any New Jersey violin teachers you would recommend,,,

April 30, 2007 at 04:08 PM · thanks

Replies (66)

April 30, 2007 at 05:11 PM · Yong Tae Kim. My teacher. He is great though.

April 30, 2007 at 06:39 PM · North Jersey or South (i.e., New York or Philadelphia)? Is this for a young child or older student?

April 30, 2007 at 09:42 PM · Are you thinking of moving?

April 30, 2007 at 11:49 PM · thanks people for the responses.

yes, looks like the unthinkable move is almost set, both houses in contracts already. thanks to my wife,,,,doing a great job at work is rewarded with an exile to nj:)

it will be actually somerset county, thus north central? all i know is you cross 2 bridges and you drive and drive and drive. i really need to get a map and start drinking coffee.

the whole family is currently very happy with our current teacher. i really do not mind commuting, but man, having driven couple times across the GW bridge, then the whitestone bridge, in the stop and go, makes me wonder if we should spend altogether 6 hours for a violin lesson. thinking about this issue, to be or not to be, gives me....discomfort.

yes, the student is that nutty 6 yo, yes with that nuttier father who writes down everything the teacher says in class. talking about being a nerdy dictator and living vacariously!

May 1, 2007 at 04:15 AM · In Somerset county, for a 6 yo, try to get into the studio of Margaret Banks; otherwise, most of the local advanced students study in NY or Philadelphia.

May 1, 2007 at 11:41 AM · If you decide you're interested in teachers in NY or Philadelphia, I would have some recommendations for you. You can also contact me privately.

May 1, 2007 at 04:42 PM · You could also look around the Pittsburgh area. I drive through Somerset quite often and it's about an hour from Pittsburgh. It's a LOT longer to Philadelphia. There are a lot of amazing players/teachers there and I'm sure that Carnegie Mellon has some sort of preparatory department. Good luck, Somerset is a beautiful area.

May 1, 2007 at 06:01 PM · How can any county in New Jersey be an hour from Pittsburgh? I think you might be thinking of a Somerset in New York or Pennsylvania.

August 6, 2007 at 08:22 PM · I heard Chin Kim lives in New Jersey. He's an outstanding violinist and teacher. He's on the faculty at Mannes, but lives in New Jersey.

August 7, 2007 at 02:30 AM · What part of NJ?

August 7, 2007 at 03:40 AM · My teacher's Nancy Wilson, in Lawrenceville. I think she's excellent; I come out of every lesson feeling like I've learned something new and exciting, and knowing exactly what I am supposed to practice. That might be kind of far, though.

August 9, 2007 at 02:01 AM · There are a lot of talented musicians living in NJ, don't despair!

Somerset County is big, but chances are you aren't far from New Brunswick. Mason Gross School of the Arts, part of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, has some good faculty members (Margaret Holland, Todd Phillips). If they can't help you they might at least recommend someone. See website below.

Another idea: when I was a kid (in NJ) I studied in NYC, but a lot of my friends studied with a guy called Steven Wolsonovich, based in Westfield. You might see if he is still teaching although he's probably semi-retired by now. A lot of his students did very well in competitions and all-state orchestras (the best known was Melanie Kupchynski, who I think is now in the Chicago Symphony). And yes, it was a hassle for my Dad to drive me through the Lincoln Tunnel every Sunday for lessons (!)

September 25, 2007 at 04:10 AM · I've tried 4 different NJ violin teachers and only one really is GOOOD -- Anthony Serafini in Hackettstown, NJ. When I first went to him and asked him to play something, he played two Paganini caprices at lightning speed(hardest music written for violin). And he's very personable and patient; don't waste your time with anyone else.\

He's a professor of violin at Centenary college as well.

September 25, 2007 at 04:45 AM · haha you seriously auditioned your teacher?

Hmm maybe I should ask Mr. Russell for some scales... see if he's practicing and worthy to teach me.

September 25, 2007 at 03:35 PM · Al, have you tried the Rutgers Community Music Program? Just a thought...

Also, I would highly recommend looking through your phonebook at some smaller privately-owned music schools in the area. Because of the demographic and job availability in this area, the owners of these schools are often highly selective when choosing their teachers. For example, the school I teach at (in Oradell, which is in Bergen County) hires ONLY conservatory graduates. Most of them (my school included) will offer a free trial session with any teacher, giving you a chance to audition your teacher(s).

If you're willing to make the trip to Philadelphia, there is Temple Music Prep, which is quite good--but be careful to audition your teacher before committing to lessons.

Be warned about the conservatories and preparatory programs. For a six-year-old child, you probably want to foster a lifelong love of the violin through a warm, caring lesson environment. I have seen far too many kids in my years of teaching that have enormous talent but the desire to use it has been 'beaten' out of them by an overly strict teacher. IMHO, the conservatory system largely ignores the emotional needs of its students, and instead focuses on a very goal-oriented system of education. What level of playing is this student? Keep in mind that the best players are not necessarily the best teachers...

Please message me if you would like some additional information-Jersey is where I grew up and learned to play the violin myself!

