V.com weekend vote: What is the longest time you've studied with one teacher?

June 5, 2022, 5:07 PM · Lately we've had a number of stories about how to handle saying good-bye when you leave your teacher, but very often, a violin, viola or cello student stays with the same teacher for quite a long time!

violin teacher

Learning the violin is certainly a long-term project - it's not unusual to be taking lessons for a decade or longer. Some students spend quite a lot of that time with one or two teachers, and others switch around quite a lot. For me, I think the longest I ever stayed with one teacher was about six years, and the shortest was one summer (between years of college).

You can get quite a lot from a teacher during one summer, and it can be nice to have a combination of the long-term teacher and the occasional program with a different teacher, to get a different perspective.

During my time at Indiana University, when the violin department was chaired by Josef Gingold, the teachers had a sort of agreement: they would send a student to such-and-such to fix your bow arm, then work on Bach with so-and-so...It was okay and even recommended for students to spend time with various faculty members and take advantage of the fact that they had special strengths and interests.

What is the longest amount of time that you have spent, studying with one teacher? Was it continuous, or broken up by periods of time with another teacher or stopping the instrument? Have you mostly stuck to a few long-term teacher, or have you switched teachers frequently? Please participate in the vote, and then tell us all about it. And if you are a teacher you can tell us your thoughts about having students for long periods of time as well.

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Replies

June 6, 2022 at 12:30 PM · Speaking from my personal childhood experience, where I stayed with the same teacher for 11 years, my suggestion is that staying with the same teacher for more than, say, 3 years is a very bad idea UNLESS you can verify or calibrate the quality of your experience by significant, frequent, and objective means. For little kids this process has to involve the parent getting into the weeds. Nowadays "only one teacher in my locality" isn't even an excuse because the internet has shrunk the globe.

June 6, 2022 at 02:52 PM · I started with Alice Joy Lewis but only had about 2 1/2 years with her before my family moved away; I then studied with the wonderful Doris Gazda for eight years, from third grade through 10th grade. How fortunate I was in my childhood teachers!

Most of my students start with me sometime in middle school and stay with me through high school graduation, but I did teach one student from kindergarten through his senior year of high school. That is my record as a teacher.

June 6, 2022 at 05:05 PM · I had my school teacher in Year 7 (6th grade) not year 8, then 9, 10 & 11. Other than her, I have switched teachers privately a fair amount of time for a number of reasons, namely accessibility for me as a non-driver

June 6, 2022 at 05:14 PM · I might have had the same teacher for 6-8 years but don't remember (elementary and middle school). High school was in a different state and I had one private teacher (3-4 years). My record as a teacher is one student who was with me 9 years and another will make it to nearly 10 if we get through senior year of high school. Half of my current students have been with me 3 years or more.

June 6, 2022 at 06:47 PM · 1-5 years here. I had six violin teachers from the time I was a kid till I finished school. My time with each one was continuous - about 2 years each with three of them. All of them had valuable pointers on how to practice and how to get the sound I wanted. Getting their different perspectives was a definite advantage.

June 6, 2022 at 08:28 PM · I took violin lessons from age 5 to 18. Since my father had a job that moved us around quite a bit, I had 8 different teachers in a 13 year period, each lasting no more than a couple years. My list of private teachers, in chronological order: Paul Landefeld (started in 1974), Mr. Lockhart, Mr. Gershengorn, Ms. Arnette, James Maurer, Ron Erickson, Anne Crowden, William Kennedy (ended in 1987). I still keep in touch with my first and last teachers.

June 7, 2022 at 12:52 AM · 16 months with my current teacher, who is also my first regularly scheduled teacher after 20 years of mostly self-teaching. Before last year, I'd only ever had three lessons spaced out over three months in 2016. I didn't stick with that teacher because I never had a regular lesson time; she had no evening or weekend openings, and I was working during the day, so for each individual lesson I had to wait for someone else to cancel or find a workable time when I could get away from work for two hours.

When I was a kid, I did take piano lessons for 12 years. I had three piano teachers, for 3, 4, and 5 years respectively in chronological order, with both changes being forced by someone moving. My first piano teacher was a kindergarten classmate's mother in the American expat community in Dubai; when my teacher's family moved away I had to switch. The second change was the result of my family moving back to the US. I was fortunate that all three were excellent teachers (especially seeing as all three were literally the closest piano teacher available); the last teacher got me to the point of earning a DipABRSM in piano performance in December of my senior year of high school.

June 7, 2022 at 04:09 PM · I had the same teacher during junior-senior high school,--six years. After that I had 4 teachers, all less than two years each. Two of those teachers did not "click", I stopped after less than one year.

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