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A disheartened fiddler.......


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Hi folks, havent posted for a while because I feel really disheartened with my fiddle playing at the moment. I have recently had to change violin teachers and I cant settle with the new person. I dont think he has ever taught adults before and constantly treats me like a child (I am 24 for goodness sake!!). I have only been playing for 18 months to 2 years approx and am playing at a grade 5 level according to my previous teacher. Yet this guy makes me feel like all my hard work has been a waste of time and that I cant play anything worth peanuts. What makes this worse is thar because he makes me feel like this, I dread my lessons. When I get there I am so nervous of cocking everything up, that that is exactly what I do! This is driving me scatty, and I feel like all my passion for the fiddle is slowly being drained away.

Have any of you guys ever been in a situation like this, and if so what did you do to help?

Thanks

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Do whatever is necessary to retain your passion. Leave if need be. If you're playing at a five year level (according to your previous teacher), is it absolutely necessary for you to continue with a teacher? Could you teach yourself for awhile? Is there ANY other teacher that you could go to...and do a lot of checking around before you say a definitive "no". By the way, what sort of music do you play?

Either that or just don't sweat it with this new teacher. Go to each lesson aiming to take away whatever is taught, listen to the comments you think are fair and ignore the ones that you feel insulted by. Try to make the situation as bright as you can and take away whatever you can. Focus on the benefits. Beneath it all, is that teacher actually teaching you good things? Is there much to learn from this teacher? If so, just learn a technique and say "thanks" and walk out with nothing else but having learned that technique. Simply don't absorb that which makes you uncomfortable.

Also, don't discount this teacher's comments. Perhaps your last teacher had lower standards. Perhaps this new teacher is very perfectionistic and demands only the best from students (which can be a good thing.) Perhaps you should give it a bit of time...it takes a while to transfer teaching styles from children to adults...the teaching might improve. Are you sure your playing is really as good as your last teacher said? Is this new teacher your first second opinion to what your last teacher said? Are you simply having to get used to this new teaching style and getting upset too quickly? Were you expecting a teacher just like your last one and now are disappointed? Was your last teacher soft and your new one more gruff and exacting? Both kinds can be good, but there is a period where you have to adjust. Perhaps you were built up by your last teacher and feel torn down by this one. This new one may make you REALLY work and improve. Who knows, he may end up being a great teacher. After all, he doesn't make you feel like you can't play, you allow him to. If you learn how not to allow him to by changing your attitude, you might be in a rather good situation.

You see, there are a lot of things you can do. There are many choices you can make. Make your enjoyment of the instrument a priority and then see how you can attain that. Sometimes you have to change the situation, and sometimes you have to change your attitude in order to make that situation better. Do what you feel is right, but make sure it's for the right reasons.

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It is no fun going to a lesson where you do not connect with your teacher, I know.

I would suggest to keep up your lessons with the new teacher while looking for another. Try and take what you can from the new teach. You may be right in that he (or she) has never taught adults. The teacher I have now will sometimes grab my bow hand to try and make it relax like she would a kid (I don't think grabbing my bow hand is helping me to relax, but that's another story). But nevertheless, I REALLY like my teacher. She doesn't have any LESS expectations of me because I am an adult beginner. She expects the same from me as she does her 8 yr olds, and that is to come to class prepared and to leave knowing that I have accomplished something new. It took a little while to establish a relationship but now I couldn't imagine having another.

Maybe you just need to give it a little time for both you and your teacher to adjust to each other. If you don't think you can, keep looking.

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Thanks for your comments, much appreciated. I am giving the lessons a chance as I dont want to ditch him before I am really sure how I feel. He is a good teacher in the sense that I can still learn from him, its just the belittling manner he uses to instruct me. My husband says I should look for a new teacher while remaining with him for the time being, so I will probably decide how I feel at the end of this term. However, I do feel a bit like I am paying a lot of money for my lessons and so if one teacher makes me unhappy, then it is time to move on. Aint life wonderful!!