September 25, 2007 at 04:11 PM · Gino:

Keep up that "auditioning" and you'll loose out on the best teachers. Although I think it is perfectly fair for you to get to know your prospective teacher, asking him/her to play for you is very unorthodox and considered to be rude by many teachers. You're paying them to teach you, not to perform for you.

If Dorothy Delay was still around and you went to her and asked her to "play for you", i'm sure she'd kicked you out of her studio without any hesitation.

Perhaps a more respectful way of getting to know the teacher is to ask if any of their top students are performing or competing. Also ask for references.

But ultimately, you could study with the best teahcer in the world and he/she might still not work for you because of compatibility issues too (which has nothing to do with teaching skill or the teacher being able to perform).

Also, there are some teachers who cannot play Paganini caprices but are EXCELLENT teachers for chamber music and orchestral music. Also, there are teachers who might have not had so much experience with orchestral music but are stellar soloists who might actually feel less comfortable and familiar helping you with orchestral music.

When students ask if they can study with me and want alot of help with orchestral audition pieces, I tell them that I'm not the best person for that and my specialty is more chamber music, concertos, solo violin, etc.

Students sometimes forget that orchestral and soloist worlds are 2 completely different worlds so they need to recognize the differences. Of course, general exposure to orchestral, chamber music AND solo violin playing is a very well-rounded education.

The best way for a student/teacher collaboration to be successful is to think of each other as a "team". Teacher needs to understand and help students with their goals and Students need to respect, trust and follow the suggestions of the teacher. It is when the student (and or the parent of the student) thinks that they are the "boss" of the teacher since they pay them, is when things can start to fall apart.

Technically, in the world of business the "customer" has the right. But I think in teaching, the teacher also doesn't have to take on the student. So I think a healthy middle ground is to try to develop a trusting and good relationship to work together as a team.

September 25, 2007 at 06:11 PM · thank you all for the very thoughtful and helpful suggestions. because of my kid's busy schedule, we have recently settled with someone local.

the first lesson was memorable, at least to me. the teacher said she is talented but with many problems. so on the way out i asked the teacher: i agree she has many problems to work on, but why do you say she is talented...

the teacher replied: with bad techniques, she does not sound too bad.

:):):) cool, there is still hope.

again, thank you everyone. rocks.

September 25, 2007 at 07:09 PM · Sung-Duk, you say I might lose out of the best teachers. I though I made it clear I already HAVE the best teacher.Of course I realize you don't have to be able to play Paganini to be a good teacher, but I know of one teacher who literally does not know how to play the violin. All he does is check intonation.

Now what you say about compatibility issues, teamwork etc. is certainly valid, but I wasn't challenging any of that.

Your comment about Dorothy Delay is very intesting: I've wondered myself how well she plays. Why is her playing never ever seen or discussed? Mr. Serafini studied also with Louis Krasner who of course was a wondeful violinist as everyone knows

Kurt Sassmanhaus is a wonderful teacher and obviously a very fine virtuoso; again this too is well-known.

So where is Dorothy Delay?? Recall that Isaac Stern once said that Galamian couldn't play very well.

Frankly I think students should be more careful of

POSSIBLY groundless hero-worship. If they won't play for you, be wary.

That said, I really would like to hear from someone who heard Dorothy Delay play.

In any case, Mr. Serafini seemed to welcome the chance to play for me; he is not the prima-donna type we see in so many teachers

September 25, 2007 at 07:54 PM · Interesting comment from the teacher, I think, Al . . . it sounds like the teacher was really listening to your daughter, and that is a good sign! And, I agree with her. A child who can find her way towards good sound despite technical obstacles is gifted.

September 25, 2007 at 10:40 PM · Gino,

Dorothy Delay produced some of the greatest violinists of our time. Who cares that she can't play. That isn't what teaching is about.

O, and Galamian has a very impressive resume too. The incomparable Mr. Serafini would probably degree.

September 25, 2007 at 11:18 PM · I don't clsim Mr Serafini agrees with any of this; in fact he has great respect for Galamian and Delay

these are just my views

September 26, 2007 at 12:28 AM · Gino, you're a funny kid.

September 26, 2007 at 12:54 AM · Pieter, I gather your definition of "funny" is anyone who disagrees with you ;)

September 26, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Pietr, and you I take it are a doddering old Jew

September 26, 2007 at 01:14 AM · I sat in one of Dorothy Delay's master classes. She was capable of demonstrating anything she wanted out of any of her students on her violin.

September 26, 2007 at 01:20 AM · Mr. Serafini, do you agree with your young prodige?

But yes, I do think he's funny. I mean, there's a big difference between disagreeing with someone because you have differing opinions, and laughing at them because what they are saying is so ignorant it actually is funny.

Haha now I'm a doddering old Jew, what does that even mean?

