Potential Violin Student
I recently got an offer from a friend to teach an adolescent violin student. She took lessons, passed an exam, and because her teacher moved away, she hasn't played since the exam. I admitted to the friend that because I am not a professional musician, I would only accept students who can't afford lessons, don't live near a teacher, are studying in a group program, etc. I feel that I shouldn't have said this. She does have the option of finding another teacher, as they're plentiful in the area. However, I do understand that finding a new teacher that's a good fit can be a challenge, even if there's a bunch of teachers available. The friend hasn't told me anything about this after receiving this message. I am trying to get at why she has not bothered to find a new teacher. Unfortunately, I have no idea if I have hurt this friend or not, as I can only reach her by email. Simply put, I am very shocked by the situation. How can I tell my friend that I would love to teach her granddaughter but at the same time know why she has not bothered to find another teacher. Thanks for any advice.
What you said sounds quite reasonable to me. There are lots of people who don't understand why an amateur shouldn't be giving lessons, though, so your friend might have been surprised. Some people think that if you are three method books ahead of your student that's enough. Really, they do.
Paul, et al.,
Thank you both for your insights. Teaching as an amateur is the least of my concerns. It's just that I'd like her to study with a pro if at all possible. I am thinking of telling my friend that I would love to teach her granddaughter. I am hoping that this will be okay. At the same time, I would like her to study with a pro in the near future if the situation permits. Is this a good move?
I was an amateur and through attrition I became the "local violinist" and concertmaster of the local community orchestra for a number of years and taught violin (and cello) for about 40 years. I never charged much while I lived in that location --started at $5/lesson in the mid 1960s and continued at that rate for 30 years- as long as I lived in that area.
Hi Ella Yu
Nice to hear, everybody. I did not plan on giving free lessons, as plans have not been made yet. I might charge a small fee for them.
Ella, I think you have a very ethical outlook. It looks like you gave good advice, and I'm of the mind that really motivated people will go out and find someone. I wouldn't worry about why this person doesn't seem to be looking that hard.
@ Ella: If I understood, your main concern is the student's attitude. Why she didn't bother to play or look for a teacher. And the implication of it (because she doesn't want to play any more) is what has affected your friendship...
Ella, by now I hope you've been sufficiently calmed by all the above supportive responses. You asked:
On the topic of teaching and not being a "professional". It is one thing if you just learned the first song in an instruction book and completely different if you have a few miles on the instrument. On another note, one way for people to cement their own skills and understanding is in instruction to the less knowledgeable and skilled. A person at one level can teach another on a lower level, happens all the time.
I think there's a significant difference between teachers who have very solid fundamentals themselves, and those that don't. Note that even advanced players may not necessarily have great fundamentals, and that not every teaching pro is at an advanced level of playing themselves.
George I agree that there are always exceptional circumstances. I have one piano student even though I'm not anywhere near pro level in my technical skill at the piano. However the student wants mainly to learn how to improvise, and that is something that I do about as well as any of the other piano teachers in my area, at least, as far as I know. I had "the conversation" with his parents. Nobody went into the arrangement blindly.
Thank you all for your responses. I found Yixi's response to be particularly helpful. I have already sent the friend an email saying I would love to teach the adolescent violinist if need be after some long thought. The friend hasn't responded to me yet.
Ella, hopefully that is true, and this is what you want rather than what you think is right as it will be a lot more difficult later to severe the teaching relationship if it turns out that the child isn't a good match for you. If it were me, I think I would have said to my friend, "...I'd love to, however I don't know if I would be the best teacher for her, it depends on her goals, level and expectations. Can we first discuss the situation with her?"... and in the process find out if she did look around and if not why not, and lay some ground rules with both child and friend/parent that would set clear expectations and give me an acceptable future way out without affecting our friendship if it were to become necessary. You may know the saying:, never do business with friends and/or family! You sound a bit like you feel somewhat cornered into a situation you are not totally comfortable with.
Thank you so much for your response, Roger. I still haven't heard back from my friend, but hopefully, things are okay.
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