how do you break it to your teacher that you are looking for a new one?

November 27, 2007 at 06:38 PM · I've been going to the same teacher for about 6 months, and feel like I've reached a plateau with her. I'm not pushing my boundaries, nor is she trying to push them either. Worse though, is it seems like I know more of the violin lingo than her. Her violin had a horrible wolf tone one day, and I called it out. She'd never hear of that. I'm, like, 'huh?' (mouth open). How would you break it to her that you are looking for a new teacher?

Replies (28)

November 27, 2007 at 06:44 PM · Hi Barry,

Why do you think you need to tell her that you are looking at all? I switched teachers earlier this year, and I just kept quiet about it until I'd made the decision to switch (and then stressed out a lot here about how to tell her :) ). If you still want to try and make it work with your current teacher, telling her you're looking for a new teacher is probably less effective than being specific about what you want and need. Otherwise, I advise just looking around and waiting until you're ready to make the'll avoid damaging your current relationship that way.

November 27, 2007 at 08:03 PM · Why give her an explanation at all?

Just thank her for her time and tell her that you will not be needing lessons from her anymore. Leave it at that and go, or hang up the phone, however you choose to tell her.

Reasons are your business, she does not have to know. When I got a job at the grocery store, the contract I signed said that they could let you go at anytime for any reason and they would not be responsible for explaining anything to me.

But, if she wants to know the reason so that she can improve as a teacher, I would tell her in a kind way what you did not like about her teaching methods in a point-blank way.

November 28, 2007 at 02:21 AM · Thanks, I'll break it to her nicely. I hope to find a new one in Irvine, CA. If anybody has a teacher they recommend, I'd love to know too.


November 28, 2007 at 03:09 AM · How to make a clean break with your violin teacher:

1. Show up for class.

2. Before taking out your violin, scream "LOOK! OVER THERE!!" and point to the nearest window.

3. Run like crazy.

Seriously, though, you don't have to tell your teacher anything of you don't want to. Just say that you won't be taking further lessons from her.

BTW, good luck with your search for a new teacher :-)

November 28, 2007 at 03:14 AM · You go in all bubbly and excited and say: Hey teachah, leave this kid alone. Pull out your fiddle and play Brahms Hungarian Dance like Vengerov, and inform them that you've just had the opportunity of a life time to study with Al Justice down in southern West Virginia.

November 28, 2007 at 04:32 AM · Greetings,

fake a cardiac arrest outside her studio door?



November 28, 2007 at 07:25 AM · My students often use the excuse that they have found a teacher closer to their home. In some cases, it's even true.

November 28, 2007 at 07:35 AM · Hmmm, I hope your teacher isn't a reader...

Bring her some flowers the next time you see her and thank her profusely for all the good things she's done for you and then say goodbye.

November 28, 2007 at 01:46 PM · "Hmmm, I hope your teacher isn't a reader..."

Yikes! Just what I was thinking! So she may already know! Oops.

If she doesn't have internet access, I think it would be best to mention it just before the switch, otherwise you may find the relationship/her teaching suffers even more. And Yixi's suggestion of flowers is nice.

November 28, 2007 at 01:59 PM · I had a superb retired SLSO teacher, trouble was he lived 164.3 miles away. While lessons from him were worth the drive the rising gas prices did me in. When I sadly told him I was changing teachers to someone 14 miles away he said "heck, I'd study with her myself." We're still good friends and chat weekly.

November 28, 2007 at 02:44 PM · It is tough to know how attached or successful your teacher may be feeling about YOU, I think is part of why this is difficult. It is much more than a business deal when you study with someone. I think the gentle approach, with very little detail about your dissatisfaction with the person's level of expertise, is a wise way. You will feel better than just dumping her, and maybe so will she. There's been a lot of discussion about whether you take any lessons AFTER you've said you're done. Maybe opening a re-hash, but I'd say don't. Too easy to say something you weren't going to and cause actual hurt feelings rather than puzzlement. Sue

November 28, 2007 at 06:01 PM · Barry: Why are you so worried about letting go of your teacher? In fact, you're paying the teacher -- am I correct?

Honesty is the best way (in my opinion)! When I have decided to switch teachers in the past, I have always had an open discussion with them about reasons and issues re: my plans to switch teachers. Hopefully, the teacher will understand.

As a teacher, I'd prefer that a student be open and honest. I've had a few students whose parents would say that they would like to take a "vacation". I was stupid and naive when I first started teaching and it took a while for me to realize that a "vacation" for many students was a more diplomatic way of saying that they're changing teachers or quitting.

Both the student and teacher must realize that there will be a time when both need to move on. More importantly, the teacher must realize his/her limitations. Often times, unethical teachers "hold back" a student because losing the student would mean a loss of income. Even the most famous or greatest teacher in the world shouldn't keep a pupil forever. It is sometimes healthy to get different point of views.

