More than most instruments, the violin is an instrument that takes years of patience to develop into a proficient player. There are few activities in a child’s life that have the same focused attention. Not even school, which has many different subjects and teachers, has the same focus.
As a result, learning the violin becomes a unique opportunity for children to experience The Hill. When it shows up is not predictable. That it will show up is 100% reliable.
What is The Hill? It is when the pace of progress slow, learning feels more difficult and the rewards of learning diminish. And it is when most students become frustrated and want to give up. And parents, not wanting to be overbearing and risk their child growing to hate music, let kids quit.
The nature of The Hill is that it comes to an end. The piece of music that was so tricky is now easy. The exercise that was impossible can now be played. Sitting down to practice no longer feels like an act of futility.
After students crest The Hill and momentum picks up, their enjoyment of the instrument increases and the desire to play and practice also picks up, increasing that momentum.
And along comes another hill. And the cycle starts again.
The experience of The Hill is not unique to music. It is seen everywhere — school, work, relationships, exercise. If the activity requires learning and lasts more than a month, there will be a hill.
When I ask my students to tell me about hills in other things they have done, they always have an answer.
Navigating The Hill multiple times is one of the most valuable lessons kids can take away from their years as a violin student. And talking about The Hill with your child (or student) before it happens is a great first step.