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In Praise of Teachers

Krista Moyer

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Published: January 5, 2014 at 12:53 AM [UTC]

There are a number of beginners attempting to learn the violin sans teacher. Honestly, at one point, I really thought I would be one of them. My grandfather taught himself how to play on a violin from Sears. No one can tell me how well he did, so I only have the story to go on. My grandfather and his violin are long gone.

I rented a violin for about 4 months and purchased a copy of Essential Elements. YouTube was the resource I turned to to answer all my questions. At the end of 4 months, I still couldn't play anything with any satisfaction. Thinking the violin was not for me, I turned my rental in and figured it was never going to happen.

But I couldn't let the idea go. Several months later I started haunting violin shops and calling prospective teachers. Finally, the third individual I contacted decided to give me an interview, and he has been my teacher ever since.

At my first real lesson, he gave me something incredibly valuable. My teacher taught me how to draw the bow across the strings without making that horrible scratchy sound. It was magical. I almost cried. Maybe that's not a big deal to anyone else, but it was huge for me.

Over the past year and a half, he has given me so many valuable tools - how to hold the bow, how to practice each challenging skill, timing, music reading, what is the best order to learn a piece, how the arm, the wrist, and the elbow should move, and so much more.

I couldn't get those things from a book. Certainly there are books out there that cover it, but I needed timely and simple correction in terms that made sense to me. The speed at which things are absorbed increased exponentially with his guidance.

The best part is, when something isn't right, he knows exactly why. It's almost as if he sits in my practice room with me all week because he nails it every time. Moreover, he knows more than one approach to helping me understand how to fix it.

Everyone can learn, but not everyone can teach. Not only is my teacher a good player, he is a great instructor. I know I am often frustrated, but it is never because he doesn't give me what I need to succeed. It's because I don't have enough time to devote to applying the principals he taught.

So here's to all the fantastic violin teachers out there. Even if you don't hear us say thank you often enough, know that you are making a difference in someone's life. And to my teacher, if you ever read this - Thanks!

Posted on January 5, 2014 at 4:01 AM
As a passionate music lover who learned piano as a young child, playing flute, guitar... in my highschool/college days, and finally picking up violin alongside with my two kids's lessons. IMHO, violin is the last instrument in the world I would think can be be self-learned without a teacher.

From Laura Lyon
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 4:07 AM
Well said! I have the greatest respect and appreciation for my instructor and thank my lucky stars I found her right from the start. She is knowledgeable, patient, and has a bag of skills and approaches that she constantly draws upon to help me out. I know not all of them out there are this good and am all the more grateful for it.
From Bart Meijer
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 1:13 PM
Thank you for posting this, Krista. When I think of my teachers, there is so much I have to thank them for.
From Zlata Brouwer
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 2:39 PM
Thank you for this blog post!

It’s great compliment to teachers all over the world.

I am thankful to have had amazing and very different teachers and I am thankful that after all those years I am teaching myself.

There are three things I know I will do the rest of my life: playing the violin, taking lessons on the violin and teaching violin...

Posted on January 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM
Krist, a great post.

It set me thinking how we learn most things better with the (face-to-face,in-person) help from another person. The contrast between your experience and, say, the recent blogs between teacher/student who share Skype lessons couldn't be much greater. Granted 'virtual' contact is better than a book or video, but a real person in the same room is best still.

Thank you for sharing this.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM
Krista's post is spot on! Thanks for saying it so well.
From Rashmi Thomas
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 4:31 PM
This is a fantastic post Krista. I couldn't agree more, I am the person and musician I am because of the teachers that have shaped my piano, violin and briefly my flute playing over the years. Despite playing for many years, I am resuming lessons with a fantastic teacher in Johannesburg so that I can be further shaped and developed into the musician I'm supposed to be, if that makes sense? Keep playing Krista, music is a gift and we are so privileged to have it.


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