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It sounds like the new teacher is abusive (i.e., doesn't treat you wtih respect), and I would kick them to the curb so fast it would make their head spin. You don't have to be nasty, just call them and say you're looking in a different direction. Surely (I hope) this person is not a Suzuki teacher? Respect for the individual is integral to good teaching. Don't put up with it for another second. Run for your life. You deserve better!!

susan

P.S.: You might want to think of changing your handle on here; there's another fellow, Mark Knight, known as "mad fiddler," who is very active on the net in many forums, a male from the UK, and a popular non-traditional fiddler in his area. I'm sure he's a good musician, but you wouldn't want to be confused with him, I suppose, as he's male, etc...

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So many of us can relate to your situation. If you've played long enough and taken from enough teachers, you will experience all kinds of teaching styles. 20 years ago I studied with Harvey Shapiro first at a music festival in British Columbia and then at the Juilliard School. He was well-known for his abusive style, "A monkey could play better than you," etc. But the abuse was part of his persona. We all took lessons in front of each other so we saw him dish it out to everyone similarly. We also then could see the truth in what he was saying when it was someone else. Though it hurt, eventually what he said sunk in. I am still hearing his voice in my head today. Not the abusive statements but the solutions he suggested. Now I would never go back to such a teacher. The pain is not worth the benefit.

I might suggest bringing a tape recorder to your lessons to tape it from start to finish. Maybe you will hear where the truth is in your teacher's statements. Maybe the tape recorder will temper the teacher's abusive comments!

All the best,

Karen Solgard

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I have, over the last year, taken a couple of transfer students who have moved into our area. Two of them play relatively well, but I have had some issues with their posture and hand position, so we are moving ahead and working on the issues with review pieces.

The other student is at a dead standstill because she never was taught any of the basics -- in other words, her teacher taught her notes and when she had learned the notes to the songs, she was allowed to go to the next piece.

Is it possible that your new teacher sees you playing level 5 pieces, but also is frustrated because you don't have some of the basics to be able to play them at a level 5 level. I would certainly sit down and discuss the lessons with your teacher -- explain that you are feeling frustrated and find a way to communicate that you work better with positive re-inforcement than negative.

My son switched teachers several times. One teacher was painstakingly tedious and although not entirely negative, he walked out of the lessons feeling that nothing he ever did was quite good enough. This went on over a period of a couple of years, but my son knew instinctively, that the lessons he was learning were very important. Just this last year, things have come together and lessons over the last couple of months have been amazingly positive -- and the feeling he has -- of having earned that praise -- is perhaps better than if the teacher had been positive from the beginning. He has just started coachings with another teacher on another teacher, and this new teacher is positive, but is being extremely nitpicky, telling him that if he doesn't become extremely nitpicky in his practicing, he will never earn a living playing. He responds much better to this upfront explanation of -- I am being nitpicky and here is why. Perhaps you need to ask your teacher why he is being so nitpicky or negative. But don't let it fester, because it won't get any better unless you address it in some way.

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Why not have a talk with him about how you feel? If you tell him that you feel you can learn a lot from him but you find his manner rather intimidating he may change - perhaps he doesn't realise that. Some of the great violinists had reputations like that. They could get away with it because of their status, but your teacher may not be of that godlike reputation yet :-)

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And if he chews you out for even thinking that he might want to change to accomodate your personality, you'll know it's time to pack your bags and run away from him and toward someone who will give you the respect you deserve. It doesn't matter how good or bad your playing is- you're a musician and you deserve to be treated like one. That means not only that your playing should be accepted for what it is (with an understanding that his job is to help you improve as quickly and effiently as possible, of course) but also that your ideas, values, and activities outside violin playing should be treated like important parts of who you are- not liabilities. If he can't or won't (and be aware that some people just can't) pay attention to your needs, I for one would leave. A chat might be painful but will at least bring the issue into the open and help you decide whether things can be worked out or if you should get out.

