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Claire and Adam's Violin Lessons, Blog 1b (Adam)

Adam DeGraff

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Published: December 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM [UTC]

EDITOR'S NOTE: Violin teacher Adam DeGraff and adult violin student Claire Silvester are sharing their thoughts from their Skype lessons together in this series of blogs. Here are links to other blogs in the series: Blog 1: Claire's introduction: Approaching New Year - reflecting and resolutions. and Blog 2: Claire's question: Squeezing the Sponge

Yes, that IS that plan :-) First off, anybody reading these back-and-forth blog posts, will notice that Claire is far more eloquent than I. Expect my two cents to come more in the form of a reply and notes of clarification. My plan is to follow Claire's lead and really to just give you my side of the story ;-)

So, to follow suite, a quick run down on me and my background. I am a full time performer (classical, rock, improv) a teacher (small local studio, Skype studio, and workshops while I am on tour) and a farmer (small organic farm in Lewisburg, WV.) I am from Chicago where I benefited from some seriously awesome early teaching. (Gerardo Ribeiro, Joe Golan, and Ruben Gonzalez to name a few.) I went to Northwestern University (class of 96... do the math) and then to Rice for grad work. I won a job as principal second violin in the Richmond Symphony (Virginia) while still at Rice. I soloed often with the orchestra and was promoted to Concertmaster. Simultaneously, I was being encouraged by a number of larger orchestras and conductors to come audition/lead, but after 5 seasons of orchestral playing and a number of eye opening experiences, I decided that being an orchestral musician wasn't for me.

Skip ahead 10+ years... now I do a lot of solo work, tour a lot with my band(s) THE WEIGHT, The Dueling Fiddlers, and Pianafiddle, and have found a new love, SKYPE TEACHING. Why do I so love teaching via Skype? Because I literally get the best students in the world. Not knocking my local students, but when a student has to to e-track down a teacher and has the whole world to choose from, the teacher is getting a very cool, very determined student. A bit different than mom or dad dropping the student off every week. Oh, also, I can tour as much as I want and never miss teaching a lesson as long as my hotel, concert hall, or gritty music club has high speed internet.

Teaching via Skype is different though. You are forced to put things into words that perhaps you never had to before. You have to use analogies like never before. You have to pace your talking, instructions, and demonstrations differently. It forces you to become a more thoughtful teacher, which, has been very good for me... and perhaps my students as well. In any case, I just LOVE IT! The only down side besides not being able to physically adjust a students hands/fingers/neck etc..... you don't get to high-five or hug a student when they finally hit that home run.

Moving forward... I will say that I do not subscribe to any one particular "method" of teaching. I adapt my teaching 100% to the student I am working with. I often times hear myself say one thing to one student and a contradictory thing to another because helping a student become their own best teacher is really what it is all about. The teacher spends 1 hour with the student. The student spends 20 with themselves. So let's not forget who is THE most important teacher.

Finally, I chose to do this project with Claire because she is the most insightful student I have ever worked with. I encouraged her to do this because I think that anybody who wants to get better at playing the violin will learn a ton from her process. She is a kind woman. She is hard working. She is not afraid to try new things. And she is determined to unlock her own best teacher inside of her. I hope you all will encourage her to share her process.

Happy New Year to you all!

~Adam DeGraff


From Gene Huang
Posted on December 29, 2013 at 4:40 PM
This is awesome. I am looking forward to reading about the progress.

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