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HI, I was wondering what happens in a real lesson. i took a few lessons from a local college student, but i don't think she pushed me at all. she teaches mostly little kids so maybe she didn't know what to do with me. No etudes to study, concertos to learn, no plan for the week, not any kind of syllabus. I just played what i wanted, she sugested something minor and said "Good job". I want to find a teacher that gives me the same "torture" that others speak of. How does the Suzuki lesson go? Does the teacher play and then the student mimicks? Is it only one song at a time? how do they learn to read music? I'm just really frustrated because i don't know what to do to help myself. what is the progression?
I have suzuki book 1 and 2 and essential elements 1 and 2. (only just starting the second books) i don't know if i really qualify to be finished with book one. I'm just ready for something new.
12 Responses
Posted: July 1, 2011
Last Comment: July 5, 2011

Posted: July 5, 2011
Wow, I really should proofread my messages. Sorry for the stray letters and misspellings.

Posted: July 5, 2011
Karen, your list of goals you gave her was NOT 'cheesy', it was a VERY GOOD idea!

I did the same too when I went to my very first 'consultation lesson' with my current teacher. I handed over to him a list with 'what I would like from my teacher' and 'what my teacher can expect in return from me' headings on it.

he raised his eyebrows whilst reading it but he had a smile on his face, HE LOVED IT!

I knew we were going to be 'just fine' :)

thanks to the list I 'laid the ground' and we both knew where we standed, nothing 'hidden' and we started off on the 'right terms' :) so good for you for writing up your so called 'cheesy list', I think it's GREAT! :)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 5, 2011
You are right on spot, Simon. Best wishes for you, Karen!

Posted: July 4, 2011
That's great Simon. When i strated lessons about a month or so agop, i gave her a cheesy list of goals, short term and long term. my previous experience and what i thought i would expect from lessons. I didn't know what should happen so not sure what i can request or suggest should happen. that's why i asked what a lesson was like. was i gewtting what people usually get or should i be asking for something more. I have to know what i'm missing in order to ask for it. Your response is w=very helpful and thank you all for your responses. I thin iknow where my conversation will go now.

Posted: July 4, 2011

I think some teachers, especially young ones, can feel intimidated by adult learners and perhaps don't think they can push adults as much as they do their child students! However as adults we have learnt over many years how we like learn and we need to let our techers know what that is! If you don't feel you're getting what you need, why not say that? Does she know how serious you are or how much time you're devoting to practicing? Does she know why you've choosen to learn violin and what you want to get out of it? If she understood your motiviations would that help her plan better to meet your expectations?

I find lessons as an adult learner are more two-way between me and the teacher and are more collaborative than the relationship between teacher and child student can be. Personally I like to do a lot of work on my own and use my 'teacher' more as a 'coach' who keeps me on the right track and corrects things I'm doing wrong. That's not to say we don't follow a method (we use the Eta Cohen books) but rather than being 'instructed' in a 'do-this-now-do-this-and-this' kind of way I like to ask lots of questions about how a technique should be done and how it should feel and we have lots of discussions like that. It feels to me that she is coaching me along rather than instructing. It's difficult to put into words, but hopefully it makes sense!

A typical lesson would start with a 5 minutre scale sequence to warm up, going through major scale and arpegio, minor scale and arpegio (melodic and harmonic), chromatic, dominant and diminished 7ths all from the same key note. Sometime these will be open srings, othertimes starting in different positions. We then discuss how my practicing had gone during the week and what I was finding difficult which we'll work on for 10 minutes or so. We'd then review work from the method book before looking at the next part of the book and a related study. There's usually at least one other piece or some exam music we're looking at too and we typically finish with one or two duets. Some parts of the lesson I'll play on my own, others my teacher plays along too. I find this very helpful with intonation and pitching the notes if I can't hear the intervals.

For me, the best teachers are those who take time to demonstrate and explain techniques in a way that clicks home for the student; moves at the students pace (be that slow or fast); pushes the student as hard as they want whilst being supportive; and supplements method books with appropriate related literature to provide depth to the teaching.

The worst are those who treat all students the same; see the objective to learning as getting through method books and exams as quickly as possible and who show no real motivation for wanting to teach.

Bottom line is, if you're not getting what you need you need to discuss this with your teacher or find a different one. This is easier said than done if you've build a relationship with your teacher, but if you don't you'll continue to be frustrated and will probably be wasting money on lessons that you don't enjoy!

Posted: July 2, 2011
Thanks for those. i'll see if i can find some. I still have Violinlab. And its a great resource. don't know where i'd be without it.

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 2, 2011

Here comes the fun part, what I consider the subversive literature on learning a musical intrument. The books are more fundamental in scope, and not specifically addressed to formal lessons. I have found them all extremely interesting, and also highly challenging. Something to return to again and again, each time understanding and putting into practice a little bit more of the wisdom they offer.

  1. Eloise Ristad: A soprano on her head.
  2. William Westney: The perfect wrong note
  3. Victor L. Wooten: The music lesson.
  4. Susan Kempter: How muscles learn. Teaching the violin with the body in mind.

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 2, 2011

Here are some books on teaching and learning a musical instrument that also address adult learner. They are all in German, but I expect there will be similar books in English, too:

  1. Nicolai Petrat: Psychologie des Instrumentalunterrichts (Psychology of teaching a musical instrument).
  2. Tom de Vree: Über das Unterrichten (translated from Dutch) (On the didactics of instrumental and vocal music lessons).
  3. Anselm Ernst: Lehren und Lernen im Instrumentalunterricht (Teaching and Learning in Lessons on Musical Instruments)

I have found all of these helpful to form my own position of what I'd expect from a violin teacher. But in the end, as far as I know, it all needs to be negotiated between teacher and student.