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The last few posters are right! ASK him about it! A lot of students are uncertain about confronting a teacher because they feel that teachers stand on a higher platform. But after all, you are buying his services, and you have all the rights of a consumer in this situation as well. If you bought a new car that had problems, would you feel guilty about complaining? I wouldn't, and the same is true of teachers. The ideal teacher/student relationship is one of comfort with each other. A good teacher will identify any mistakes of a previous teacher and guide you to the correct approach, not ridicule you about it. Where's the benefit in that? Confront him/her about it, and if he/she gets angry, immediately look for someone else.

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I am replying to no one in particular. I am however surprised that some give this teacher latitude, saying , his ****** up personality could be a positive thing.

I know of no teaching example where this is the case. suppose your child was in kindergarden with an abusive teacher, would anyone make allowances? I think not. Just because historically some legendary teachers of violin were harsh, gives no creedence to that as a modern technique. My fifth grade teacher slammed me on the knuckles with a ruler for talking in class. Are we looking for teachers like that in our schools nowadays, because they may have something to offer?

****can this meatball. and tell him why, before you walk out. .

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mad_fiddler, you need to let go of this one. There's no hurry to find a teacher really, especially given your level, you should be able to go months on your own, working your scales, etudes until you find a teacher you really WANT TO LEARN FROM. I don't buy the 'strict/abusive teacher but for a good reason' excuse at all. While the biggest legends in violin history have probably put up with a lot of criticism in their early/formative years, I'd also guess that too many potential stars of the violin probably dropped the instrument as the passion was simply beaten out of them. Don't let this happen to you. As an adult, your age now works to your benefit, you don't need to put up with any kind of verbal abuse - it never helps. Violin teaching in addition to being an art, is also a business and as a customer you should expect top-notch service.

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May I just take a moment to say that we cannot condemn this man as a terrible teacher without proof. Perhaps he is a fine teacher and the poster is simply a sensitive person who clashes with the teacher's personality. I don't believe it is fair to say that the teacher is "abusive", either physically or verbally without having been in his classroom during a lesson. There isn't anyone who would condone an abusive teacher, but we have no proof that such a thing is happening here. The point is, we don't know the circumstances here enough to make any sort of incredibly knowledgeable answer, and therefore, I believe we should simply say that if the personality between the teacher and student is incompatible, then perhaps it is best to leave. That is only for the student to ultimatley decide, and jumping to conclusions based on one post doesn't help the student make that decision any better. Let's please be kind and logical to both the student and teacher who has no defence. To put it simply, we can't be sure of the man's teaching style. He may be wonderful to some students who match his personality or he may be a bad teacher. We simply don't know and shouldn't make unsubstantiated judgments.

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Well HS, a pretty low key response , certainly not high strung.

We're not sending him to jail. The young lady ( who now appears to be anonomus), is trying to decide whether or not she should purchase something from this fellow.

In her opinion he treats her as a child, and it seems safe to assume she's using the term in a pejorative sense, and that she dreads her lesson because of his treatment of her, it's a no brainer. Perhaps my words where harsh. But continue to give him money for these results, there's only one answer. No. That is not an indictment, it's a decision.

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Oh, I agree with you. If she feels uncomfortable, for any reason, she should not continue with the lessons. I'm only suggesting that we not take everything said for its entire worth, since many things are often taken the wrong way very easily, and that we not insult the teacher with unfair claims. It seems to be developing that he is some sort of cruel man, which is probably not the case. I do think, however, that we can all agree that if the student is not happy and the joy is suffering, changes must be made. Anyway, I was just trying to add a little objectivity.

By the way, fiddlefaddle, am I usually a "high-key" responder? Are you saying that I am OPINIONATED!!!! Shucks, I'm flattered (blush). I wouldn't assume anyone here even knew I existed!

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Of course we don't know you and we don't know the teacher.

What remains is that you must keep your passion.

Explain to your teacher or not explain to your teacher, I have no idea which is better. But to keep your passion --

there is the focus.

Find a teacher you can work with, even if you have to drive hours and hours, once a month.

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