Seating as ranking in youth orchestras:
What do you think?
For my taste, I don’t think it is the way to go. Rotational seating is much better for everyone. Ranked seating can put a great deal of undue pressure on students (and parents!). If you want to showcase an individual’s talent, hold a concerto competition, or invite one of your students to come and play a solo with the orchestra. But to rank students in such a public way is not effective—and it can never be truly accurate anyway. Side effects that I have seen over the years include students actually quitting—not the orchestra, but the violin altogether. There are other ways to keep order, provide positive motivation and encouragement, and to foster a healthy and productive amount of competitive spirit in music students.
I have two sons, aged 7 and 4 years old. My older son began violin lessons when he was 6 years old. When I asked his current teacher if I could begin my 4-year-old, she said that he was too young to begin violin lessons. What is the right age to start, and what age is too young?
This is a good question, and there are many factors to consider. First, not every 4-year-old is ready to begin learning the violin. Second, not every teacher is able to teach a 4-year-old child to play the violin. In both cases, there is nothing wrong at all. Over the years, I have taught many 4-year-olds (in addition to beginners of all ages) to play the violin, and I have also told many parents that their 4 -year-old needed some more time to mature before beginning violin lessons with me.
The right age to start is when the individual child is ready to accept direction from the teacher and is ready to take on a new activity. This does not happen at the exact same time/age for every child. The factors to consider are so numerous, I could not even be able to list them all.
Oftentimes, teachers will have a specific age groups that they feel able to teach; and this can vary from a narrow age group (4th-5th graders only for example), to a larger age group (such as Elementary School-High School). There are some teachers who do not like to teach children at all and prefer to teach at the college level and beyond exclusively. These preferences can have a lot to do with the individual teacher’s training, teaching experience, temperament, or any combination of the three. Advice: check in with your current teacher to find out if he/she would like you to wait a year or so for your son to start, or if your teacher does not teach that age group at all. This will give you a good heads-up as to how you would like to proceed!