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Spinoff Question from "I Want to Teach"


Samira
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Reading posts in the other topic about the need to undo bad habits from previous teachers got me thinking about the following question (for those who've studied with more than one teacher for any length of time i.e., not just for a master class or two).

Are there any of you who have NOT had the experience of undergoing a "makeover" in one way or another with regard to your technique? For example, I've studied with four different teachers, each of whom I considered highly-qualified to teach. Every one of them had significantly different ideas about what my bow hold should be. This goes beyond what any reputable player/teacher would recognize as a "bad habit," I think. Is my experience typical?

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I think your experience is typical and I was thinking along those same lines as I read that thread. Every teacher I have had has changed something but that doesn't mean what I had been doing was wrong or that my former teacher was incompetent. Sometimes things will be refined as you improve or get older, sometimes a teacher has discovered a technique that works for him/her, sometimes they simply insist you do it the way they, themselves, were taught.

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I agree with the idea that not everything you have been taught that is then changed by your 'latest' teacher is necesarily wrong. There is a wide range of ideas but the variations worldwide are getting smaller. I had three main teachers (Czech then traditional English and then Russian/Israeli). All of them changed a great deal but essentially were after the same thing. Also, many of my students from reputable 'junior' teachers complain when I critise their bow hold for instance. When I ask what their previous teacher taught them and we discuss the various merits of the two differing points of view it is quite common for the two schools to be nearly identical, it's the student who has lost sight of the correct technique over time. Any more discussion points can be sent this way if you would like a european perspective.

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That's what made me stop taking lessons. My experience was probably extreme, but I had two teachers in a row who essentially wanted to "trash" everything I had learned from the one before. It seemed that (to them)the previous teacher had been totally wrong, and that I needed to unlearn everything and start with the absolute basics. Once I could take, but after a year of unlearning and reconstruction to be told I had to do it all again was too much. I had no aspirations to a musical career - I just enjoyed playing. I just said, "who needs this?", dumped the lessons played for fun. Over the years I have improved on my own, and finally, now that its far too late, I realize I had the talent all along to have had some kind of a career if I had wanted it, been encouraged, and not had squabbling teachers.

I have decided to find a teacher again this year, but this time I'm laying down the law from the start. If they want to fix the obvious weaknesses (and I know what they are) that's great, but no starting all over - not this time smile.gif

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Yes, until I decided that I was sticking to the Russian method and that any teacher I studied with would either have to be of that school, or would be helping me mainly with musical ideas rather than trying to change my bow hold. In general I think people are amazingly non-discriminating when they go to a teacher. You need to audition the teacher and find out what his/her approach is, and what s/he'll be tinkering with in your playing. Otherwise, you end up reinventing the wheel from a different design (which might be a good thing if you're unhappy with the method you were previously taught).

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Exactly. I keep thinking I really ought to work with a teacher, but it's damn near impossible to find one who is a) interested in teaching a middle-aged amateur, and :) willing to help me build on what I do now rather than wanting to reconstruct everything, which I frankly don't have the time or patience to do.

I figure if you "know what the weaknesses are" you can make pretty good progress toward improving them on your own. I know that, working on my own with limited available practice time, I've considerably improved my playing over the last few years (not that it could possibly be described as good even now! wink.gif )

As I've said here before I really had very spotty training even as a kid. I wish I'd had good teaching from an early age, but not so that I could have been a professional; what I really would have loved is to be a "super-amateur" like Maestronet's own Lydia Leong or Andy Victor (and that's what I hope for my daughter, also.) I wouldn't have wanted to be a professional; I'm grateful that I can enjoy music without having to earn my keep at it.

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Well, "laying down the law" is exactly what I decided I needed to do when I started taking lessons again last year. I told my prospective teacher that a) I wasn't going to ditch my shoulder rest! and :) that if she wanted to change things around she'd have to take it slow and we'd have to be partners in the process. She also took the time to ask me what my goals were, generally and specifically. And for the past two years we've worked really well together. She has made significant changes in my technique (particularly my bow hold) but in manageable increments over time. She has never failed to note and praise my strengths as an experienced amateur adult player and together we choose pieces that allow those strengths to shine while allowing me to progress in the technical areas that need work. We rotate among different technical aspects every few months, so for awhile she'll have me focusing specifically on bow hold, then when I've made progress in that area we'll do work that focuses on vibrato, and then later we'll come back to bow hold or other issues, so that I don't get frustrated trying to change everything at once and she feels (I hope) that I am moving forward in the directions that she wants to see. I am VERY lucky to have her as a teacher.

I think it's really important to have a teacher, even if you have no plans to become a professional, but if the teacher is going to do more harm than good to your self-esteem and enjoyment than it's probably WORSE than not having a teacher at all.

Good luck...be persistent!

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Bowholds, bowholds, bowholds. Dogma, Dogma, Dogma. This has caused a **lot** of damage. I didn't want to be the first to mention it, but this has been the worst problem in my experience. I hear this mentioned more than anything else, and I can only say "amen".

It seems that everyone likes to be right, but they are all different. Some teachers insist on something **really** awkward because of something they were told (and probably misinterpreted. Just try inheriting a Russian bowhold in this age, and see what that will get you. It was devastating for someone I know. I agree totally with Mr. Redrobe.

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Sounds like you found exactly the kind of person I'm looking for, and I'm glad to hear it. I'm sure there is someone like that in this area, I just have to hunt them down.

Its funny but I seem to have reached a peak lately where I keep surprising myself with how I sound. Pieces I always wanted to play but never tried, now seem just barely out of reach - but I know I'll never reach them without a teacher. As important as music has been in my life (the one constant), its becoming an obsession. Well - better late than never smile.gif

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