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Teacher, Instructor, Professor, Coach ???


CountryBoy
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Does a list of violin instructors exist with reference to their more accomplished students? I am interested in finding someone in the Missouri, Illinois, or Indiana area and am willing to travel the distance and pay the price for the very best.

My daughters’ current teacher is absolutely awesome and I have no intention of removing her from lessons; however her teacher is gearing her more to the fiddling side of the violin and I’m afraid that will mean the development of bad habits. She is constantly tapping her foot for example. Unless I am mistaken, this would be unacceptable in the classical performances.

If anyone would like to make a personal recommendation, feel free to email me directly.

Any help that you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

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I might be all washed up but I thought I read the U of Indiana had an awesome music program. I study guitar (private lessons) at a university and am quite impressed with the music program there. Those college kids blow me away with their playing (piano and violin as well as guitar)

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Depends on where/how far you want to drive. Many of the really talented kids around here (Indy) study down at Indiana University -- Mimi Zweig is very successful with the pre-college crowd. Butler University in Indianapolis also has an excellent faculty. They may not work with very young students themselves, but if not, they would definitely know which teachers in the Indiana area are successful with little ones. If Indy is a convenient drive for you, I could also recommend orchestra members who teach -- just drop me a PM and I'll send you their contact info privately.

Chicago also has any number of top-notch teachers, if that's an easy drive for you. I'm not sure which teachers take young students themselves, but at any rate, I'd start by contacting the best and working down. The Chicago Symphony, or the Chicago Music School at Roosevelt University, or the music school at Northwestern would be good places to start for recommendations. Ilya Kaler teaches at DePaul; he or his wife, Olga (also a violinist), would also be people who could refer you to good teachers in the area, if they don't take very young students themselves.

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Quote:

Do you know what's he like as a teacher and person?


Only by reputation, sorry. I've only been introduced to him on a couple of occasions. I know his wife, Olga, a little better -- she's tremendously sweet, very outgoing, and an excellent musician as well. She played with the symphony here as a sub/extra when Ilya taught at IU, and did some freelancing around town. I was disappointed to see them relocate to Chicago. Kaler was a big asset for IU, and I've heard only good things from his students.

What's a little funny is that I sat next to Ilya Kaler during part of the last Indianapolis violin competition, purely by accident. This was before I was introduced, and I spent a good part of the evening thinking, "Gosh, that looks a lot like... suppose it's really him?" It was.

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My daughter's "hero" Liesl Schoenberger attends college at Bloomington and had been taking instruction there for several years before she became of college age. Actually this was my first thought, but I was leaving my options open before committing.

I have been told that Liesl actually attended instruction at Bloomington for 8 hours every Saturday in her younger years which is particularly nice due to the fact that her father had to drive so far to get her to lessons. My drive will be approximately an hour shorter than hers.

Thanks for all of the great suggestions.

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I understand that every local university etc. will have good instructors, but I am honestly looking for the very best and as I stated before I am willing to drive the distance and pay the price to get just that.

Just because I am willing to pay the price doesn't mean that I am rich and can afford extravagances, which honestly I am not and can not, but that I feel I am making an investment in the future and I want to make the right choice the first time.

Thanks for your reply and I assure you that I am not counting anyone out including the local teachers. I feel that my daughter will continue to go to her current teacher until something life altering happens simply because it is her teacher that keeps the spark alive in my daughter’s ongoing interest in playing the violin. The decision to get to get an additional instructor was mine as I feel that there may be something to be learned from someone that will teach her classical violin as well as the “fiddle” that she is learning now.

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In St. Louis

There are many good teachers here.

Webster University Community Music School

Also many of the most talented students in the area take from St. Louis Symphony members (several of them teach privatly incl. David Halen and Amy Oshiro) although I don't know of anyone under the age of 12 who studies with them. Many (including myself) also take from the quartet in residence at the Universtiy of Missouri St.Louis .But I don't know that they'd take very young students.Arianna Quartet

In Chicago, I know that the Vamos's have pre-college students but I think that they are all quite advanced before they come to them. Someone else could probably tell you more.