September 26, 2007 at 01:24 AM · kimberlee, hope you are settled in since your move. we knew how that feels like:) and :(.

you have to rebuild your teaching studio? good luck and best wishes.

gino, i am impressed by anyone who is devoted to his/her teacher; that is a treat and bliss. it is a joy to read about it. also, :) good luck and best wishes.

gino and pieter brought up an interesting point...should or must the teacher be a good player?

at beginner level, i would think that kids/students need to emulate the teachers to get on track, so the better the player teacher, the more the benefit to the kids.

at advanced level, it may not be as straight forward imo. one on hand, having a great player teacher can enlighten one's senses instantly, to see how it is done. but, if the student is already very good and has come with or is developing his/her own style, things can become confusing...

could that be the case with delay where instead of showing the kids from all corners of the universe how she played her way, she nurtured the individual spirit and style already in development and let her students explore within? thus the teacher helps one become oneself instead of being built in the image of another?

ironically, does it seem that it is so much easier these days to be someone else than yourself?:)

ps, pieter, you are very funny, but hey, easy does it.

September 26, 2007 at 06:04 AM · Mr Viljoen,

First my "young protege" is nearly forty years old and a professor of physics. I personally am suspicious of any response that begins with an utterly erroneous assumption. I think it reveals a gratuitous prejudice on your part, that only kids can profitably study the violin.

That aside, al ku raises the same question as Gino -- "gino and pieter brought up an interesting point...should or must the teacher be a good player?"

Well, here is an answer that was posted by Ben Clapton on, of all things, VIOLINIST.COM!


How Do I Find the Right Violin Teacher?

A violin teacher is someone you will see once a week, possibly for many years. So choose wisely!

Updated: 2005-08-10 at 1:30 AM (MST) by Ben Clapton

[Previous versions]



He goes on to qualify this somewhat, saying e.g. "Many teachers are so committed to teaching that they scarcely have time to perform."

But it remains of interest that the very first thing he brings up is that the teacher must know how to play the violin.

Let's not forget also that when the fabled Galamian and Delay students came to them, they were ALREADY first-class virtuosos. Another example of this are the Heifetz Master Classes in California. The late Erick Friedman went to study with Heifetz but again, he was already a first-class virtuoso.

So, I agree with Gino to the extent that part of the "legendary" teaching status of Galamian and Delay rests on the fact that they had the finest materials and greatest talents to work with from the outset. To find the REALLY good teachers you need to look at the ones who strive to make something out of the students with no talent, the ones with some talent but little interest, the ones pushed onto the violin by mommy and daddy, etc. But give any teacher on VIOLINIST.COM an Itzhak Perlman to work with and "poof" -- he or she will become the next Dorothy Delay.

Of course I don't approve of Gino's ethnic swipe, though you invited it by your belittling remarks about him.

September 26, 2007 at 12:22 PM · A sidebar question:

Is it bad to ask your teacher to play a piece you have never heard before, so you know how it is supposed to sound? Is that considered rude as well? (If so I am in deep do-do.)

My teacher flies to DC to perform with the Violins of Lafayette, so that's enough for me. And she's a professor at CU-Boulder. What matters the most to me is she takes our time seriously, is very kind and encouraging, and I feel comfortable with her.

Now, if only she'd stop asking me to play during our lessons the lesson time would really improve in quality!

September 26, 2007 at 02:18 PM · I am happy whenever I hear success stories of teacher/student.

However, negative or skeptical comments of Dorothy Delay have been bothering me quite a bit on this forum.

I think and hope that this post will clarify Dorothy Delay's true abilities as a performer and teacher.

One of my good friends, Andrew Galos and his wife Ruth Galos (the niece of Mischa Mishakoff - former concertmaster of NBC Symphony under Toscanini) would always say good things about Dorothy Delay as a person, performer and teacher.

Andy and Ruth were very close friends of Dorothy and he even performed at her wedding ceremony. He even sent some of his best students to her for advice and final "touch up" before competitions or performances.

Although she didn't have the ability to reach the stardom as a performer such as Itzhak Perlman, she was a very fine player before she had some medical issues. Back when Andy, Ruth and Dorothy were classmates at Juilliard (Andy studied with Mishakoff & Sascha Jacobsen, Ruth studied harp with Marcel Grandjany, and Dorothy Delay was in the Artist program). Delay had a very good command of the standard concertos, chamber music, and orchestral music. She has been Concertmistress and had led chamber ensembles. However, she was never a "Paganini-virtuoso" type of artist.

According to Andy, Dorothy never enjoyed the endless hours of practice and touring associated with a performing career. Instead, she was a wonderful person who enjoyed learning about everything there is to the violin including technique, practice methods, psychology, coaching, etc. She was also a very outstanding diplomat and wonderful person, thus developed friendships with some of the most powerful people in the music business including Lee Lamont (now ICM Artist President, but former assistant to Isaac Stern), Isaac Stern, and many other people.

The notion that Delay only accepted "only the best" is a partial truth. I think it is natural that since Delay was the Chairwoman of the Violin Department at Juilliard, it makes sense that only the "best" would come and audition for her. However, in her private studio, there was a good mix of very ambitious and super-talented students like Sarah Chang, Midori, Cho-Liang Lin, Itzhak Perlman, etc. There were students who were very good and went on to successful careers in orchestra, chamber music, or teaching. And there were also students who were "VERY SERIOUS" but less talented and end up studying something else at another college. Many of you might not know this, but I heard from a former Delay pupil that David Kim (concertmaster of Philadelphia Orchestra) had a very lucky opportunity to work with Delay from the very beginning (as a beginner). She devised a very structured and organized practice plan and oversaw his growth and success. I am not sure if this anecdote of David Kim is true or not, but if it is I think Delay wanted to prove to herself that she can also teach beginners and build them up to world-class level.

