A Letter

by Marinka on May 3, 2011

Last week, I received this email from Young Ladrinka’s music teacher:

At first I thought it was really sweet of the music to teacher to write to me to make sure that I was enjoying the springtime!

And it certainly was long-awaited, what with the snow and all.   Why, my heart sang when I saw that the trees were finally budding!  I waited for spring through the winter months (AND March! And April!) and now it is finally here! Just try to stop me from enjoying it!

I was about to write back and thank the music teacher for the well springtime wishes when I noticed the addendum to the otherwise pleasant note about the weather.

Some nonsense about the violin. 

It seems like Young Ladrinka, that rascal, hasn’t been practicing the violin for the necessary 50 minutes a week.

I know what you’re thinking– why do today’s teachers bother innocent American parents with this stuff? and I admit that it was my first thought too.  And also second.

But then I started thinking.

And then I stopped.

But then I started thinking again.

About how maybe,  just maybe, it’s my fault that Young Ladrinka isn’t practicing the violin.

I mean, I may have told him not to practice that thing where people, especially I, can hear him.

Because have you ever heard a beginning violin player?  It’s not a sound you’d wish on your worst nails-on-a-chalkboard enemy.

And no, 50 minutes a week isn’t a lot of time. I’m sure a 50 minute jaunt through hell would be enjoyable as well.

Believe me, when your kid is sawing that violin for five minutes it can make time stand still.  And your life flash before your eyes, to a screeching soundtrack.

On the other hand, screw it. Why is it always the mother’s fault? Because it’s convenient for society to blame us women. As a feminist, I’m throwing off the shackles of blame.

If Young Ladrinka can’t figure out how to practice his violin for 50 minutes a week silently, that’s not my fault.

And I have to be honest.  This whole thing is really interfering with my appreciation of springtime.  Long awaited though it may have been.

Today on a very special episode of The Mouthy Housewives
Dear Mouthy Housewives, I’m a SAHM to a two-year-old boy and my husband has a good job that makes decent money. That’s not the problem – the hours are keep reading!

One year ago ...

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

The Culture Mom May 3, 2011 at 12:56 am

I just read the Tiger Mom book and we talked about it at book club, and I was so surprised at how diligent all the other moms in group were about piano practice. They all made their kids practice daily for certain periods of time. I, on the other hand, can only get my kids to practice for 5 minutes every few days. Maybe they don’t love piano, I don’t know. But their teacher doesn’t crack the whip, and neither do I. I’m not saying to find a new teacher, but maybe she’s taking herself too seriously?


elizabeth-flourish in progress
May 3, 2011 at 1:23 am

I just got an involutary reaction (jaw tightening, eyes twitching) while reading about the violin practice. Not unlike the reaction I have when lovely Cal practices piano. We did a year of the violin, but all it taught the family is “mom gets a lot of headaches.”


kimberly May 3, 2011 at 3:19 am

Practice makes perfect.


May 3, 2011 at 5:14 am

Term parent has such a broad spectrum these days. Anyone you assign and notarize will do. Now it is up to you to find someone who will appreciate young Ladrinka’s 50 minutes of practice and sign at the end. While you appreciate the spring.


Sophie@Fabrications May 3, 2011 at 5:29 am

It’s your fault he’s taking violin lessons in the first place. What in heaven’s name were you thinking?


From Belgium May 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

I took art classes for most of my teenage life and we had them next to the beginners level violin class. Thanks for bringing those fond memories back!


Snow Wife May 3, 2011 at 7:58 am

Do you have outside space? I would share the joy with all the neighbors and heck record it on video for prosperity and threaten to show it at his wedding in umpteen years.
Hire a sitter for 1 hour to sit and listen and sign off while you head on “on errands” it may be the nest money spent.


Fairly Odd Mother
May 3, 2011 at 8:15 am

My daughter was THIS CLOSE to starting the violin. Thank goodness she came to her senses and decided against it. Because as much as I love the well-played violin, I didn’t have enough money to ship her off to a deserted island for her to live until she could play well enough to not make me want to stick wax in my ears.

My sympathies.

And maybe you should just teach your son to forge your signature so he can do the signing and not bother you with these silly little tasks.


Miss Britt
May 3, 2011 at 8:27 am

This is why I’m teaching my children that musicians never make any money.


b a seagull
May 3, 2011 at 8:53 am

Why can’t his reading tutor devote 20 short minutes to his violin practice? There will still be plenty of bonding time.