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Looking for the very best what? Teacher or player? It is often the case that the best players cannot teach. In my small but serious experience in this, your best bet is at a University or Conservetory. There you will find people who love to teach who also happen to love music as opposed to people who love to play violin but need to suppliment their incomes with giving lessons. In my case, (with guitar) I chanced upon a nationally awarded musician who just so happens to love to teach and perform so he hangs around a college for the past 20 plus years in order to do both.

It's kind of hard to pick out the right teacher as you are learning. I developed an interview process just like I do when I hire someone at work. It worked really well for me to do this.

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If the foot is banging like a percussion section, BAD. If the foot is allowing your daughter to develop an internalized beat upon which to subdivide rhythm patterns and sight read them accurately, VERY VERY GOOD. Most good sight readers do tap the toe INSIDE THE SHOE. Have you conversed with the present teacher about her goals for your daughter? If she is teaching only fiddling it would be neat to introduce other styles. Mimi Zweig is terrific.

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I have to say that my daughter does very small tapping motions and generally only when there are areas of a specific song that she is having problems with timing. Dotted quarter and dotted eighth notes really gave her fits for a while but now she can do them without the tapping whatsoever. Sixteenth note runs seem to bring the tapping out no matter how long she practices them, and when she does figure 8 bowing in fiddle songs she really goes crazy with her foot bouncing up and down but I think it is more for the benefit of her backup players and making them aware of her tempo changes during specific songs. In her version of Orange Blossom Special you would swear that she was going to put her foot thru the floor.

I have spoken with the teacher about specific goals for my daughter. Perhaps I am just getting ahead of things a bit considering that she is only 7 now, but I am really afraid that if she gets too far into "fiddle" style that she will have to relearn, or worse, unlearn things that she could be working on now.

My daughter has no problems sight reading simpler pieces, without ever having heard the song before, and has actually developed the ability to sight read and play double stops at a somewhat slower tempo but without stopping. I realize that this may be a little trivial, but I feel that I have to mention it. "Wabash Cannonball" is probably child’s play to most people that frequent this board, but it does have a a full section of double stops; several dotted eighth, sixteenth, eighth note patterns; and about four areas of sixteenth note runs. The first time that she saw the sheet music was Tuesday morning, she played the song the first time at a tempo of about quarter=100. Within an hour she was at around quarter=240. I should mention that she tapped her foot throughout the entire song and that she has heard the song before at fiddle contests.

I am definitely going to have to do some research on this Mimi Zweig as her name keeps coming up.

Thanks for your reply.

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Our state music teachers' association ranks the teachers. You might inquire there.

Personally, I believe that one needs not look beyond one's immediate community for great teachers. Our little community (pop. 70,000) is ninety miles away from a major urban area. Yet this year's high school graduates include the state winners for solo & ensemble on violin and viola (--from different local teachers, btw). The violist can be described as a prodigy: this spring he performed a Brahms sextet with Itzak Perlman in Carnegie Hall. He's one of the best in the country & received scholarships to every conservatory he auditioned for (opting for Julliard). Yet he has studied with the same local teacher for since he was five (a Suzuki product, I should note).

J.

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I will look into the state’s music teachers’ association.

You want to talk about little communities? The town that I live 4 miles south of has a whopping 650 population and the one I live 3 miles from has a population of 200. We have to drive 11 miles minimum to get to a town over 5,000 and at least an hour to get to a “little community” of 70,000 people.

It is great that you have such talented youth in your area, and it is quite impressive that the “prodigy” studied with a teacher of the Suzuki method. I was told to stay away from that when we were looking for teachers for a teacher for my daughter. Apparently it isn’t such a bad thing.

Like I have said in previous posts, she will never leave her current teacher due to the rapport that they have developed and the fact that her teacher was labeled a “prodigy” in her day as well, (you should see this trophies that she has displayed in her studio, from state champ down to “favorite accompanist” at the state fair at age 8), but I feel that there may be more out there as far as classical violin goes.

Thanks for your reply.