Now, does this mean that anyone who is lucky to get into Delay's studio is going to turn into the next Perlman with a magic wand? No. This is not what Delay is all about. In fact, alot of ambitious students went to Delay to become a superstar and to learn the "secrets" to play Paganini, Ernst, etc. Students with these attitudes usually didn't work out with Delay. (I AM NOT saying that her students cannot play Paganini or Ernst or that she can't teach it). She especially resented stage parents and students who were looking for a "door-opener". If my understanding is correct, Delay took on serious and talented students who are willing to "grow together" with her. If and when she felt a certain student was truly deserving of a top career, she would introduce them to the right people in the business. If she did this for all of her students, then her reputation would not last. The students that had a great match with her were ones who had "complete total trust" and held up to her expectations and suggestions. She taught students more than just "fast fingers" and "virtuoso technique". She wanted students to develop a "convincing interpretation" and dig deeper into the meaning of the music.

Delay's teaching philosophy is to "nurture talented students in a non-threatening environment, yet hold very high expectations". She taught students how to practice, how to manage their time, how to survive in the real world, etc. She was more than just a teacher who saw you once or twice a week and took your $. (She even taught Perlman how to drive a car!!! Now how many violin teachers would go out of their way for a student?)

As any of the top former students of Delay would agree, she is the best teacher because she taught a student how to teach themselves. The students who were able to reap the most benefits of working with Delay truly understood and trusted her instincts. She was such a strong proponent in this philosophy because she felt it was a necessary skill in order to survive professionally without depending on a teacher all the time. Of course, if a student was really struggling, she knew exactly all the reasons behind a passage not working out properly. As Andy always said to me, "If I played out of tune or struggled in a passage in Mischakoff's studio, he'd yell Galos! Did you like your playing? You're nothing but a shoemaker! Don't you come back until you can show me that you play the violin. Whereas, Dorothy Delay would say sugarplum, if i played it the way like you did and it was incorrect, how would you advise me to fix it?"

Aside from Delay's actual teaching, I am very fascinated with this woman because she is the first teacher who actually helped "deserving" students build careers. She knew the music business inside-out and was able to use her best students to create a "cult-like" following of audiences. She knew how to bring out the best in a student so that audiences (who she felt were the boss of the artist) would want to pay to hear her student play! She was all for pleasing the audience (including fellow musicians).

I know with big success might cause other people to be skeptical. I have even heard people use terms such as "con artist" to describe Delay. (These words usually came out of the not so successful students, Delays rivals, or other people who truly didn't understand her teaching). But I think a more appropriate word for her is "genius" and sometimes geniuses are often misunderstood by many people. She was a master teacher, businesswoman, and psychologist all rolled into one! She took the world of teaching violin to the next level!

Although I was never a student of Delay, I am able to recognize her greatness. Whether or not you like her and agree with her approaches, one cannot argue her success!

Plus, if you disagree with my posting about Delay I can respect your opinion as everyone is entitled to their opinions. But to be negative and skeptical in public, about one of the most legendary and powerful people in the business is bad practice. I know of a world-renowned artist (who will remain anonymous so I can protect this person's reputation) insulted Delay in public on a Strad Magazine interview about 10 years ago. The person talked about how Delay's students sounding like a "factory line", etc etc. This artist is no longer on the concert scene, due to "political circumstances". This person told me that it was the biggest mistake that was ever done. Therefore, even if Delay is not with us anymore she has a network of powerful people that still admire and respect her. So please be careful, for your sake (especially those wanting to build a solo career). I've been in the business end of music, so I am very familiar with these "political issues".

In conclusion, I think it takes many people a long time to truly understand great geniuses of this magnitude!

September 26, 2007 at 05:41 PM · Not many of us have had the experience to know so much about Dorothy Delay--although I'm wondering if Oliver Steiner will see this thread and respond as he is one of her students. Thanks for giving us your knowledge about this fascinating, lovely person. She certainly made the most out of her life and gave as much as she possibly could, which is a beautiful legacy.

September 26, 2007 at 02:50 PM · "To find the REALLY good teachers you need to look at the ones who strive to make something out of the students with no talent, the ones with some talent but little interest, the ones pushed onto the violin by mommy and daddy, etc."

so true, reminding me of one of my favorite tv shows... "dirty jobs":)


thanks mr song for that post on delay.... lots of pearls on violin and life lessons.

September 26, 2007 at 04:34 PM · aku, thanks for your good wishes stated earlier. I think Mr. Serafini's quote completely answers Pieter's snide remarks.

And with Brackenbury sarcastic (but wise) query, "Is it bad to ask your teacher to play a piece you have never heard before, so you know how it is supposed to sound? If that considered rude as well? (If so I am in deep do-do), I think we have made enough of a fool of Pietr and should let him slink off and lick his wounds.

