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Demoralised adult learner


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#1 Spirulla

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 10:04

I have 30 years' teaching experience - but not music-teaching.  I hope you teachers won't mind me seeking advice on this forum rather than on the one dedicated to Adult Learners.  I used to play the violin as a child  (only achieved Grade 3 so not great).  Recently I was given quite a nice-sounding European violin so decided to start playing again.  I play other instruments so can read music with a degree of confidence.

 

I found a local professional musician whose method was learning by ear which I thought would be interesting.  The first couple of lessons covered the basics and he said I obviously wasn't a beginner and was doing well.  From then on things have gone downhill.  I paid for an hour's tuition each week at the going rate but after all his faffing about I only got to play for about 5 minutes in total and wasn't given enough to practise for the next lesson (at the start of which he never remembered what we'd covered previously so often repeated things and spent some time "demonstrating" i.e. playing at length with embellishments).

 

After a particularly unhelpful lesson the other day I feel totally demoralised.  I hardly got to play at all.  I had no clear feedback and it took 30 minutes of irrelevant preamble before the lesson began but I was charged full price.  I feel like such a mug and my confidence in teachers has been badly dented.  I'm not usually such a spineless wimp but he's the professional and I decided to trust his methods.  Should I try again?  I am loving the violin but I know teachers make all the difference to improvement.  I don't have a lot of pension to waste.  Advice welcomed, thank you.


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#2 Aquarelle

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 10:23

Welcome to the forum.

 

I once had a shorthand teacher who spent most of the lessons demonstrating his extraordinary shorthand  virtuosity. We didn't learn anything. It sounds as if your teacher wants to spend the lesson demonstrating how good he is. This is not teaching and if this is the case my advice would be to find another teacher. I am also a bit suspicious about the "learning by ear" method. Perhaps he simply doesn't want to be bothered with all the nitty gritty of technique, reading music and so on. You can already read music so he probably hopes that just demonstrating how he plays will somehow do the trick for you.He seems to be using your lesson time to do his practice. I wouldn't pay him for that. Go elsewhere.


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#3 Piano Meg

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 10:57

Yes - try elsewhere... preferably with someone who has a teaching qualification, not just performance qualifications/experience - that should hopefully reduce the chances of having the same experience again. Possible qualifications to look for include DipABRSM or ATCL (teaching), CT ABRSM, teaching pedagogy as part of a music degree or a general teaching qualification alongside performing qualifications. Having one of those doesn't guarantee a great teacher, and there are plenty of good teachers without teaching qualifications, but if you're feeling demoralised by your experience, you might want to increase your chances of finding a 'good'un'. 

 

If you're interested in playing by ear, and you can find a Suzuki violin teacher who is willing to take you on (since you're not a beginner, and not a young child), they might be a good option for you - they have a lot of teacher training within their structure.

 

But don't give up - it sounds like this teacher (who might suit a particular kind of pupil... maybe!) is definitely not the right one for you!!


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#4 jenny

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 11:12

There have always been teachers like this, unfortunately. I personally know musicians who were allocated to such teachers when they were at music college and learned very little because their teacher just wanted to demonstrate. And they didn't feel able to complain because they were young and at very prestigious colleges. At least you've quickly realised what's happening and can now do something about it. I hope you find a much better teacher very quickly and that you enjoy your lessons. I also think you should let this teacher know why you're stopping in the hope that he looks carefully at his teaching methods.. 


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#5 Norway

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 12:08

What you describe above is not a lesson - I'm not surprised you are fed up. Definitely change teacher. You don't need an amazing player but you do need a good teacher - can you get a personal recommendation from anyone?


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#6 JD5

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 13:00

Yes, you need another teacher smile.png


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#7 Spirulla

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 13:58

Thanks for all your speedy replies, you have made such a difference already.

 

Update: I've taken your collective advice, done some more thorough research into local teachers and their qualifications etc, asked a trusted musician acquaintance for personal recommendation and have booked a trial lesson for a couple of weeks' time.

 

This morning I felt such a plonker for getting myself into this situation in the first place but your wit and wisdom has put things in perspective.  Thank you one and all.


