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I Love My Adult Students!

November 5, 2010 at 8:15 PM

So I have three adult students this year, first time I've had any since college--can I just tell you how much fun that is?  Don't get me wrong, I love my first graders and my junior highers and all the rest too, but there is just something about adult students--maybe because they are choosing to come back to the instrument and already have goals and drive to succeed.

One of my students is actually my orchestra accompanist, and the mother of one of my third-grade students.  She had played before, and sat in with her daughter in her first years of lessons, and is an accomplished musician already in her own right, but wanted to come back and get the violin going again.  Learning the music is easy for her; making the bow behave is the challenge but she comes back each week with better mastery, and she was excited to discover last week that she can play by ear on the violin -it's one of my favorite moments when that ear-finger connection clicks! 

Another is a friend from church--she too has played before, although the connection is slightly more challenging.  She is a perfectionist but also a very tight player, and it seems like her former teacher was fairly demanding but none of the technical skills became one of my challenges is to actually help her loosen up-she actually has a hard time believeing me when I tell her she's doing something right!  I don't feel like we've quite hit our stride yet as a teacher/student combo, but I think we are both seeing improvements in her playing and we've been able to start working toward her goals of being able to play hymns in church.

My newest is a true beginner to the violin, though not to music--her grandfather was a fiddler, and she inherited his violin, and wants to learn to play it to connect with his memory.  We had our first lesson this morning--went for an hour, learning to hold the instrument, learning the strings, holding the bow, and finally starting to play.  So far we are only plucking and bowing open strings, but we were able to start on our book of duets which has a mix of traditional and classical pieces with a super-easy part for very beginners, then a slightly more advanced melody line, of course the level advancing as the book goes on.  She asked if I had music for "Turkey in the Straw" which was the tune her grandfather was known for playing.  It was indeed one of the later pieces in the book so I turned to it and played it for her.  As I finished she was almost in tears because it was so special to her.  If that is not rewarding, please tell me what is.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 2:13 AM


I'm so happy that you are having a fun and fulfilling time with your adult students.  Being one myself, I like to think we add an interesting flair to an otherwise dull teaching day - from connecting with certain pieces in a way kids can't, our drive to succeed in what we set out to accomplish, to pushing the boundaries of what we can do to see where our limits are, and then pushing them a bit further.

From Julian Stokes
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 9:50 AM

My teacher is amazed, when we're working on a piece, that I will go onto the internet, to the library and find out as much as can about it, the composer etc. He says that his child students just don't do that.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Julian, I think my teacher thinks that too...  As an adult, one can talk about violin related things: repertoire, famous players, violin makers, concerts, recordings etc. Here are a list of good things I think adult students have

  - this "self drive" thing. 

- We're not there because someone forced us to go there. 

- We don't want to take everything passivly without really understanding. 

- many amateur adults are just so grateful to actually play violin (even if not perfect) and don't take anything for granted.   

- They know what it is to miss music, they realize all the sacricfices everyone and themselves did to have access to this. 

- They don't assume they'll always play well and be the center of attention (the little "star"). 

- They don't do this for attention or money

- They have to fit practices on their poor little free time where they should actually rest. 


Because of this, I would tell very humbly that passionated adult amateurs are very close to what is called the "true" unperverted love of music! 

We so often hear teachers who think adults are boring and hopless... thanks!!!  Adults can do great things if someone beleives in them and enable them to do so (with = chances as a kid). 


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 9, 2010 at 3:13 AM

I teach beginners, and many of them are adults.  I love teaching them, too.

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