Mr Song's posting on Dorothy Delay seems very sound and I know Mr. Serafini has great respect for her.

P.S. Oh Pietr, since you didn't understand my comment the word "doddering" must have thrown you. It means "feeble" or "senile" ;)

September 26, 2007 at 05:31 PM · Gino, I understand what doddering means. To paraphrase Truman Capote: there is no word or concept which you can illuminate for me.

I don't understand what you said because I am 22 years old, certainly not doddering, and not Jewish. Are you some kind of anti semite?

Mr Serafini:

I understand you think that their success comes from having the best students, circumstances etc... but if you've ever studied with a Galamian type pedagogue (which I have, and currently am doing), you'd understand that the teaching itself really is genius. There's the famous idea that Galamian could teach a table (or chair whatever) to play the violin. So no, it isn't only about their status. That's an erroneous assumption made by people who have no clue what they're talking about, or just jealous, unsuccessful people. I have more than one friend who said that they'd be NOTHING without the teaching of Dorothy Delay.

If you want to go into telling remarks, I cannot understand how you'd have respect for a 40 year old bigot. You're getting on me for making an assumption. Well, your esteemed "physics" professor just assumed I'm something I'm not and in the process exposed himself as an anti-semite.

Also, you're making yet another assumption that I think only kids can study the violin. I called Gino a kid because that's what I thought he was. To think this man is actually a professor and has earned a degree is a bit hard to swallow given his comportment here. I am 22 years old, well past the prime age to be taking the violin seriously, so in fact I'm the total opposite of what you are assuming. Really, you're 0 for 2.

September 26, 2007 at 06:18 PM · pieter, how many hours on the average do you practice these days? have you moved to study with mr russel, or do you fly in regularly?

September 26, 2007 at 07:07 PM · "Give someone a fish and he will have food for one meal. Teach someone how to fish and he will have food for the rest of his life."

I can think of no teacher who equalled Miss DeLay in her ability to teach the student how to teach himself. She was a brilliant person who learned from all sources. Her curiosity about how actors prepare a performance, about how sports professionals are aware of their movements, etc., was infectious. She had a generous heart. When I complained to her about not seeing the relevance to my playing of my music theory class assignments, she took me to the caffeteria for coffee and a lesson in analyzing the score of the Beethoven Sonata that I was studying at the time. Some of my "hour" lessons were two and a half hour lessons. She treated her students with respect. She regarded any teacher who complained and insulted, the same way one would regard a doctor who, instead of healing the patient, complains and insults him. I miss her, and feel very grateful to have studied with her.

September 26, 2007 at 06:43 PM · Hi al... I basically spend 4-6 hours in this room now, trying to practice in a very disciplined way. I have 2 lessons with Mr. Russell every week as well as performance class once a week. I'm in Cleveland, so I am defintaely not flying in.

Mr. Steiner, that's incredible.

September 26, 2007 at 07:16 PM · Oliver, that's an interesting insight into a great teacher's opinion on teaching. A lot of people appear to dismiss negative behavior from a teacher as irrelevant or even beneficial somehow. No adult with life experience would take it, only kids. I really suspect it would come back to haunt the student some way or another.

September 26, 2007 at 07:40 PM · mr steiner's post is certainly revealing...makes me wonder if those traits of ms delay is indicative of her maternal instinct (tolerance, understanding, etc) as well as her personality, in addition to violin insights,,,

jim, you recently said a lot of stuff that i do not know what to make of, but that post of yours i totally concur:):):)

September 26, 2007 at 07:55 PM · Thank you so much for sharing your personal memories with us Oliver. It's one way Miss Delay's influence is still being felt, and I appreciate knowing more about someone who obviously gave so much.

September 26, 2007 at 07:52 PM · al, you mean about wanting to see Guns N Roses smash stuff up? You know how much you can make selling sledge hammer swings at a junk car? You know how much someone our age back hurts after doing it themselves?

September 26, 2007 at 11:55 PM · Can someone give Pietr a valium and/or a saucer of milk?

September 27, 2007 at 12:31 AM · Actually I wasn't being sarcastic, it was a honest question. I've only taken violin for three months and I was wondering, when I read the thread, if it was also considered rude to ask your teacher to play something in a book if you never heard it before. I think I tend more toward "play by ear" type, so I have great trouble playing anything I haven't heard played or sung before.

September 27, 2007 at 12:41 AM · It isn't rude at all. Usually teachers will play something for you, demonstrating is the word I guess. Unless you're playing something fairly difficult and they no longer do that kind of stuff, demonstration is fairly common in lessons.

September 27, 2007 at 12:38 AM · Greetings,

it`s an interesting problem. Balliol, the grandmaster of the French School, insisted his beginner studnets master solfeggio and theory of music before taking up the instrument.

That was then, this is now....

