Printer-friendly version
The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you ever felt uncomfortable at a violin lesson?

September 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Private music lessons can be very intense, and after writing about how teachers can put their students at ease, I started to think about my own experiences as both a student and teacher.

What were situations that made me feel uncomfortable or anxious? I'm sure I cried at a few lessons, but honestly I can't remember any specific times. I do remember once, when a long-time teacher told me, when I was playing the very, very high passage in the first movement of the Tchaik concerto, "You are not going to be able to play that passage on that violin. There's just nothing more you can do." I was thunderstruck, and yet in that moment it was crystal clear that I'd needed to upgrade my fiddle for a very long time, I had been in denial.

On a more humorous note, another time, my teacher's large, ailing, elderly dog Barney, who was wearing a cone around his neck, was sitting at my teacher's side at his university studio when I came to my lesson. Okay, no biggie. But when I started playing, Barney began to wail-- loudly and persistently. I couldn't really tell if Barney was groovin' on my music or trying to get me to stop playing! I truly could not stop wondering if the dog howled when he liked something, or when he didn't. Nonetheless, I had doggie accompaniment (or, perhaps it was commentary) off-and-on for the rest of that particular lesson.

As a teacher, well here's an awkward one: My younger students all have their parents at their lessons. Now, the parent is supposed to pretend to be a fly on the wall, and not to interject, but this can be difficult. One time, my student was playing along, then paused. Then her mother said gently, "Didn't you want to tell her you were having trouble with…?" and tears starting rolling down my student's face! What to do? I didn't even know what it was about, she hadn't finished the sentence! The mother, very sweet and well-meaning person, was also taken by surprise, and she apologized for interjecting. I felt like I needed to get them both back on track, which we did. But it was one of those unpredictable moments that brought forth a lot of emotion.

How about you? Have you ever felt uncomfortable or anxious at a lesson? Feel free to share your stories!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 9, 2011 at 5:18 PM

The most uncomfortable violin lesson I think I ever had was in my teacher's home.  He had teenage kids who were watching TV at the same time as the lesson was going on, and one of them called to him from the next room to watch something that was on the TV.  What was on the TV was Karl Wallenda, the high wire performer, doing what turned out to be his last walk. I watched Wallenda fall to his death off the high wire in San Juan Puerto Rico during my violin lesson.  I thought it was live at the time, but it may not have been.  The video is available on YouTube and the date given (1978) is about right for when I remember it happening, but I don't know anymore.  Everyone else, including the teacher, just wanted to get back to the violin lesson after the TV clip was over, but I couldn't concentrate anymore, I was very upset.

From Andrei Pricope
Posted on September 9, 2011 at 8:34 PM

In my many years of teaching, I have had students cry (more times than I can count – continued lack of preparation can be very embarrassing!), throw up (apparently too much tension + bad sardines?), even wet their pants in lessons (little kid being too embarrassed to ask to use the restroom – poor thing!).

The most embarrassing/funny moment recently was when a teenage student's music binder being opened at a certain spot revealed a tubular female hygiene product in all of its splendid glory. As she said, "Awkwaaard!"

Otherwise, the usual talks about the importance of proper, consistent practice (self-reminder: record little speech on CD for students AND parents)...

From Diane Allen
Posted on September 10, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I had an unexpected explosion of passing gas..............



From Asher Wade
Posted on September 10, 2011 at 7:44 PM

 Ha! - yes, I can remember {never forget, even} my very first violin lesson (age: 22); I was so inhibited to put bow to strings that I just couldn't face my teacher.  Luckily for me that this wasn't new for 'her', because her studio {former living-room} was lined with waist-high mirrors encircling the entire room.  She mere told me to turn completely facing away from her [as she could see me from every angle] and "cut loose".  It actually worked like a charm & I am ever grateful for her ingenuity.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

The Wallis Presents

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine