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Jasmine Reese

Confessions: I Learned From a DVD...

January 16, 2008 at 4:58 AM

Well, not really...

The recent thread,You Can Learn From a DVD partly inspired this blog.

As much as I love and all the other online, video, dvd, tape, and cd aids out there, I must say I can not wait to get back to my real life, in the flesh, violin teacher at the college. A whole month without her has taught me the negatives, as a student violinist, of only using the above mentioned aids. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy all the advice that I receive from this site and all the techniques I learn from other guides, but there are three reasons why a "in the flesh" teacher is better.

First, and a more obvious reason as to why a "in the flesh" teacher is better is because of a little thing called discipline. If I just left it up to myself, I would have already played every concerto known to humankind pretty darn poorly. I would have skipped to DVD number 10 on my first lesson and then tried to go to Carnegie Hall to talk to the managers about when I could get my first performance date. I would not have been self-disciplined, and I was homeschooled, so I know a thing or two about self-discipline, but because I love the violin repertoire so much, I just would not have been able to refrain from playing everything I have heard. So, it is a good thing I have had a teacher right there to smack me everytime my eyes and hears started to wander to off limit areas...

Secondly, when I visit a site on the internet or read books, I start to gain an unrealistic view of professional violinists and life as violinist. It is the same way a child will idolize a pop star and make them out to be a God or Goddess. is pretty good about portraying the real lives of violinist and the violin career path, but many sites are not. (However, I cannot help but think that Buri is the god of prunes...) With my in the flesh teacher, I get first hand view of how a violinist really lives his or her life. They are normal people, despite a wonderful gift, who need to make money, who have husbands and wives, who get angry and cry, who have off days in their violin sound. When I see my teacher being a human, with human imperfection, I am further encouraged to pursue my dream because I can relate to him or her. Whereas on a dvd, the teacher always sounds nice, and what they say is scripted and not from the heart. I hate those videos that say, "You are doing great!" when they don't even hear you. How do they know I got that bowing right??!! Can they see me? In that case, that is some scary stuff.... Furthermore, I do not take the video person's comments to heart because I have not built a true relationship with them. (Or I start to believe the "you are doing great" comments and end up looking like those bad singers on American Idol, except for, I'll be auditioning for Julliard.)

Which brings me to my third point --I love the relationship I have with my teacher. She makes me angry, mad, happy, jubilant, sad, energetic, and much much more. All those emotions are what I need to play music. In the flesh teachers foment musicality. My old violin teacher was from El Salvador. I learned so much about her culture and her life here in America. She and I became great friends. I went to her house for dinner and watched her little children. I saw her being human and at the same time, being human to me and with me. Through human experience, I can give my music the human quality--I can even add a little culture to my sound, heaven knows, there was never a day when I would go to her and El Salvodoran music would not be playing. Although, I put my teacher on pedestal because she is a great violinist, and teacher, who, I might add, can play classical, jazz, mariachi, hindu, and pop violin, she never made me feel hopeless. In fact, one day I was so discouraged because of visiting so many violin sites, and seeing that all the violinists had started at three or newborn, and they were so great, I just wanted to quit. But it was my in the flesh teacher that made me realize that they were human and they all played because they love the violin and I should do the same. If I get discouraged while learning from a dvd, will the dvd person be able to encourage me to keep going? No, in the end, it will be a "in the flesh" family member or teacher.

I start school on Tuesday, so I will not have to suffer too much longer. The teacher I have right now is so wonderful as well; she can get a little grouchy. But hey, like I said, I need that pure unadulterated emotion in order to play musically! :) Oh, but the yells and screams...I cannot wait.

This blog is in no way intended to bash or put down DVDs and so on, I just am warning against letting the above mentioned REPLACE a private teacher. I like DVDs and other aids as added information for what I already receive from my teacher.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 8:37 AM
Probably the best reason for having an "in the flesh" teacher is that he/she watches and listens to you and can give you good, helpful feedback. I wish you fulfilling experiences with your new teacher.

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