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If your daughter will not leave her current teacher, then it seems to me your choices are limited. Obviously, the best choice is to have the teacher gently begin to introduce more classical technique and pieces into your daughter's repertoire if she can. If she cannot, then you need to have her work with you to figure out how best to get your daughter the classical training she needs. While I agree with the previous poster that two teachers is not a real good idea, I am not sure it is unworkable. I do not know enough about fiddling to know to what extent fiddling and classical technique are compatible, although I assume on some level they must be. HOwever, it may require finding a teacher with whom the current teacher is comfortable.

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Pat. I'll do more than elaborate just a little. Here is my "step by step guide to finding the right guitar teacher". I wrote this up as a service to a guitar community but I think the Principles still apply.

http://www.kfisherx.com/Guitar/HowTo/StepByStepGuide.doc

btw: The links are broken to the tools but if you want them they are in this directory

http://www.kfisherx.com/Guitar/HowTo/

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My daughter is a student at the IU String Academy - Mimi Zweig's program. Here is the web site: http://www.indiana.edu/~yvp/index.htm

Many students travel long distances to participate. We live an hour away, and we're one of the close ones! The program serves highly gifted students, as well as community children. Standards are high. The program includes private lessons and group classes (theory, ensemble and masterclass solos) each week.

There is a policy handbook (it's on the web site) that states that String Academy students may not study with another teacher concurrently without permission. Within the String Academy program, students take private lessons from one teacher, and the class from another. I would think that it would be very confusing to a young child (or anybody!) to follow directions from separate sources. I sincerely doubt there'd be time to prepare for both sets of lessons, too.

String Academy holds auditions in August for the coming school year. The prices listed on the web site are per semester, and the semesters match the college calendar, not the public school calendar.

I'll be happy to address any questions, or direct you to someone who can get answers for you.

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Hmmm, I hadn't thought that it would be such a conflict of interest and although I will consider the point that you have made, I truly hope that you are mistaken. If you are not then I guess that I will just have to insist that her current teacher spend more time on the classical pieces.

I assure you that the amount of practice time that she puts in would very much appease both teachers. Although I have 3 children at home and our schedule of different music lessons, contests, competitions, tumbling, riding, sports, and other commitments may not allow her to have her violin with her all of the time, but when she is at home I would guess that she gets a minimum of 3 hours practice a day on the average. On the weekends this number increases dramatically. This changes completely thru the school year, but that is another story.

My feelings of an additional teacher are to address her technique and expand her musical repertoire to include classical pieces. Do you believe that if two different teachers are teaching 2 different kinds of music that it would be a problem? Do you as well feel that 2 teachers teaching different instruments is a conflict? She plays piano too, but spends far less time on it than she does on the violin. Her violin teacher and piano teacher are two different people. She has also displayed an interest in playing the harp but doesn’t have a good enough grasp on the bass clef at this time to justify her starting lessons. When she does start on harp it will put a third person in the equation and then comes voice lessons making teacher number 4.

Thanks for replying. You have put a new spin on the entire issue.

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Her current teacher is absolutely awesome and I would never think of removing her from lessons.

You feel that I should work with her current teacher to establish a plan for the future instead of searching on my own for an additional teacher to address the issues that I have voiced here. That makes a lot of sense.

Do you think that maybe I should be looking more for “camps” for young violinists, if they exist, than to find an additional full time teacher for my daughter? Do you feel that the instruction offered in this type of environment would allow close enough supervision to address minor issues of technique? Generally speaking, if someone points out something that could be improved on concerning her playing my daughter will make it her mission to address that issue. For example, one of the judges at a talent contest Tuesday night gave her a score her 8.5 out of 10 for talent saying that she was a “little jerky” in one of her songs, “although she is quite young.” Other comments on his paper praised her timing, intonation, interpretation, fingering, crescendos, accents, etc., etc., but the one thing that stuck with her was the “jerky” comment. Both of the other judges scored her a perfect 10 for talent. I imagine that she has played her medley of 5 songs over and over at least 100 times and finally came up to me tonight and said, “Daddy, I think fiddle songs sounds better jerky.” I told her that I did too. Maybe that is one of the technique differences to which you question, but I cannot say for sure.

Thank you for your reply.

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