Feedback culture in violin lessons
Merry Christmas to everybody!
I am in my fourth year of private violin lessons (in addition I did a bit when I was a kid). To get a good education/basics I try to follow the lead of my teacher and I have learned to hold my firework of ideas and pieces I adore at bay.
I get along with my teacher really well and for sure I am getting a lot of feedback every week.
But the ocean of violin technique and repertoire is more than wast from the perspective of a (starting) learning adult.
I am probably somewhere sailing over the beginning intermediate waters learning Haydn g major. In a way it feels like that’s all I know, the repertoire and the technique I am working at. Sure, I am reading a lot but still it is hard to figure out, what the next three years might look like.
Is there anything like sitting down once a year and talking about the bigger picture in violin lessons?
I do not care about getting confirmation of how good I am and that I will play Bach S&P in the near future. It’s more like getting a picture of a general concept that will help me to understand where I am and what the next steps are.
Why do I not just go ahead and ask my teacher? I am an engineer and I know that I can come across rather upfront. If this kind of feedback is not part of the violin lesson culture I do not want to irritate anybody.
I hope that makes sense.
Are you giving/getting more general feedback once a year?
Any recommendations? Have you been in the same situation?
Thanks a lot
I think the world of adult students is multifaceted. If you want information, suggest it to your teacher.
Do you feel like you are stagnant?
Eva: As a former violin & cello teacher of both children and adults I would tailor my interactions with students to the student. Several adult beginners came with aspirations way below their potentials - some so low (z.b., "Amazing Grace," or "Ashoken Farewell") that we were able to gets past them in the first few lessons. Kids come with a fairly open agenda - they want to learn to play the violin (period) not having any idea what that means and it is the teacher's (and their parents') to get them keep at it.
Hi Eva, I am an adult learner who returned to the violin about 11 years ago after a long absence. The kind of general discussion you are describing does not happen automatically and in general, I think it would not happen unless you ask for it. It is a very reasonable thing to ask and as adults we do not have any of the (sometimes unwelcome) markers of progress (auditions, competitions, etc) a child or teenager may have. Maybe an easy way to broach this with your teacher: while you are putting your violin away say something like you said in your question here--that sometimes you find the world of the violin overwhelming and could you spend a few minutes at the start of your next lesson talking about what you could expect for the next 3 years. That will give your teacher time to think about it beforehand.
I don't think there's anything wrong with talking to your teacher and setting some goals for the upcoming year. However, I do think those types of milestones can possibly encourage students to rush through technique in their haste to go on to the next thing on the list. All good teachers will have a plan for what knowledge, techniques, and skills you need to acquire, whether they tell you about it or not.
I have not had this sort of conversation with any teacher, though I wish otherwise. It's been my impression that discussion of goals and direction happen for kids - especially college- or conservatory-bound kids - but is just "not done" with adults.
Thanks for all your recommendations and ideas!
During the intermediate years of learning, it's easy to come adrift in having no idea where you're going or how long it's going to take to get there.
Lydia, imo ironically what you said last -rhythm- and counting to me is usually the MOST important technique an aspiring chamber musician needs to work on.
I sometimes think that my biggest deficiencies as a musician come from having played nearly zero second violin.
Kan, I have 60 min lessons and we always play a couple of minutes duets or for example the Haydn with me first violin and my teacher second. Playing duets she shuffles me between first and second violin. Also with easier pieces I haven’t seen before. That helps my sight reading and rhythm/ counting abilities. The later once are my week point.
Sometimes I have these conversations with my violin professor, during part of a lesson where I'm less prepared. I do find, though,that it's good to warn him in advance, z.b., "this week I want to talk about my progress and my goals for the coming year." That way he's not caught off guard and can even prepare a little himself for that. I have an excuse to make contact, though, as my lesson time is variable and always needs to be confirmed.
Eva, I hope you let us know how it worked out.
I'm about to do this at my lesson tomorrow ... wish me luck guys..
I'd be curious what the teachers on this forum think of such discussions. :-)
Lydia Leong: "I'd be curious what the teachers on this forum think of such discussions. :-)"
You are paying him/her. It's your dollar and ultimately you have the decision and right to take the lessons where you want to go. Most private lesson teacher-student relationships do go further than the basic exchange of goods and services and it can be hard to bring up something to 'jeopardize' this 'friendship' esp. if we're talking adult to adult or if the teacher had crazy credentials and can be intimidating to an adult student!
Due to the holidays I have a break for two weeks.
Follow Up (in case anyone cares to know):
Thanks Frank! So I will make sure to send a mail or text in advance.
bravo, Frank! I am still hemming and hawing on how to bring up the subject, even in an email :-)
Eva, about that graded list. Haydn op 20 is mostly "2" but trust me it gets hard. Those numbers don't correspond to Suzuki books!! 5 and 6 is virtuosic material for sure. So don't feel bad if you're at 1 for a while. Real chamber music gets hard. Of course there are simplified arrangements of show tunes and the like too.
Today I had my first lesson after the Christmas brake.