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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you ever cried, or had a student cry, at a violin lesson?

November 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Have tears flowed at the violin lesson?

Whether your are the student or the teacher, it's always a little awkward when the lesson draws tears. Combine the great effort and concentration that it takes to play the violin with the fact that music is inherently emotional, and this can be a formula for frustration, feelings coming to the surface and at times, tears. Sometimes the emotions from a bad day are coming to the surface, and sometimes, quite frankly, a teacher drives the student over the edge! Of course, everyone's edge is located in a different place -- changeable from day to day.

Emily's blog this week made me think of this topic -- her student was frustrated by what she perceived as worsening of her intonation on Bach. In all likelihood, she had a new awareness, and it was only her higher standards making her feel inadequate. There's no getting around this kind of tension; it's part of the growing process. But sometimes it just hurts!

Have you ever been on the point of tears, or had a student on the point of tears, in a lesson?

From Michael Divino
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM
No, but I've been close.
From Tasha Miner
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 4:59 PM
I've cried and I've made students cry.

When I've cried, it's been both because of a feeling of failure all my own, and because of something awful a teacher said.

When my students have cried, it's usually either because of something in their day and a not-so-awesome lesson has pushed them over the edge, or they tried really hard in the week, and it's not its best in the lesson.

From Emily Liz
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 5:10 PM
I've cried after lessons, after I have a few minutes to process what happened... I'm going to say that counts.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 6:19 PM
Ha, I accidentally voted no.

I was going to say I'd never cried during a lesson, but I do recall crying once when I was 4. In high school, I once had to cancel a lesson because I couldn't stop crying, and there was more than one time in college that I went to the practice room and cried after the lesson, but never during.

Kids cry during my lessons frequently (And one pregnant lady once), but it's mostly high school girls with hormones aflare. I try not to let things turn into a counseling session, but there's definitely a fine line when it comes to musical instruction and meeting the needs of a student. Some days are just like that.

From Gene Wie
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 10:26 PM
I do let things become a counseling session.

As a student's private teacher, we are more involved in their lives than the car service and house cleaning industries. In many cases, it is necessary to serve as a trusted adult and role model who can offer logical and supportive advice.

A kid who is having terrible day isn't going to make beautiful music without some sort of help. How we teach them to cope is equally as important as holding the bow in a proper fashion.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 4, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I was one of those high school girls. I also cried in an all-state audition. I was a high-school senior and it was my last chance to make all-state. I heard my chances going down the drain as I played the concerto (Mozart #3). I cried. And no, I didn't make it.
From Elaine Yong
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 1:29 AM
As a matter of fact, last lesson. Yesterday.
I don't think it's the generalization high school girls, being one of them myself. But I think it's stress (from school work) combined with our own expectations (musically). It's the failure to meet our own expectations, however crazy they may be.
I'm sure boys cry too, probably when alone or when at home and out of the public eye. We all have emotions.
In year 12, everyone is going to have a day where they're just going to have what we call a "mental breakdown".

In short, for many adolescents, life not working the way they want it to, musically and/or otherwise..

From Tony Boone
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 3:15 AM
This seems to be a predominately female phenomena as best I can ascertain. ;-)
From E. Smith
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 3:57 AM
I've cried at lessons and I'm not even a violinist.
From ruth shellard
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 10:00 AM
I'm an adult learner and I practise loads, about four hours a day. I've been doing this for three and a half years now. I'm besotted with the violin.

I do love violin lessons and my teacher. He's an excellent teacher and is very thorough in every aspect. He's also fairly encouraging.

However, because of the emotional nature of the subject, the lessons have a very different feel to anything I have experienced. I was always being complimented for my 'gift' of foreign languages at school and was told I was the best linguist the school had ever had.

After my violin lesson last Wednesday, I had a racket ball lesson and this stood in stark contrast to violin lessons.

What I have noted, over time, listening to my daughter's music lessons, my own singing lessons which I used to have, as well as violin lessons - I'm on my second teacher - is that they are so much more personal. The teacher has to do their job thoroughly which they always have, but sometimes it would be easy to break if you didn't have the maturity to override all the comments.

I don't know the answer and a teacher can't fake compliments, but when you know that you put your heart and time completely into it, it doesn't always feel that the payback in terms of compliments is well balanced.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoy my journey and never struggle to practise, it would be just great for a teacher to turn round and say 'you are a great player'. Well, I know in comparison to where they are at, I am not, but I know 100% that I am in terms of what I am playing in such a short period of time.
I can quite easily see why many give up, but as for me, I'm far too besotted and never get discouraged. Even if somebody told me I was the worst player in the world, it wouldn't make me stop.
However, it would be good just to hear, like I did, and still do, 'you are a great linguist' (I'm a French, Italian and Spanish interpreter) the same in musical terms, that is, 'you are a great player'. I ache to hear that and it could make me weep not hearing it. Whilst I'm not in this for an ego trip, all humans need encouragement to take them further.
As I said and repeat, I have a great teacher and there's not really anything negative to say at all, but intrinsic to most people, the real encouragement that we all need does not come easy to most people and there are few who have this characteristic. I think this is where the real icing on the cake comes in terms of one teacher being a notch above the rest. I have seen it once only in music teachers and that is my daughter's piano teacher.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 5:05 PM
You are a great violinist.
From ruth shellard
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 5:09 PM
From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 5, 2011 at 5:06 PM
Meanwhile, I once had a young beginner student that would weep when introduced to a new concept.

Fourth finger? Weeping. Low two? Weeping. Not a misting up, not a drop or two of tears, but red faced, runny nosed, all out weeping.

We all have our tough days, and we all lose it now and again. But this...

Now, I'm a fairly decent sort, with a pretty good way with the young ones. This child's reaction was startling.

I responded sensibly; here's your tissue, take a minute, take a deep breath, and when you're ready, we'll continue. If not, we'll call it a day and I'll see you next week. Calm, steady, no drama.

The parent's response was that this child didn't like to do anything new. This child had great anxiety about failing.

Regular, deserved validation of good efforts seemed to have no effect. Weeping stopped, and arguing started. It was really sad.

Otherwise, my students tend not to cry in a lesson. I never cried in a lesson. After, occasionally, yes.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 6, 2011 at 6:16 AM
Gene Wie, I like your comment. I feel exactly the same way.

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