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I'm not too strict

Emma Lily

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Dear fingerboard friends,

I am a beginning teacher. I teach beginning students. My ideal teacher is a virtuoso with a Romanian accent who outlines your practice regimen ("Practice these things six hours every day"), demonstrates occasionally (enough to keep you practicing those six hours in awe), and expects you to do better than you expect yourself to do.

My ideal student is me (except for my current lack of practice time and natural virtuousity): ask many questions; always want to play more advanced repetoire; know lots on music literature, history, and theory (on my own research); assume I am studying to be the greatest violinist in the world (aim for nothing less) and doing everything I think would be good; respectful of my teacher and listen to whatever she says or does; able to laugh at myself (and lecture myself afterwards).

Need I say that neither this beginning teacher (10 months) or her beginning students are living up? Particularly in requiring practice regimen. This varies for every student. Right now I am happy if they practice every day the pieces they are assigned, and I show them the proper technique to play with. I leave some details to themselves and their parents.

I think I may be too nice.

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Too nice!!One can never be TOO nice. If your too mean, your students may opt to take up fiddling wink.gif, which in that scenario would be "more fun'

please forgive me, I am being sarcastic BUT, your Romanian ideal teacher would starve in today's world.

I assume that many of your students are young(you don't indicate that.)

Your ideals of each role are good. keep your ideals, but be flexible, and give the customer what they want, unless it's incompatable with your ethics.

I'll bet your a good teacher. smile.gif

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Upfront, I'm an adult student. I'm assuming your students are young (or older too?);

Unfortuately ideal and reality are seldom the same. I think students, like people in general, will run the gamit. Some will have a burning desire to play (me), some because Mom/Dad said so, some because of a "requirement" by the school music program, and a host of other reasons.

I think my teacher, who teaches at a local music store, adapts her teaching style to each students level of commitment. I usually get to the store for my lesson early and have seen over time (schedule changes) a number of her younger students. It is obvious which one's are "into it" in terms of practice and playing.

Others, like the one I'm thinking about just now, is generally late for her lesson, doesn't sound like she practices much (overheard her Dad say, in a polite way, that she should practice a little more). I maybe wrong, but seems that her Mom, who waits most of the time, is the one who wants her there.

My teacher gently prods her to practice more but like the old saying about a horse and water, she can only prod so much. So, I think, the teacher gives her challenging material for her level of commitment.

Beside dropping the student or that the student will eventually get "into it", this may be the best a teacher can hope for.

I hope not, but that maybe the reality.

Anything thoughts from the other teachers here? I think I've seen the "what makes a good student/teacher" thing here and in the archives before as well.

[This message has been edited by mthss (edited 10-26-2000).]

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Drawing from my own experience in teaching, you do have to adjust your teaching style to the different personalities and goals of the students you are working with. It was hard for me to realize that not everyone who was studying with me did not want to be a great, or even a good pianist or violinist. Most are studying music for their own enjoyment; not preparing for careers as professional musicians, but to be the audience and amateur musicians of the future.

Through musical training, these individuals may come to an appreciation of music and an understanding of its relevance to their lives.

But this does not mean that you have to lower your own standards of excellence... please don't! In time, your students will adapt (or not smile.gif) to your teaching style and requirements. And, hopefully, they will be inspired to achieve a higher standard and level of commitment.

I try to remember that you can be firm and pleasant at the same time.

Also, keep in mind that with the great variety of parenting techniques in use, "commitment", "perfection" and "persistence" are sometimes not part of the vocabulary. shocked.gif

As fiddlefaddle said, "your Romanian ideal teacher would starve in today's world."

My piano teacher's teacher in Russia used to pull the piano bench out from under her students. I wonder how many outraged parents and lawsuits you would have on your hands if you tried that in the States? laugh.gif

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Why do you think you may be too nice? I, too am happy when my pupils practice what I assign, but it's what you do when they DON'T that determines whether you're too nice.

Being mean doesn't help matters, but after years of fighting the urge to be sarcastic when a student CHRONICALLY doesn't practice, (and this is after you've exhausted telling them EVERYTHING you can about how to work on the things you've assigned, and they've come in for several weeks in a row having done NOTHING at home), I've been known to take their money and tell them to go home and practice, and I tell the parents what's happening and why. If I see it looming, I tell the parent the week before that it may happen, that way, they are less likely to get upset with ME about it. It's better than becoming sarcastic, and it addresses the issue. It seems to work pretty well, too (for awhile anyway).