I think most adults/children these days are not willing to follow this route. I have a lot of sympathy with this sicne if one has a burning desire to play having, for example, just seen the Red Violin or somethin, then being told to wait and do work on soemthing else is rather tough. It remains for the teacher then to feed a smuch or little of this work is required. However, I suspect they often do not have the time. I don`t in lessons yet it is so hard to get across to people the huge amount of time they waste in lessons and private practice because they do not approach music as music first IE to be tackled rythmically, sung, conducted etc, -befor e- picking up the instrument and learning all manner of useles smistakes.

I see nothing wrong with asking a teache rto demonstarte a piece. Indeed , I don`t think one needs to ask particularly because most teachers demonstarte a lot for beginners. If the teacher sis holding abck on demonstration for a reason then he/she will probably be quite happy to say way. I cannot see why it would cause offence.



September 27, 2007 at 12:24 PM · In general, people don't like to be put on the spot, right? Most of us get a little queasy when we feel like we need to "prove" ourselves. Not to say that's always a wrong thing to expect, just that knowing you might be putting someone on the spot is good to consider before doing it. That's why, depending on the situation, asking a teacher to play for you can be interpreted as disrespectful.

At your level, P.H., I agree with Buri and others. It should be no problem to ask for a demonstration. If the teacher feels like it's something he wants you to learn on your own, he'll just tell you. Your music should not be putting your teacher on the spot at all. It only gets a little dicey when the student is working on something very advanced and the teacher may or may not be in the practice shape to demonstrate.

As far as "auditioning" teachers? I've never done that, though I will admit to attending my teacher's concerts and observing. I've loved it when my teachers play for me in lessons, and I think it is very giving of them. But, I'm not at lesson for a concert (even though that's what I wish it were sometimes), so I appreciate all the other facets in my lesson time that do not involve demonstration.

I do think it is important to know that the teacher you select is capable of teaching what you need, but there are other ways of discovering that information that don't involve putting someone on the spot--of course, if you do ask and he gives you a great concert, you know you've got a generous teacher who can lay it on the line when it's asked for (and that's a good quality, imo).

September 27, 2007 at 01:04 PM · one thing that mr steiner brought up,,,ms delay taking him to lesson in cafe over coffee,,,rings bell...

every time i "tell" my kids (actually retell what teacher said) something, music or sports, i always sense a level of resistance/being on guard from my kids, thus i found it incredible/frustrating that some of easiest concepts (repeated almost daily) are not easily ingrained into their routine.

however, whenever they are delivered in a conversational setting (which is done too rarely because of impatience on my part and time constraint:) the kid are more receptive and respond more willlingly.

simple, correct approaches that take time to accomplish are hard to do,,,:):):)

September 27, 2007 at 01:49 PM · Al, I have the same experience with my daughter. The same information that she would hear from a teacher without question, she is on her guard and resistant if she hears it from me. I'd been chalking it up to mother/daughter issues (which I still think are there), but you also have a good point that usually when I'm talking to her it's not in a really relaxed, conversational context. Usually there's some other agenda, like I'm trying to make sure her homework gets done and that I don't forget to fill out and sign one of the 168 other forms that came home in the backpack and have to be returned TOMORROW.

The best time for us to have a relaxed conversation is while we're walking to school--evenings are usually too hairy. Today while we were walking she spontaneously sang me a tune about the lines and spaces on the music staff that she'd learned in music class. It was great. All that fixed-do solfege her piano teacher gave her last year and the "I can read music" Suzuki book may have prepared her, but I don't think they helped her as much as that simple song.

January 27, 2008 at 11:34 PM · I concur with Mr. Serafini, and so do a great many educational researchers who find that modeling is nearly always superior to verbal instruction. Unfortunately it sometimes seems to me that any Joe Blow can set up shop as a violin teacher without understanding the mechanics well enough to correct his own appalling technique, and those who suffer most are children of non-musician parents (because the violin teacher is supposed to be the expert, right? What do 'we' know?)

Since Galamian was mentioned, I'll share this anecdote from the cello professor at my school, who reminisces about attending Meadowmount with Perlman and Zukerman back in the sixties:

He and a friend were loitering outside Galamian's studio while a lesson was in progress. Hearing the exceptionally talented student, the friend remarked, "How do you teach *that*?" Next they heard Galamian, and both agreed, "Ah -- that's how!"

January 28, 2008 at 03:53 AM · wow nicole, how did you manage to dig out this thread...i almost forgot about it:)

anyway, allow me to give everyone (who cares:) some update/feedback with my kid's lessons and progress.

still marching forward in the dark alley at our own pace, but these days, my ability to help is dwindling since the music is getting too hard for me. essentially she is more on her own. one thing the new teacher has been emphasizing like there is no tomorrow is that she must be able to sightread much better. thus, in the past several months, i have really tried not to help and to let her experience some growing pains of sightreading. i have been yelled at by the teacher for helping--what has this world come to?!

i think she has responded to the challenge ok. when you have to do something, i guess you just do it. here is her take on bach sonata 1 after 2 weeks of working on it on her own. (this is in contrast to what we have been talking about earlier, that it is helpful that the teacher does some demonstration. i guess the teacher thinks that in her case at this juncture, she must learn to acquire some basic skills.)

her time is still being torn among her morning, before-the-bus 40 mins violin practice and an entire afternoon of very tiresome golf practice (probably not your concept of golf:) and finally, some maternal love:) with piece- of- cake homework in the evening. to complicate the issues, both the violin teacher and the golf gurus are suggesting she needs to concentrate on one thing only,,,,soon. we as parents really do not have a ready answer. my hunch is that she won't go into music as a profession. golfwise, at most college level and that is it. because of her older sister's influence, she is competitive in golf: state champion for girl under-8 when she was 5 and then 6 last year and top 10 ranked in the world.

i wonder if any teachers here have had students with multiple, potentially conflicting interests and can share with us their experiences...