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#8 Steven Carr

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 14:58

As a maths teacher, I have had students who just wanted me to demonstrate how to do one question after another for the whole hour. So this sort of teaching is clearly for some people.

 

But I wouldn't want it for myself.


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#9 jenny

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  • Stoneclough

Posted 19 October 2017 - 15:22

Thanks for all your speedy replies, you have made such a difference already.

 

Update: I've taken your collective advice, done some more thorough research into local teachers and their qualifications etc, asked a trusted musician acquaintance for personal recommendation and have booked a trial lesson for a couple of weeks' time.

 

This morning I felt such a plonker for getting myself into this situation in the first place but your wit and wisdom has put things in perspective.  Thank you one and all.

 

That's great news! Well done and good luck with the new teacher. smile.png


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#10 SingingPython

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 16:53

If you're interested in playing by ear, and you can find a Suzuki violin teacher who is willing to take you on (since you're not a beginner, and not a young child), they might be a good option for you - they have a lot of teacher training within their structure.

< puts hand up >

 

I'm a Suzuki teacher and have recently taken on an adult learner in a similar position to yours, albeit with a rather shorter experience of childhood violin.  So for us working from the very beginning is making sense and working well.  I'm asking her to memorise pieces as routine but not necessarily learn them from ear in the first place at this stage.  I'm enjoying being able to directly share all the stuff I've been working on in teacher training!

 

In order to play by ear you need, I think, to develop two main things - one is your memory, and the other is a good sense of fingerboard geography.  Playing around with finger patterns could be a lot of fun and useful.

 

Hope your next trial lesson finds you a good "fit" with a teacher - and if it doesn't, don't feel bad about looking around until you find it.


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#11 Spirulla

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 17:55

Thanks, Jenny, for your good wishes.

Steven, I can see that letting the teacher demonstrate ad infinitum is a great way for pupils to pretend they're working while actually achieving nothing.  I suppose even adult learners may enjoy kidding themselves in this way.  Thanks for your perspective.

Thanks SingingP - really knowing the geography of the fingerboard is an ambition of mine.


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#12 elemimele

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 20:32

<off-topic> Steven, can I ask, does it work (with maths)? I'm curious, because I feel that maths is very similar to music in that it's intensely practical and can't be learnt by sitting with a book - one has to keep putting the book to one side and trying it out, and the more practical messing around we do, the better we get at it. But maybe that's just the way I think, and I'm being unfair to students? With maths-deprived undergrads/post-grads in my not-very-mathematical subject, when they get stuck, I tend to just sit and watch them until they work it out themselves (they think I'm helping, I feel guilty I'm not, but the outcome seems OK so who cares?). Of course they're bright-but-not-mathematical, so they're a small subset of the human race, and what works for them might be completely wrong for others.

 

Spirulla, good luck! There is a vast difference between demonstrating a tricky bit, or showing a student what something should sound like, and merely allowing them to hang around in the background watching the maestro at work. The latter is not what I'd be looking for either. I hope your next teacher is a much, much better match to you, and what you - quite reasonably - expect!


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#13 jpiano

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 21:55

Demonstration has its place but the OP's example really doesn't sound like teaching to me. I've found that in training people in other walks of life as well as in piano teaching, there's really no proper substitute for showing them and then letting them do the task for themselves- lots of times if necessary. Plus, giving people the space in the lesson to work things out for themselves as well.


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#14 agricola

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 07:45

Showing how, good!  Showing off, bad!


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#15 polkadot

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 08:09

I paid for an hour's tuition each week at the going rate ... [snip] ... I don't have a lot of pension to waste.

I'm an adult student.  My weekly clarinet and piano lessons up to Grade 4 have never been more than half an hour.  I can't remember my clarinet lessons but my piano lessons are packed with good advice and I really have to concentrate.  Any more than half an hour would be overload.  It might be different for you of course, but you might consider whether an hour is really necessary.  I don't know whereabouts in the country you are, but £30 an hour is probably a minimum, which adds up to a considerable amount of money over the year, particularly if you're on a pension.

 

I agree with what everyone else has said about your lessons with this person and I hope you soon find a more useful teacher.

 

 

PS.  Welcome to the forum by the way! 


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