I've talked to Delta's group teacher (Mrs. J) this morning, and his main teacher (Miss A) this afternoon, and we have a bit of a plan worked out.
Miss A says that she hasn't experienced a pupil quite like Delta in all her years of teaching - that although she has had students that have done similar things, that he isn't reacting the same with her methods to bring him out of it. She has admitted that the next few weeks are going to be basically an experiment.
Delta does love to play the violin, and does often (but not always) have a good practice with me. But we are stuck in one spot, as Miss A can not teach him anything new. Basically, Delta doesn't like being corrected at all with technique - and will resist it. From the bit of talking with him, from what I can get out of him (he doesn't express feelings that well) - he is nervous, and scared of making mistakes - especially with his teacher. Even in practice with me, I have found that I have to be very careful of how I help him with his technique, and I am working very hard to make sure I always find something good to praise.
I brought up getting a new teacher, but Miss A doesn't think that a new teacher would make a big difference.... he is resistant to correction by me as well as her - and a different teacher would need to be fixing his technique too. She said that that is something she has thought out. However, it may still be a route to take.
So her plan is - the next 2 weeks, she is going to play the games that she uses with him (snakes and ladders, fishing, etc) - and just let him play the violin without her trying to fix any technique or anything. Just make the lesson fun for him, with no reason for anxiety. She is hoping that this will help break the pattern that his lessons are taking. The 3rd week, she is going to try to start working with him to improve his technique as gently as possible. By that point, she feels that she will know if this will end up helping or not. During that time, we are going to try to observe a couple of lessons with another student. (She has selected 2 students who are boys near him in age.... and they were both in his group class last year, so he will know them and should be comfortable with them....) - just so that he can see various things - that the other students get corrected with their techniques too, that a class can go well, etc....
If after the 3rd week there isn't any improvement, the week after that is a spring break week. Her recommendation is at that point to quit until September - but with talking to me on it - at that point we will try a different teacher. So she (as head of the program here), is going to check which teachers have room. It is a pretty booked program here, so we will have to see what is available. She is also hoping to find room for him (if it is found to be necessary) with one of the teachers that has a fair amount of experience.
I honestly think that the poor guy really wants to play the violin so much (he wanted to play violin before I had ever mentioned it as a possibility....) and he wants to do it well - that he puts so much pressure on himself that he gets himself all tied up in knots inside almost paralysing him - so he does dodging tactics until the lesson is over and he can breathe a sigh of relief that the lesson is done.
So we had the "practice" lesson with the teacher, where she watched me conduct a practice with Delta, who often refuses to do anything in class. Although it wasn't our smoothest practice, he did do a lot of things, some of which he hasn't done for the teacher in months. She is going to be calling soon to discuss it more. We had to quit the practice before Delta wanted to because the time was up for the lesson - and the teacher wanted to say a few words - and Delta just went right into the refusal behaviour - refusing to look at her, spinning around, etc.
So - what she said basically is that he has 3 more lessons before the spring break - and that if he isn't showing that he can listen to her and wants to learn, that we should take a break until September.
This really has me upset. Yes, I can see where she is coming from - but I don't think that that will help at all. My son is trying for the 100 days of practice in a row award that is given at the end of the year...... so that would be wrecked. He will be stuck where he is for another 7 months??? To me it is like saying "Every child can learn - oh, except yours......." I mean, I know that isn't what she is saying, but that is sure what it feels like.
I'd think maybe it is more an indication that my son needs a different teacher..... but his teacher is the director of the suzuki program in our city - so I'm not sure that that would even be an option.
Delta is mostly doing practices well recently (but not always) - using a variety approach. His group lessons seem to go pretty good with him doing what he is supposed to. But individual lessons are NOT going well, so he isn't getting taught anything new at all, and has been stuck at the same point pretty much all year. His instructor is supposed to be one of the best ones available (I have heard this from a few sources.)
Anyway, his instructor called, as it was obvious we needed to talk without any listening ears. She is having us try to do a practice for the lesson next week.... so basically, she is going to sit back and say nothing, and I'm going to try to have Delta do a practice at her place while she observes. She basically told me on the phone that she is baffled. Although she has had other students in the past do similar things (refusing to do the lesson, etc) - that the techniques that she uses to get past that just isn't working for my son. So as the practices are going better most of the time than the lesson, she is hoping to figure out a way to get the lessons moving smoother.
Hopefully he will co-operate with me during the practice - we had one of our best practices in a long time yesterday, and I'm hoping that the one for the teacher might go as well.... I'm really hoping we can get a breakthrough happening. That is where we are at. I am really hoping that we can get him to doing Twinkles before the end of the year, because 2 years of being a pre-twinkler is really hard on us - and it may make it really hard to convince my husband that it is worth the money for next year!