January 28, 2008 at 03:55 PM · Josh Bell had to make this choice (in his case it was tennis) when he was about 12.

January 28, 2008 at 06:10 PM · do what you love and don't over analyse it.

January 28, 2008 at 11:20 PM · hey e smith, omg i just saw this very cool clip on youtube that everyone should watch. that mom is a toughie! :):):)

January 29, 2008 at 05:19 AM · Yeah, but guess what: her sister saved up and just ordered the forbidden Australian pogo stick.

January 29, 2008 at 07:37 AM · I wanna see seven feet!

January 29, 2008 at 12:57 PM · Speaking of seven feet, Al, I have a high school student that splits his time between violin and football. He is both Varsity and JV for his high school.

Football is popular here. This boy has year round supervised gym workouts. The football games are played between September and November. So for those three months, I let him slide. He has to come to his weekly lesson, whether or not he practiced (insert smiley face here), and I don't give him a hard time about it. After football season is over, he has to PRACTICE violin, and I load him up with extra stuff to learn!

This is not a perfect solution. He had to drop out of the Youth Orchestra in order to practice with his team. He has a lot of natural talent (quick ear, fast fingers), but he is not as far along as he could be because of his sports schedule.

I have had some good conversations with his parents, and we are all on board with this plan. He won't ever become a professional violinist, but he also won't be a professional athlete either. I think he is interested in science. This will probably be his only opportunity to play a sport (there doesn't seem to be a Senior NFL circuit...), so this has worked out well. He is a really nice kid, honor student, polite, etc.

I don't know if that helps you or not, but that is what we worked out together for the past several years. On the flip side, I have had parents yank their kid out of violin lessons in order to concentrate on a specific sport, usually during the middle school years...

January 29, 2008 at 01:32 PM · anne, thanks for that, something i think we can identify with. great that you can be understanding... i know a lot of teachers won't put up with that carp:)

this past summer we barely practiced violin because of the move, summer travels and almost tournaments every other day where we need to get up at about 5-6am to start driving. so now in the winter months we try to catch up a little. with both violin and golf, you need time to absorb things properly.

having said that, e smith's kid (a poster here right, forget her name:) is quite something, still finding time to coach others. by the way, this youtube clip of hers is outstanding.

January 29, 2008 at 03:08 PM · I don't consider it "carp", or any other kind of fish (insert smiley face here). It is a child's life. Not every child musician wants to be a professional musician when they grow up.

January 29, 2008 at 07:36 PM · Hi Al, it seems a shame if an adult's interpretation of what is important in a child's life, starts to cause anxiety in a situation where parents are obviously ensuring that their child has a child's life.

You must know that you could have exploited your daughter to the ends of the earth - she has confident charisma and a skill that we don't normally see in young children. Television and other celebrity hungry media would have grabbed her with open arms if you were pushing in that direction. The fact that you don't suggests that you see understand more in what she wants out of life than other well meaning skilled and involved adults who aren't her parent.

If she can be as good a violinist as she is at ?6 ?7, on 40 minutes practise a day for some of the year, why would her teacher not want her to keep doing that. she will eventually be as good as she wants to be. and she'll keep having a life and learning all sorts of non violin stuff.

And if she can be top in the state in golf whilst still playing violin, and going to school and fighting with her sister over modelling clay, well, why would her golf instructors not want her to keep doing that too?

Do the instructors start to worry that the potential that is being ?wasted, is the potential for them to produce a star in their field, rather than the potential for a primary school kid to keep developing her skills. Because lets face it, its not like she's going to suddenly stop learning and developing in either of these endeavours just because she continues to share her interest between them. the teacher's temptation must be so strong to keep feeding this kid who obviously has an appetite, but for whose best interest.

I remember saying to my teacher back when I first started, and I had first seen the you tube of A playing the Vivaldi A minor, that I would be terrified if I was a teacher and she came into my studio. THere is just so much potential to get it wrong in so many ways with these innately skilled kids.

My 2c.

