Violin Teacher as College/Post-College Recommendation
Hi all! So I'm thinking of having my violin teacher as one of my character recommendations for a non-music related degree. She's been with me for a long time, and I feel like she knows my struggles, and my growth in the community orchestra I'm listing as my extracurricular.
Is this tedious? Am I putting her at an awkward spot?
As long as the college accepts non-academic recommendations, it should be fine. I think most teachers just want to see their students success in whatever way it may be, and I know most of my teachers were extremely happy that I asked them for rec letters. At the very least, you would be letting her know how much you trust her as an instructor and how important she is in your current career, so I don't really see a reason why you wouldn't ask her--except do check to see if the colleges you want actually accept rec letters from non-academic teachers because I know a handful that don't.
Following up on Yixi's comments (with which I agree), if you're talking about an undergraduate college, it's probably fine. Individual departments generally do not review undergraduate applications. For a graduate degree, you want someone who will speak directly to the specific aptitudes required for that type of degree. I have never seen an application for a graduate program in chemistry accompanied by a reference letter from a violin teacher.
I frequently write recommendations by request for my private high school students who are applying to college. It makes perfect sense; usually I have been working with them for years, far longer than any single high school teacher except possibly an orchestra director. I can speak to their work ethic; to how they respond to criticism, frustration, disappointment, or success; to their ability to make quick adjustments; to work with others...you get the idea.
AFAIK, most colleges do like to see at least one recommendation letter from someone who has known the candidate in an extracurricular context; for many students that's an athletic coach.
Thanks for all your input! I’m looking to apply for an MBA degree. I guess they are slightly different from the “hard” sciences since they look for a more multi-dimensional or wholistic growth. They do recommend one professional, and one outside of your profession. I have the professional one covered, but am searching for the extracurricular one.
Mary-Ellen, forgive me if I might come off as insulting. Is it more difficult to write a recommendation for someone who pays you directly? I don’t want to have the teacher feel like she is obliged to write me a recommendation since I’m th paying customer, as opposed to a parent paying for a child’s lessons. The parent and teacher have a partnership, while the child is the disciple.
You're definitely overthinking this.
What an MBA program is looking for in letters of recommendation will be different than what undergrad programs are looking for.
I guess it all goes back to what Yixi and Paul mentioned earlier as well.
For graduate school, I'd probably pick someone else who can speak to your qualities as they relate to the specific degree. Picking a private music teacher seems a little immature--as if you don't have any real-world work experience, which is what an MBA program would look for.
No one reading MBA applications will care how well you play the violin if it's not at a professional level. They don't know or care whether or not a community orchestra is considered a "challenging" one. They do care about the degree to which you've demonstrated actual leadership. Getting involved as a pair of administrative hands that helps the board is nowhere near as useful as being, say, the orchestra's treasurer, or organizing and leading some initiative for the orchestra.
It's possible that the MBA program just wants a character reference. But I have a suspicion that, as Lydia says, they really want something that has to do with business.
It took me a while to get used to the new environment, find a job, etc. The US is such an extroverted society, it's like jumping into an icy pool.
Carl, are there other former supervisors or senior volunteer colleagues who could write the letter? Someone who has an MBA, works with MBAs, or has experience supervising people in corporate or other settings?
If I recall correctly, my sister used letters of recommendation from her piano teachers both for her undergrad and MBA applications.
Okay, I’ll look around more. You guys have convinced me against that route. Better to hear it from a forum than from a rejection letter!
P.S. do you guys know what’s in that title-less discussion?I’m so curious!
How funny, I emailed Laurie to ask the same question. I can't see the title or click it open but obviously some can since there are (as of right now) nine responses.
Well, here (in the US), children play as a sign of achievement (or at least that's the common Asian kid who plays violin or piano). Adult amateurs play as a hobby.
We were talking about this too in my orchestra. But even if you hate it like I did growing up, if you get yourself deep enough in this "hobby" as a kid, it's like an itch that you can't get rid off. And yes, I agree. Ensembles are full of nice and interesting people.
In my experience, there are many Asian kids who play for enjoyment, and many non-Asian kids who play for achievement, or to learn work ethic. I knew some of each personally. It's unfortunate there are these stereotypes, but OP should be aware of them, as they can affect how he is perceived in admission decisions and job applications.
I do apologize for the stereotyping. It's just that cultural differences become apparent when you're in a different country. But beyond that, of course, the individual comes out.
Carl - nope, I don't work in admissions. I also apologize if I gave off that impression. Just have been involved in discussions about it in other places.
Oh no, not at all. Since your comments very relevant, it made me wonder whether you were from an ad committee. Thank you!
The title-less discussion has quickly evolved into a discussion about how to get into a title-less discussion, and about notifying Laurie ad infinitum.