abusive (Russian) violin teachers
Back in the 60's, at a very young age, I studied at a highly prestigious music school with a Russian violinist. Enough time has passed, that not only has he passed away, but so have all those in his generation of teachers. My lessons often included getting smacked over the head with his bow, being told angrily, I had miles to go and had made only an inch of progress, etc. I concluded my teacher was probably a nice man who had a fierce temper. Not practicing enough, no doubt, fueled his temper. But I am not the only one who studied with him at a young age and had these experiences, as I have compared notes with a few others. Anyone else out there who had a similar experience?
I never had such a teacher but I would not describe someone teaching in that way as a "nice man." I realize times change but there were wonderful teachers in the 1960s who did not find it necessary to abuse their students. Very sorry you had such an experience.
I had an internationally known piano teacher in the late 90's who some did call abusive. I sent 3 friends to her - 2 lasted 1 lesson, 1 two lessons. They were fools. I knew what the 'abuse' was about. I stuck with her for many years, in fact I was with her the day she died. The world lost one of its greatest pedagogues!
My first teacher threw me into a chair when I was 8 or 9 (in group class). My 5th teacher made me cry at age 14 when I asked a question (no physical abuse, he just yelled at me for "talking back to him"). Both of those teachers were very impatient with me in general.
yes: somewhat abusive
Same here. My second piano teacher was abusive but not Russian.
I have been fortunate to never have an abusive teacher. Incompetent ones yes, but never even remotely abusive. I think the angriest one has gotten was slamming her hand on the piano for me to tune and mildly raising her voice in a stern manner after I had made her angry during the conversation we had as I got my instrument out. If I remember correctly, the conversation had something to do with me not liking an aspect of how she ran her studio class and being especially stubborn in my opinion.
My violin teacher is Russian. He is one of the kindest, most gentle people I know.
I've had 3 teachers so far, none of them were aggressive in any way, not even one day. Well, one day my teacher was angry about something that was not related to me, but her anger kind of touched the ambient of the class of that day. But it's just human relations, not everyday is fine and happy.
I feel like this is a bit of a stereotype about Russia and Russian things - that they are rough and sometimes backwards.
I've never had an abusive teacher, but several incompetent ones: I consider myself self-taught. Have I ever been abusive? Not really, but there have been a few students that I didn't work well with an I should of requested they find someone else to teach them. Teaching gives me a high; after teaching I usually feel really good, and only 1 out of 20-30 students is a negative experience.
I had a Russian violin teacher for a little while. She was super supportive and quite funny, never abusive. I had several emotionally abusive Chinese school teachers in Shanghai where I grew up. It was during the "cultural revolution" so I think a lot of them were really messed up in their personal/political life and they took it on the kids. Terrible to experience such things but many of us survived. I hope you will let it go.
As an instructor, I'm persistent with technique, without ever escalating my temperament. I always speak calmly and try to smile, regardless of the advice I'm giving. I do this in response to an insult, just as much as a I do it in response to someone doing a very good job. It's important that the students don't feel they can affect you emotionally as an instructor, since they will begin to take advantage of that. Of course I get very frustrated internally at times, but I make sure that the students never detect that whatsoever. It's pretty often that kids get frustrated when learning a new skill, but as instructors its our job to NEVER reflect that frustration back at them. They're already frustrated at that point, so we don't need to add to it.
My keyboard teachers were sweet older ladies, that never raised their voices, good teachers, though. not Russian, either.
Getting frustrated internally is bad for you.
I really don't think controlling one's emotions in the presence of a student (which is what Erik is talking about, and in which I agree with him) is going to harm anyone.
"of course I get very frustrated internally at times, but I make sure that"
My very first teacher was an old russian lady. After playing my first few bows she said, I got talent, so she is gonna make a player out of me.
The teacher I studied with in the 1980's was from the other side of the "iron curtain". He was the nicest person I know.
"Getting frustrated internally is bad for you"
To clarify, and I don't think this is where Scott was going with his comment (which I also agree with) but evidently I don't seem to be expressing myself clearly:
Haha, the ritual with my teacher nearly every week is that she says something positive, after which I say: "but...?". Then she enumerates everything that needs to change. Praise is almost an indicator that some more serious improvement points are coming.
Teacher's can be really effective by being demanding when they are doing so in a way that supports the student and give's the student an idea of a path by which they will profit by diligent work. There's no place for abuse, whether it be physical or mental. It won't help the student progress and is really just an expression of a teacher's problems.
I somehow enjoy working with instructors who have ridiculously high (or maybe not--maybe they're just hard to please and I'm just not at where I'm supposed to be; probably that) expectations because I hear "you're so good you should be a music major" wherever I go. Had it not been for my teacher, I probably would have made the mistake of settling myself for professional music. It also feels better when someone understands that you have room for improvements and tells you what you really need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear, you know? Because no one in the past eight years of my playing has told me my bow hold was really bad or that I looked awkward on my instrument or that my intonation was horrid. I feel like it's easier to understand your strengths than to see your weaknesses and I would rather have teachers tell me what I lack.
"you're so good you should be a music major"
Bud Scott: Drinking's bad for me too, but I do it anyways.
Why isn't everyone both deùmanding and
"preferably without smacking me on the head with the bow."
Not Russian, but.... I had a college theory professor who, when he was a grad student, went to France and had a score-reading-at-the-piano class with Boulenger (I forget which sister). Any wrong note was met with a ruler severely rapping the knuckles on the student, so much so that the students started to instantly pull their hands away from the keyboard if they made a mistake. Boulenger would indicate to the student(s) to put their hands back above the keyboard and would bring down the ruler with a "whack" across their knuckles. Ouch!
I had a famous Russian teacher as a teenager. I came
Couldn't agree more, Frederick.
There are excellent musicians who should not teach.
I agree we need strategies to help students from getting frustrated. I don't think getting frustrated ourselves, whether we think we show it or not (how would you know anyway?), helps no one.
The reason why I quit violin at the end of 6th grade (for two years) was because of an abusive orchestra teacher. Nothing that hasn't already been talked about in this thread - pretty standard bullying/belittling and singling out, then demanding that I miss advanced academic classes for orchestra practice - but it was enough to turn me off playing until I was able to get to high school and have a different teacher (where I ended up a returner for the first time, oy). The teacher was not Russian, and I think only recently retired...
Lol Adrian, are you talking about the "out-wrist" on the left arm? If so, I'm thinking you must mean 45 degrees?
I should have said a "wrong-angle"...
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