Marinka May 3, 2011 at 9:01 am

This is the best idea ever. Thank you.


Marinka May 3, 2011 at 9:00 am


I did not sign up Young Ladrinka for violin lessons. Because if I’d signed him up for the violin lessons and then told him that he couldn’t practice, that would be insane. To say nothing of a waste of money.

The violin lessons are part of the school curriculum.

I know.


Lisa A. May 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

Been there, done that – except it was a saxophone times 2.


Maravonda May 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

When my boy was young Ladrinka’s age, he wanted to learn the trumpet. Happily, we lived on 10 acres of wooded ground at the time…he would go deep into the woods to practice…there WAS that mass migration of wildlife, but otherwise, a peaceful solution…


the mama bird diaries
May 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

Spring seems like an awesome time to practice one’s violin in Washington Square Park. Or anywhere else outside.


Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)
May 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

Perhaps he should take up a less abrasive instrument, like the bagpipes or drums.


May 3, 2011 at 10:13 am

Back when I lived in Austin there was a guy who played the air guitar for money. He was nice and quiet. Perhaps, Young Ladrinka should take up the air violin?


May 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

Get him to practice in the subway stations. People will pay him to stop. Win-win!


J May 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

I actually got a headache even thinking about this.

I had no idea that learning to play the violin was a necessary function in life. I mean, now I know why I am not successful at life in general. Heh.

Do they make kids take financial responsibility/planning classes? I am just hoping that somehow they are incorporating things that MATTER (not to say that children that LOVE playing an instrument are not awesome).


May 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

I have suggestion, is shocking I know, have Young Lad-rinka switch to cello. I too suffered cruelly for years with the violin and then switched to cello, even the most terrible orchestra player (me) can’t make the cello sound bad- it’s a fact.


Phoenix Rising
May 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I played the clarinet. There are high notes on that sucker as well. I feel I must now go and apologize to my mother… who must now wear hearing aids, by the way. Coincidence? I think not.


May 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

As a mother of an 8 year old who is a beginning violinist..I feel your pain.

Prayers to you.


Mwa (Lost in Translation) May 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm


I learned the violin when I was little and was told to practice in my room only. It was two floors above the living room. Maybe three. My mother was kind of clever that way.

I am now clever in that I have bought an electronic piano, with headphones, and am quietly stearing my lovely little buttercups towards that instrument instead.


Suzy Voices May 3, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I just had my son forge my signature on his stupid practice sheets. This worked until the teacher called me to tell me my son had forged my signature. At which point I said, “Well, is he doing poorly in class?” The teacher said no, and I said, “Well he must be practicing then!”


always home and uncool
May 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Haven’t you seen “The Music Man”? He’s practicing in his head! And that’s the only place anyone should hear a kid learn to fiddle.


Ann's Rants
May 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

My violining was so beautiful my parents had me practice on the front porch while they were inside with the door shut.

True story.


Karen at French Skinny May 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm

My whole family was nice enough to cram themselves into the back of the house while I practiced the violin every day for an hour in the kitchen.
They all must be saints.


annie May 4, 2011 at 12:27 am

I have a beginning bassoon player at my house……..I win.

And by I win, I mean my ears are bleeding more than yours.


A Mommy in the City
May 4, 2011 at 8:40 am

I can only imagine your pain. My ears are bleeding at just the thought of it. Perhaps he could pick up another instrument that is less annoying when starting out?


Becky Rice
May 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

I think violin lessons should come with earplugs for the parents. Suddenly, I’m grateful that my boys show no musical inclination what-so-ever, and only want to play sports.


anna see May 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

My mom grew up in a school for the deaf and blind (her dad was the principal). She said listening to the violin practices was very unpleasant…

My 9 yr old wakes me up with her recorder music each morning.


dusty earth mother May 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

Have you ever seen that Brady Bunch episode where Bobby is taking drum lessons and they make him practice in the garage? Oh. Two problems. You live in Manhattan and you ain’t Florence Henderson.


May 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Violin is horrible in the beginning. I feel bad for you.

My brother used to play the saxophone. He choose it just to piss my mom off. She used to make him practice it outside.


trudy May 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Marinka, you can buy a mute for a violin check out your nearest string center…It doesn’t fully mute it but it does make it a little more bearable..and chin up only another 5 years and it will sound like cats mating and not dying!(he’ll have more rhythm)


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