I realize what my strengths and weaknesses are in teaching. If a student gets to a level or has a goal that I can't help them achieve, then I do refer them to others. Other times, I even have the students work with other teachers because: (1) it's important for students to realize that there is more than 1 way to do things; (2) sometimes, they meet other teachers and if their experiences with them are bad, I find this brings more loyalty to me from the student. But most importantly, the teachers need to do what is best for the student.

I have stronger reasons (than below) why I don't like working with teachers,but choose not to disclose them to be politically correct. Some past issues why I have left my teachers include:

1)Once, I fired a teacher because she kept being interrupted by personal phone calls by friends and had to stop fights among her own children. In a 1 hour lesson, she would take out about 20 minutes of time due to these interruptions and not make up the time at all. This was a reoccuring issue and I got fed up with it.

2) Another time, I had a teacher who was constantly late to my lesson (even up to 60-70 minutes). He would have an orchestra rehearsal immediately after my lesson. So, when he was late, the lesson time had to be shortened and he would never make up the time. Other times, he would fail to show up to the lesson and not even contact me by phone or email.

3) Other occurances of "firing" happened when I realized that the teacher was holding me back and not able to take me to the next level.

4) Usually, I prefer to take control of the lesson. When I work with a coach, I hire them to be my "consultant". Therefore, I have an agenda of items and questions that I would like to cover. Some teachers didn't like this approach and thus there were compatability issues. As a result, I had to let the teacher go.

5) The most important reason that I left a teacher was when he/she would be "inflexible" to artistic interpretations and fingering/bowings. I've had teachers who forced me to imitate every phrase and nuance of a piece. When I worked with the artist teachers, most of them allowed me to explore my own artistic interpretations (but suggested their viewpoints and asked me questions to help me come to a realization that something was in good or bad taste).

November 28, 2007 at 07:11 PM · Thanks for all your comments. I've taken them all to heart.


November 28, 2007 at 07:48 PM · Yixi, I wish you were my student...

November 29, 2007 at 01:16 AM · Michael, if you hear me play, you'll turn around and run like crazy before I getting the chance to give you the flowers:)

November 29, 2007 at 03:18 AM · try a cactus?

November 29, 2007 at 05:48 AM · When you can outplay her, then you can switch teachers. How's that for motivation to push your boundries?

November 29, 2007 at 07:00 AM · Outplay her across the board, or just move your bow back and forth faster than her?

November 29, 2007 at 07:05 AM · The latter. We don't want it to take years.

November 29, 2007 at 07:35 AM · I think I'm about to lose some students, then.

November 29, 2007 at 03:50 PM · Let me try giving a shot;

I would request that the two of us spend a session at a table and put down some definable goals. I would give imput to what I would like, what I would expect, and definitely where I want to go, how to get me there, and is this happening, if not then "WHY?"

Second; I reserve myself the option to get a second opinion!!!!

If my goals are realistic, including getting there and my teacher "is" a hinderance then I can say honestly, and with a clear conscience and "Tactfully" I have to move onto someone who can.

Then go home, have a Scotch and listen to Imogen Heap. ;-D

November 29, 2007 at 06:33 PM · Oom whatcha say? ...that you only meant well, well of course you did,

Oom whatcha say? ...that it's all for the best, because it is,

Whatcha say? ...that it's just what we needed, you decided this,

Whatcha say, ooh, what did you say?

November 29, 2007 at 11:02 PM · Heh, wouldn't you like to know;)

I gave a month's notice. By coincidence my work is also going to be in overtime production mode, at that time so it was convenient. I work at a little known game company called Blizzard, for those that would like to know. No, I don't make gold, so don't ask;)


November 30, 2007 at 12:10 AM · I'm not gonna lie, I grew up on Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo 2. What do you do at Blizzard?

And when can we can expect SC2 ;)?

November 30, 2007 at 01:17 AM · I'm a senior finisher for the cinematics dept. I do the cool stuff;)

As for release dates, you know better than to ask me that.

Cool that you like Starcraft 2 though, I worked on 6 of the shots in the teaser, the best ones of course;)


November 30, 2007 at 01:27 PM · All I did was lie to the teacher I was leaving. I told him that because of budget constraints I had to cut out my violin lessons until further notice. My new teacher is awesome!!


December 1, 2007 at 02:28 PM · Personally, as a teacher as well as a player, I respect students who TELL me they are leaveing over ones that just disappear. I then can tell people when I have openings for new students. Also, if the lessons are painful for you, they most likely are for the teacher. You don't need to be blunt, but kindness is always good. You never know who will be your stand partner in the future.

December 1, 2007 at 04:11 PM · Perhaps your teacher feels that you are pushing your boundaries already just by attempting to play the violin :P

Personally, I'm usually pretty happy when adult males stop making haunted house things, they have these iron wrists, you see....and they have jobs, so they don't practice much...and they aren't always good at taking instruction from a woman, so they don't always take your advice on how to's terrible, but sometimes I have to put my head down so they don't see the look in my eye.

That said, one of my best beginners ever is a guy with a full time job. He works hard at it, and has left my other beginners, adult AND child, in the dust :) omg - he

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