Big Girl has been learning playing the violin for over a year now, learning with the Suzuki method. I have sat in on quite a few lessons, and also helped her practice, and in a year, I can see she has made progress and in my limited knowledge of violin, seems to be doing well. She likes her lessons, and seems to want to continue playing and doesn’t mind practicing.
We now have the choice of putting her forward for her first exam, or as it is being termed “prep test”, next year. The teacher is slightly putting pressure on both me, and her to sign up for it, and practice. It is not an exam where she will pass or fail, and at the end all children get a certificate, and comments on how they are doing.
Do I sound like a bad parent, or maybe I don’t, when I say that I don’t actually care if she does the test or not? I care that she enjoys the classes, that she is learning to be disciplined about playing and practising a musical instrument and that she is learning musical skills. I don’t like exams and tests, and in reality, whilst I think she is doing well, I feel like the pressure to perform during is not something she needs to deal with right now. She herself admits that she doesn’t know if she wants to do the exam or not, and I have told her she can decide and if she wants to do it, I will help her practice, and if she decides not to, then that’s fine with me, too. I have explained to her that it isn’t a pass or fail exam, but she is like me, and is worried about performing in front of other people, and being watched. I hated that kind of pressure at school, and don’t want to take the joy she gets out of playing the violin, away from her with pressure to practice, even if it’s not a real exam. I guess hang ups from my own childhood, and expectations on being able to “perform” are making this seem like a bigger thing than it really is? Also, we have to pay for this test, and whilst I have no issue with that, if she really doesn’t feel comfortable, am I pushing her, by stumping up the money, and making her go forward?
So, I have not mentioned it, since the forms came home, but the teacher is asking for a decision. I plan to go to her lesson next week, to see how she is getting on, and then go from there. I want her to decide, and then I will help her if she wants to. I am feeling the pressure from the teacher “all the other children in the classes are taking the test…” and I feel bad, for not being right up there and super enthusiastic about it.
I have no idea why this whole thing is bothering me, and felt like I needed to get if off my chest. Is it really not a big deal, and I should encourage her, and sign her up for it, and deal with her anxieties so she can do the test. Does she really need to be doing tests and getting graded? Why does 8 feel too young to be starting down the road of exams and tests and pressure to perform?
What would you do?