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Emily Grossman

Violin Teacher

September 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM

I am a violin teacher. I'm the person you call when you decide to venture into the world of stringed instruments and want to know what to do next. Or maybe you called me because your kid won't stop bugging you with their dreams, and you know it's what any good parent would do. Maybe you didn't get to take lessons when you were a kid, and now you're your own boss, and the time is right, and you're just brave enough to take the role of a student, even though it's been twenty years since you had a homework assignment. Whatever the reason, you came to me, and I'm glad you did.

I am a violin teacher. I'm here to make your dreams come true. Maybe you wanted to play in Carnegie Hall; okay, I can't promise you that. But I can promise you that you'll find that I can make a musician out of you, the kind that plays because you like the sound of it, because you enjoy expressing yourself, because it's a safe retreat from the rest of the world's cares and troubles. I can promise you that. But only if you trust me enough to follow me there.

I am a violin teacher. I'm here to show you how to succeed. But you're going to have to work for it. I might ride you if you don't practice, or if you don't follow instructions; I do have sharp spurs, and I know how to use them. But I'd prefer not to. Yes, you will have to put a lot of effort into taming this wild horse before you can call it your own, but there's joy to be found in the discipline, and if you're not careful, you might find yourself making ludicrous statements, like, "I like playing scales" or "The etude this week was fun." It's been known to happen. But only if you practice.

I am a violin teacher. I have lots of expectations. I expect you to ask questions if you have them. I expect you to at least try. I expect you to tell me if I can do anything else to better help you. If you don't communicate with me, I can only guess about what makes you tick, how you think, or what your likes and dislikes are. So go ahead, tell me your favorite color, your favorite composer, your favorite candy bar. (Go ahead: you earned it!)

I am a violin teacher. I'm very experienced. Trust me, whatever musical problems you struggle to overcome, I've been there myself. I will never give you any advice that I haven't had to follow myself a thousand times over. So, you never have reason to feel embarrassed about mistakes or put on the spot when you sight-read. Don't worry: I've been in your shoes. I'm not perfect, just a problem solver who's a little further down the road.

I am a violin teacher. I teach because I want to infect other people with my passion. I know, I'm a little obsessed, and sometimes it's all I talk about. So, I apologize if I get a little too excited about things like intonation, and the genius of Mozart, and Baker's magical rosin, and the superior qualities of wooden wind-up pendulum metronomes. But think about it: who else do I get to share my excitement with? You came to me for lessons, but I took you in because I need a few more string players in my life, and you're the perfect candidate. You hang out with me, and watch out: I'll make a violinist out of you.

From Randy Walton
Posted on September 18, 2013 at 11:42 PM
You sound like a really cool teacher! Who could resist this invitation to sit under your tutelage? Those Alaskans better appreciate you; I especially like the statement, "I'm not perfect, just a problem solver who's a little further down the road."

From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 2:11 AM
Haha, thanks! Unfortunately, it's the "not perfect" part that some people apparently have a problem with. ;)
From Roy Sonne
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 2:45 AM
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 11:00 PM
How I wish I could write like you do, Emily! Will you make me a writer if I study with you?
From Janice Teruko Temple
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 10:57 PM
My reply to "I am a Violin Teacher". I play and taught the violin too, but could never express this as well as you. I love your article. Excellent job!
From Karen Collins
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Do you teach adults? Do you teach them the same way you teach kids? Do you have the same expectations for them, and do you allow them to dream also?
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 20, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Of course I teach adults! I teach a father and his 3-year-old daughter, and the lessons are individually tailored, but the same principles are applied, regardless of age, talent, or intellect. He takes home his lessons and plays with his daughter, and by being her teacher at home, he both releases himself from the inhibitions that tend to shackle grown-ups, and reinforces his own understanding of concepts by explaining them to someone else. They make a beautiful team.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Excellent post! You are the violin teacher we all search for. Keep up the good work.
From Randy Walton
Posted on September 20, 2013 at 5:44 PM
Re: "being perfect vs. being a problem solver"

I can see the problem solver being a lot more useful to a student than someone who is 'perfect'.

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