Comes a time when we have to decide to end old associations, or as Thomas Jefferson wrote In the Declaration of Independence, "...dissolve the (political) bands that have connected them with another..."
In my case, I had to make the decision to leave a teacher with whom I had spent several years, for whom I had a great deal of respect, and to whom I felt I owed a great deal. But as I was no longer learning from him, whether his fault or mine, the relationship was no longer productive, and so after a great deal of soul-searching, a particularly bad lesson, and more than a few tears, I made the decision to find a new teacher.
I admit that I have not always been the best student. I am, at times, lazy. Practice takes a back seat to other concerns in my life - not just the ordinary concerns of a wife, mother and grandmother, but also a woman with MS who is determined to live life and do more than spend it closeted with her violin!
Therein, I think, lay the problem. I tried a number of times to explain to my teacher the limitations imposed on me by MS - the lack of balance, the impaired ability to judge distances accurately which is so important for shifting, the difficulty coordinating and controlling my hand movements. He seemed to lose patience with me, not willing or able to accept that some things take me longer to be able to do because of these problems. I'll grant that perhaps I used them as an excuse not to try as hard as I might have otherwise - but my inability to execute them as perfectly as he demanded was no less real.
After accusing me of fighting him every step of the way, of challenging him, of disrespecting him, and telling me what a horrible student I am ( I left in tears) I decided that our student-teacher relationship was no longer beneficial for either of us.
It's been a huge relief. I had grown to dread my Wednesday lessons, where I had always looked forward to them. Practice had become a grind,as I always wondered if I was covering the right material to suit him for the coming week; was I focusing on the right thing? Repertoire? Scales? Etudes? What would he want to cover the most next week? I could never be sure. If I guessed wrong...the lessons themselves were torture as he would stop me every few notes with a new criticism, coming so rapid-fire that I couldn't keep up with all that he was telling me, and he wouldn't let me write it down. He was frustrated that I wasn't making the progress he expected of me, but I was never very clear just what he did expect.
I have a new teacher now (I didn't think I'd find one so quickly). And I will be playing in two weeks for my local chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs with my old teacher, my first teacher. She hadn't heard me play in years, and at our rehearsal last weekend, she was really impressed. We're playing the first movement of the Bach Double. I was really glad to hear her say that, because she is a really good violinist - did her undergrad at Rutgers, her Master's at Ball State under Neil Weintrob (formerly of the American Piano Trio, who has recorded for the Musical Heritage Society).
My new teacher is wonderful and I am very comfortable with her. She is a graduate of CCM and is very positive, very good. My confidence is coming back, and I feel I can move forward at last. Spring is here!
More entries: March 2010
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