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Kate Little

10 Reasons to Study with Multiple Teachers

September 30, 2015 17:20

Studying with a single teacher is the norm for private instrument instruction. However, there are situations in which it can be beneficial to study with multiple teachers.

GEOGRAPHY: If your work or family living arrangements require spending significant chunks of time in varied locals, limiting access to the primary teacher, having a 2nd teacher in your alternate location can provide for continuity of lessons. Likewise, if the primary teacher travels frequently, possibly because of performance demands, a second teacher in town can help provide continuity.

This is a fiddle.

This is a violin.

GENRE: If you enjoy varied styles of music, it can be useful to study with an expert in each, for example: jazz and fiddling. Similarly, if you wish to have a solid grounding in classical technique, but wish to pursue a different genre, it can be useful to work with both a classical teacher and a genre specialist.

HANDICAP: If you struggle with your instrument and need additional support to master basics, a 2nd teacher can provide additional lessons focused on one element at a time, e.g. bowing, scales, etc. If your ensemble is particularly challenging, a teacher could help you prepare for rehearsals.

DEPTH: If there is not enough time in a weekly lesson to cover all of your material in depth, and you seek depth of feedback, and your teacher does not have time to see you more than once a week, a second teacher can provide opportunity to work weekly on all aspects of study – sound production, scales, etudes, repertoire, ensemble material, audition material & etc.

POINT OF VIEW: Different teachers will have different styles of teaching and means of expressing themselves. When aimed at the same learning problem, this provides multiple ways to work on a solution, creating greater depth of understanding and mastery.

CURIOSITY: If you arrive at lessons bursting with questions and observations from your week’s practice, and there is not enough time to cover both your questions and the instructor’s lesson in depth, than a 2nd teacher could be useful in covering auxiliary queries, while the regular teacher attends to the progressive lesson plan.

RE-CYCLING: If you wish to re-study and master at a higher level material which you have previously studied, it can be useful to do this with a second teacher, while continuing to progress at the leading edge of your abilities with the first teacher.

THOROUGHNESS: Different teachers will notice and focus on different deficiencies in your technique and playing, thereby allowing a multi-dimensional development of your abilities.

2 replies

To Spin Out Sound

September 3, 2015 07:19

In music, everything is conveyed through sound. Rhythm, intonation, phrasing, style, music– none of this can be detected unless sound exists first. Like clay for a potter, or marble for a sculptor, sound is the material with which a musician creates. And how does she create sound? By spinning it out.

What does this mean, “to spin out sound?"

Think of a thread being spun from a spinning wheel. What are the qualities that a useful thread will have? It will be long, continuous, even, smooth, solid, and without defect. It will be reliable for whatever purpose it is meant. So it is with elemental sound. A good musician can create sound which is long, continuous, even, smooth, solid, and without defect: reliable. How easy is this to do on the violin? Not very.

Typical flaws include crunching, scratching, pitch variation, airiness, gaps: Problems due to tension and lack of coordination in the bow arm. Training the bow arm to create reliable, beautiful sound takes a good ear, good feedback, and practice. Lots and lots of practice. In the end, like anything well made, sound production can be neither mentally directed nor forced. Reliable sound that can be formed into a musical piece is created with a relaxed, well-coordinated right arm that responds seamlessly to musical thought. It happens by feel.

(This essay was woven from ideas articulated in a lesson given by Utah Symphony violinist David Porter.)

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