on topic on Interpersonal Stack Exchange or Parenting Stack Exchange, depending on what your relationship with the child is (friend, teacher, etc.).
    – Clockwork
    May 30, 2021 at 13:22
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    Are you an observer (friend, colleague of the parent, etc.), the violin teacher, the alternate instrument teacher, or the child?
    – Dekkadeci
    May 30, 2021 at 15:21
  • 1
    @Dekkadeci - I assumed teacher, but - who knows?
    – Tim
    May 30, 2021 at 15:57
  • 2
    Bit more detail would help - which parent, other kids, age of both, even country may be relevant.
    – Tim
    May 30, 2021 at 16:03
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    @ToddWilcox - absolutely. But if you were the teacher in that situation and saw the raw talent (I've been there), how frustrating is that - and what could be done? You're right, not much. But...
    – Tim
    May 30, 2021 at 17:37

4 Answers 4


Is the parent actively discouraging their child? Or is the parent simply a busy person who doesn't care one way or another about whether their child plays violin or does any of a dozen other activities? Because they're presumably paying for lessons, which implies a level of active support. And is the child actually both invested in playing and unable to remember their own instrument? Because "do you have your instrument for lessons" is a reasonable level of responsibility to expect of an interested child. And all those other activities. Is that parent insisting or child expressing interest and parent indulging?

No matter what the situation is, you won't know what's going on until you actually talk to both the parent and the child about your actual concerns.

If the parent is truly discouraging, you won't get past that. If they're simply uninvested, find out why and ask what it would take for them to be willing to invest more. Also, put a basic level of responsibility on the child. They should be expected to remember their own instrument at the least.

  • 6
    Have in mind, depending of the age of the child, that children are susceptible for suggestional asking techniques, and may answer "what the OP want to hear" (with or without intention of the OP). This is not lying, only the wish to please the adults, which every child has as basic instinct, some more and some less. In conclusion all answers (parent's and child's) will be biased :) May 31, 2021 at 5:02

Forgetting the instrument

If you have an instrument the student can use during lessons, then that's probably your best solution. But understanding this may not be possible, then your next option is to practice things that don't require the instrument: music theory (at a keyboard if available), sight singing, listening (to expand repertoire and general musical awareness and interest), or any other activities you can create.

No time to practice

One must always teach the student according to what they're ready for when the arrive at the lesson, whether after a good or bad week of practice, or after a lot or a little or no practice at all. Your lessons guarantee that the student is learning at least as often as you meet.

A caution

The parent is the parent, and the music teacher is the music teacher. It's the teacher's responsibility to provide the best learning experience possible — during lesson time. The practical problems of "forgetting" an instrument or not having time to practice can be adapted to. The parent-child relationship is outside the teacher's purview. Consider that any attempt to address your feelings with the parent's choices could well result in losing the student, in which case they cannot benefit from what you are able to provide within the current limitations.


Obviously not an ideal learning situation, but how often is the learning situation actually ideal? None of us know which interested or uninterested person will prevail in the end, but as long as the interested person receives support and validation of their interest from others, chances are better that they will make progress in pursuit of their interest. Uninterest on a parents part only increases the responsibilities that the student has to accept in order to continue to pursue those interests. If the student understands their own increased responsibility, they very often will step up and accept that responsibility in order to keep going after that interest. If they can do that one action, accepting responsibility for their own success, it will be much more difficult to impede their growth and development. Of course success is never actually assured even if the situation is ideal. Such is life.


Realistically? Nothing. Take the money as long as they want to keep paying. Then move on.

But are you sure you're getting the full information? Children come up with very ingenious justifications for lack of practice.

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    I'd upvote this if only I knew whether the question asker really is the violin teacher like you imply. I'm still stuck following "Never underestimate people's ability to deceive on the Internet", so I'm still stuck considering the possibility that the question asker is the child and they are artificially disconnecting themselves from the question context when they are in fact deeply involved.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 31, 2021 at 11:53
  • @Dekkadeci - Jesus dude that's some hard core conspiracy theory. It's like a script of a really bad movie.
    – Davor
    May 31, 2021 at 14:26
  • And here is a Really Bad Movie. youtube.com/watch?v=Xl1KWaOsDsc
    – Laurence
    May 31, 2021 at 15:46
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    @Davor - A good reason to disconnect yourself from the question context when you are the child is because you're kinda underage (some websites do not allow users under the age of 13).
    – Dekkadeci
    Jun 1, 2021 at 12:09

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