I would like for all of my pupils to come perfectly prepared each and every week, but that doesn't happen. I'm not sure if it does with any teacher. I do have certain students who come prepared most of the time. They are a blessing!

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Emma Lilly, what country do you live in?

I live in the United States of America. Here, kids are heavily into violin but heavily into other things as well. This requires the violin teacher to be flexible but still demanding - my students practice as much as they NEED to master the basics and progress.

If I were learning violin, I'd rather take lessons from somebody like YOU than the Romanian virtuoso you mentioned (I actually know a few folks like that from Romania).

Contrary to what people believe, enforced drudgery does not produce true lasting greatness - which is why today's state of "modern" violin playing is the way it is.

I think things will get better if you stop comparing yourself to the "ideal" (which isn't that ideal for producing greatness).

Instead, focus on how to make you and your students better from an INDIVIDUAL standpoint.

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Indeed, I am reminded of a Romanian violin teacher that I had as a child. smile.gif

By all rights, my teacher should have dropped me during the very lengthy period I was unenthusiastic about playing -- there was an entire year when I didn't practice at all, or only practiced for an hour the night before my lesson. I continue to be grateful to him for having doggedly kept at it.

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Don't knock Romanians! I simply meant, someone who has teaching figured out and tells you what you need to know about practicing and repertoire; I've had teachers who left things like that to my own judgement,when I needed someone to tell me for sure (leaving me subject to my frequent indecision, switching pieces three weeks before competition). The Romanian accent is just for impressive value.

HKV, I live in the US near a small town in which my students live(age 6, 9, 10, 10, 12, 16, 30ish); no string program in the school, great lack of exposure to classical music and performance. And of course they have other interests, and the inner drive to play music is up to them, not to my regimen for them. But, I sometimes realize that I'm the main source of violin information these

people have, and it scares me.

Specifically (what grief a lack of precision causes), I fear that my students don't take me as seriously because of my youthful and eccentric appearance, and occasional hesitancy/indecision. I fear that I lack conviction in teaching; that I am not as productive a teacher because I hate to tell my students to do anything. I am becoming more convinced that success on the violin requires the will to rearrange one's entire life. I can't even tell my female students to trim their fingernails!

Of course, I don't want to be a dictator, but I want to have a resolution in teaching that I won't have for several more years. I'm

already helpful, and encouraging, but I don't have the personality or the teaching habits to inspire my students to extraordinary hights. I've met people who had that effect on me; not that I believed every word they said, but people whose love for music made them sure what to do and how to teach. I needed that; I don't know if I could provide that for someone else.

I think I can't tell my students

1) playing violin can be emotionally and physically the most demanding thing you've ever done;

2) you have to keep motivated, somehow, even if you're convinced you stink;

3)sounding beautiful on the violin requires fanatical devotion that will separate you from friends and family;

4) buying the instrument you want or will want may cost more than your parents ever dreamed, but you should do it anyway

[This message has been edited by Emma Lily (edited 10-27-2000).]

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I think you need to distinguish the things you ned to play professionally, vs. what you need to be a contented amateur. Amateurs need not devote excessive time to practice, buy expensive instruments, etc. They DO need to keep their fingernails short, and devote some reasonable amount of time to practice (certainly 15-30 minutes a day).

I admire those with the patience to work with beginners.

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Emma, my wife comes from Bombay, India and is a piano teacher and the daughter of a piano teacher. The teachers there teach primarily on the "old romanian" plan. They follow the English Royal Schools syllabus, complete with yearly exams by intinerant English examiners. They flog the life out of their students getting them to polish to a fare-thee-well the few pieces per year that are on the exam syllabus. Result: a handful of students who have gone on to advanced study abroad, and a heck of a lot of people who, having passed their grade 8 exam as kids, never want to touch a piano again as long as they live. High standards are one thing, but this kind of result is indefensible by any standard.

We've seen similar stories about childhood violin study from members of this board- who were lucky enough to rediscover their love for music as adults (many are not so lucky.) I'm with HKV- if, and only if, children enjoy studying music will they be genuinely motivated to do their best. Sounds to me like you're off to a good start and will only improve with time and experience. But I see from my wife's work that it takes the patience of a saint- even if I felt qualified to teach the violin I don't think I could ever make a go of it!

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