First and introduction: I’m a late starter. I was 30 when I first started to play the violin – the long wait is another story – suffice it to say I did not have the opportunity to get an instrument and lessons when I was young. That is important because I want to assist others who, due to financial or other issues cannot get lessons when they first realize that they want to play the instrument. My profession was (I’m now retired) was Operations and Supply-Chain Management. I’m now approaching 70 and have taken lessons and played in local amateur orchestras with a 12 year period toward the end of my professional career of no playing or instruction where Bell Labs had me on the road 80% of my work time. I no longer take lessons as my goals now are to pass along what I have learned as well as play for my own enjoyment.
Two years ago we were asked to pick-up the neighbor’s children from school. One of them was carrying a violin case so I asked him to come over and play for me. He was excited to find and adult who played. My heart sank when I saw the way he held the instrument – straight out from his chin directly in front of him, left had flat and holding the bow like a kitchen spoon. (The music teacher in the school was enthusiastic but clueless I later learned.) I asked him: “Do you want to learn how to properly play that instrument?” His answer was an emphatic “YES!” So, I took on the task of teaching him. (I can hear some of you cringing.) Fortunately, the method I was taught (Doflein) is still in print and I ordered the first book and we started lessons. He developed pretty fast and I got him an audition with the local youth orchestra (Lakeland Youth Symphony Orchestras - there are four graded orchestras).
Last spring he played the Rieding Op. 35 as his audition piece for the next season and he moved from 2nd chairs the most junior orchestra to 1st chairs in the next orchestra. He is doing well and I still have things to teach him although I can see the day on the horizon when I will have to pass him along to a better teacher. He is well into book two of Doflein as well as learning third, half, and second positions. Together we are working on the Mazas duets Op. 38 just for development and fun.
I don’t charge for these lessons – I don’t want a transactional relationship. (I do accept gratuities from the parents if/when they care to do so.) I do expect the parents to purchase a good instrument and set aside at least part of what they would have had to pay so that they have the cash for better instruments and future lessons that will cost them money.
Here is my problem: I want to get one or two beginners with a similar desire and bring them along. However, the school system has a new head of the music program who has killed the string introduction classes. As she is also the director of the HS bands, she gave me a flat-out opinion that she considers any student that doesn’t play a band instrument but plays a string as a lost band member – she won’t help me find that next fourth grader (Doflein requires a slightly older student than Suzuki). She considers me her competition.
So, how to get the word out that there are two scholarship offerings available? I was thinking Churches, social service agencies,… Any suggestions?
I’m doing this out of love for the instrument and the conductors of the youth orchestras (all professionals) are well pleased with my teaching skills. Unfortunately the LYSO is based on a Suzuki program and the parents there only want Suzuki method (also they tend to be very well off – only my student comes from a less affluent family). So please try to avoid being critical of my lack of conservatory training. My academics are formidable but not in music.
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