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 2, 2011
Hi Karen, are you looking for some kind of standards or best practices plus some system of certification for teachers? As far as I know anybody can open a teaching studio, no formal qualification necessary. And institutions such as music academies might describe the desired outcome of their teaching but don't have any set curriculum or recommended methods. It all seems to be up to the individual teacher/student to address goals, expectations and methods.

Posted: July 2, 2011
Well, whilst there is no 'rigid' model for a lesson as a teacher will 'mould' to the student and adapt the lesson to what the student needs, there is of course a more 'general' approach many teachers will follow I think....

I think a lot of good teachers (especially those teaching college students) will follow a model of spending half of the lesson concentrating on technique and half on music.

technique being your studies/etudes, concentrating on left hand and right hand development.

teachers will pick and choose from a variety of books to help the student with this and some of the most famous ones are: Wolfhart, Kayser, Kinsey, Sevcik, Kreutzer, Mazas, Dont, Flesch, Galamian, Schradiek, Bartok to name a few.

From these mentioned I am at present using with my teacher: Sevcik (4 books from sevcik), Kreutzer (1 book), Galamian (1 book), Flesch (1 book), on my own I am also using Kayser. You will NEVER find a college/conservatoire student who does not use these books mentioned, I think it would be 'heresy' LOL LOL

then the other half of the lesson you would spend on music, if you are a more advanced student a piece should be a 'concerto' :)

I think many good teachers will do this in a lesson, spend roughly balanced amounts on technique/music and 'sandwich in' the theory/aural, sight-reading immediately just comes in, for example when I do a new piece my teacher just gets me to sight-read it :) (that is one way, but I also randomly sight read at home).

Posted: July 2, 2011
That's the kind of "torture" i was talking about. someone to point out when you're out of tune, or you should stop and do something again. As for a model for teaching, there has to be some kind of guide or process. What do they teach in College for Music education? Not everyone will be the same, what is the basic idea. not to just say oh, good job. no one would get any better. i'm not planning to audition for the big symphonies, but i don't want to make anyone run screaming and i don't want to play little kid ditties either.

Posted: July 1, 2011
ooooohhhh this is a topic I love :) there is NO template for a 'real' lesson and there is NO 'model' for an 'ideal' teacher I would say, 'generally' speaking for adult learners. I think it is a whole different 'ball game' for conservatoire students and all that.

that is because the 'best' teacher for YOU is the one YOU will get on with ultimately (as an adult learner) and you can communicate with and the one who 'gets the best out of you', coupled of course with loads of teaching experience and a flexible teaching approach.

It is difficult as a total beginner to know if a teacher is a 'good teacher' if you don't know absolutely anything about the violin and music, in fact I got 'fooled' myself and I took lessons for the first 2 and a half years with a man who was a very nice person to be with and very charming but unfortunately did not teach me ANY technique nor any intonation and it's only by my own natural inborn talent that I got where I got to! (honestly, I am not trying to sound 'big-headed' here).

All he ever got me to do was to play nice tunes, nothing else, never explained to me about any of the technique, never told me if I was out of tune. After 2 and a half years when I learnt enough by myself to realise what was happening and that 'there was more' about the violin I confronted him and asked him if he was willing to teach me any technique and also to do studies/etudes with me, when he refused, I decided to change teachers.

I am the type of person who wants to be taught the violin 100% the same way as a growing young professional would be, I want to be taught all the technique properly, I have high expectations and one day I want to play all the repertoire out there including all of the Paganini caprices (why not? LOL), so I looked for a teacher who was willing to teach me 'seriously' and I found one.

The teacher I have now and have had since 2 years ago teaches all levels of people and also teaches the professionals and he also has violin teachers going to him for lessons. I do one hour a week with him and he is extremely strict, if I am half a millimetre out of tune playing a note he will stop me immediately and make me do it again, when I started lessons with him I am not joking he would stop me on every note I played, it would take me the WHOLE lesson just to play TWO BARS! I come out of my lessons exhausted as he really makes me work hard both physically and mentally, he incorporates theory and practice at the same time, so if I am playing he'd stop me and ask me: what are you playing right now? a fifth or a sixth? what's your next double stop? is it a tenth? then he would make me check my tuning in thirds and fourths and so on, he really demands me to be on my toes all the time! he does not follow one method, so he does not follow a book or suzuki etc, he is very 'old school' as he studied with the russian pedagogue Sascha Lasserson who was a pupil of Leopold Auer (teacher of Milstein), these are all famous Russian school violinist if you know of them, so he uses methods of teaching handed down from them and he makes use of Flesh/Galamian and Sevcik Kreutzer and so. He makes me play in all positions all over the fingerboard, there is no limit only the sky LOL he gives me LOADS to practice but nothing for 'next week' sort of speak, all stuff I have to practice I have to practice on a rotation basis 'forever' (to keep up the skills) I am doing some demanding pieces so I only do one or two pieces at a time.

He is a teacher who makes me work as hard as a conservatoire student but that's the teacher 'I want' so it's perfect for me, I wouldn't want anyone else. It took me a long time to get used to him, I can honestly say I only just got used to him now after 2 years, I even did think/question if I was with the right teacher, but now I know I am, I couldn't be with a better teacher. Then of course after reading this you will all think: if you can't have a better teacher then why am I here? because you can never stop learning and nobody 'knows it all' and nobody 'knows it all'

I have learnt things from Beth that I have not learnt from my teacher. Sharing knowledge is POWER I believe.

We can always learn from each other.

Beth is GREAT <3