January 30, 2008 at 08:38 PM · sharelle, thanks for those words of wisdom. makes sense.

i guess doing something is quite different from preaching it:) my wife, a professional in a very challenging field, makes hundreds of life-or-death decisions on a daily basis. i am exposed to similar level of challenges in a several fields and used to making tough calls. yet, when it comes to parenting and direction setting, we can probably tell you what is best for your kid, but it is not that clear cut what is the right approach for our own kids, haha. it is weird but it is true.

our inherent bias is that music/sport helps build character, work ethics and improve cognition/coordination, etc. and because of our background (not knowing enough of those other fields), it is only natural that we will be guiding our kids toward professions/lifestyles that we can identify with, which i think is true with every family. our opinions, limited by our experiences, influence them. as the saying goes, apples won't fall far from the tree.

yet so far, the our apple is rolling a tad far from the tree and we get a little jaw-dropped, feeling a mixture of apprehension, excitement, concern, wonder, interest, etc. it is a new learning experience. hate it when it is not in the books:)

another bias of ours is that to be a performing artist, besides having the chops, you need to have an in-born TEMPERAMENT for that line of work. some kids/people just die for the chance to express themselves in public (aussie idol?:) we don't see that trait in our kids. they are on the lame side, like their parents, may be a notch better:) i think violin playing to her is "ok", like eating traditional chinese food. i will eat it because you ask me to, but on my b-day can we go to friendly's?:)...

about a year ago, a producer for ellen degeneras show (?sp) saw that vivaldi clip on youtube and approached us for a kid talent show they had in mind (in america we have a strong appetite for freak shows). we felt that it was really not an appropriate direction for us to take, for many reasons, one of which is that we are too lame:) if we look at today's girls-gone-wild scenes, the society has helped create those little monsters and i don't blame the kids because they are desparately seeking some outlet/balance which have been deprived. they do booze and drugs for a great reason,,,to numb it up. those parents or guardians or promoters, in retrospect, have played their hands way too aggressively for a piece of the action. they know the action will be quick, so do it NOW!! when one kid burns out, there walks in another! for every kid that eventually prevails (is there any, really?) in that system, 1000 spiral right into the drain. wait a minute, in the music world, we call them,,,,,yes, prodigies!:)

with regard to the teachers being demanding or seemingly inconsiderate,,,i think they mean good and they see it as their duty to FULLY explore the potential. whether it is at the expense of anything else, well, not really their concern.

for the violin teacher, he is like, golf? golf is for old men with oxygen tanks, what are you wasting your time for?:)

to the golf teacher, he goes, so you play the banjo? no , violin, oh yeah right,,,that recital of yours, you know we have a very important game that day, right?!

i try to be civil and tolerant of others' way of being, but i do shake my head often and mumble: uh-huh and oh boy... i don't think it will ever occur to them that the hand-eye coordination has developed symbiotically from engaging both disciplines simultaneouly. to them the world spins around each of them, therefore, we are living in at least 2 worlds:)

a friend of mine, a fellow aussie, operates golf academies worldwide and headquartered in orlando, florida. he even urges us to MOVE to fl in order to properly develop the golf game (wait, don't people move to nyc to attend pre-college?:):) he's well established so i know his concern is genuine. i really don't mind the weather for the most part, but to throw a kid this young into that type of cooker takes more than even i can emotionally handle:) kinda reminds me of how kids with potential were groomed in the soviets and china. give up your kid to your beloved country!

so, for now, until the kids declare explicitly their majors, we do things the only way we being lame and school first and other competing interests second:) we will try to stand still while the worlds zoom by...

January 30, 2008 at 08:38 PM · "my wife, a professional in a very challenging field, makes hundreds of life-or-death decisions on a daily basis."

Truck driver?

January 30, 2008 at 10:47 PM · manicurist I think...

January 31, 2008 at 01:27 AM · lol. You win :)

An old friend of mine tried to become a truck driver, but it isn't easy. He qot some grant together and signed up for trucker school. Once there, he got in a fight with somebody and got kicked out. So he tied one on and got arrested for drunk driving. He plead guilty or something and they let him out of jail. Then the school called him and said we thought about it, and it was wrong to kick you out. But the drunk driving record made him ineligble to drive trucks, so they kicked him out again.

January 31, 2008 at 11:34 AM · ha, nice submissions gents!

trucking, though not my family's favorite occupation, is essential for banana transport.

if i were an alexander technologist without alignment issues, i would have gone straight to the jugular answer,,, something in the line of memoirs of a geisha...:)

January 31, 2008 at 03:18 PM · Al, I didn't check the site for a few days, I'm glad the post resurfaced as I wanted to have some follow-up on the topic. As a parent myself I know the struggles - not to pressure, not to set expectations too high, but not too low either, not to miss on opportunities...It's not easy! I've been following your daughter since your initial postings, and her progress is amazing! I can understand why your teacher pressures you into making the violin a priority- she is trully gifted. Being the parent of a "normal" violin child- I can deffinitely say that her ability is beyond her age. As a parent you probably feel torn between wasting that talent vs. allowing her to become who she really is- a multitalented girl with several interests! The problem is that she is so young, and making a firm commitment at this point- golf vs music- can have wide ramifications later on. I think you are having the right attitude, just stimulating her, being supportive as her true interest starts to shape up- and trust me, at some point she will be the one giving you clues! Good luck and keep us posted!

February 1, 2008 at 12:52 PM · thanks michelle for your insight! i guess the misery and joy of violin parenting loves company:)

hope your kid's finger pain has completely resolved.

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