December 13, 2007 at 02:54 AM · share with us some of those moments that change you into a better player, even a better person.....what is that one incident that stands out? make us cry, so be it!

umm, no initials please:):):)

Replies (24)

December 13, 2007 at 07:09 AM · My teacher helped me bring music and joy to my grandfather during his final days, and then prepare me to fulfill his final wishes at his funeral.

My teacher continues to refine my musical skills so that I can share this "gift" with those that I love...

Here is what I sent my teacher for Christmas:

" My Christmas present to you:

Thank You!

- for refining my shifting technique

- for teaching me how to count :)

- for teaching me music theory

- for helping me develop vibrato

- for teaching me how to play with style

- for helping me reach my musical goals

And most importantly to me, is thank you my assisting me in my work/life balance.

You are a really an amazing teacher, coach and musician. "

December 13, 2007 at 07:45 AM · Far too often, we expect our teachers to be like deities, supreme beings with all the answers and all-knowing guidance. So far, none of my teachers have lived up to these expectations, but each one has had something valuable to give to me.

My last teacher, whom I only studied with for a semester, was full of little nuggets of information that I'm still chewing on to this day.

He explained that shifting was a loop in a continuing line, not a fixed destination. He had really good climbing technique when it came to reaching high notes. He related spiccato harmonic notes to ringing bells and explained how this concept could help unleash the tension in my legato bow stroke. He also enlightened me to a really nifty insight about the attack of the fingers on the fingerboard, that they sort of sneak in diagonally into the string, so that if you're really listening and really sensitive, you can always land on the pitch. I never thought of it that way before.

None of these concepts can be explained clearly by written word alone; only a lesson with a teacher could have taught me those things.

But most importantly, he told me I was a fine player and allowed me to give myself permission to aim higher, which was what I needed most at the time.

December 13, 2007 at 08:56 AM · My first teacher's mere presence is why I've persisted. Even though I was fully star-struck, she tolerated my eclectic questions. I knew that someday I'd maybe be on my own--and we went literally all over the place. She's also a babe.

My second masterclass person, taught me to play; and, gave me images decisively about what was holding me back--which I'm finally mastering now. She's a babe too.

My coach pushed me unmercifully, and set standards I almost had to pray about. And I love her forever--we are soul friends, and I think she knows it.

And everybody else--I've written before the whole world slowed me down so I could learn. But they, and you, and everyone here, and there, and everywhere have listened to my whining as I filled in all the gaps from all the other teachers and coaches. And that journey continues.

And, I've been a pretty good teacher to myself too. For me, violin has been compound matter. Rather than 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration,it has been a matter of 100% inspiration, and 100% perspiration.

Someone once said, "be careful what you wish for". This thing is pushing me so hard, but I love it--so be it!. Fortunately, college was this intense or I would not have persisted--so I'd have to thank some teachers there too I guess.

"Fly Higher Jonathan"

December 13, 2007 at 02:06 PM · I love my sons teachers for loving my sons. One especially memorable moment was just before my son's first full solo recital. He was nine years old and very petite for nine. His teacher took him to the front of the stage where they looked out at where the audience would be and put his arm around him. He said "Tonight when you play, just listen to your sound coming back." The teacher said he remembered the smile on his old violin professor's face when he played the Brahms with orchestra and he said he knew just how his old professor must have felt, because he was feeling the same.

December 13, 2007 at 06:04 PM · What a great thread, Al! Thank you!

Earlier this year I switched to tough, Russian, conservatory-trained teacher, who was a big change from my previous "warm and fuzzy" teacher. I'm very happy with my decision, but I've had to develop a thick skin to deal with the constant, "No, no, no! Please! You are not listening!" throughout my lesson.

Recently, as I was bracing to play the Caprice Viennois---which has definitely been a challenge for me---before I started, he said, "Look at you. You're playing such a difficult piece already." And indeed, when he first suggested it a few months ago I didn't think I could do it, but I have, with his expert instruction. It made me realize that he really does see progress in me, and that his style is simply how he gets me to achieve that progress.

(And yeah, I know that some people don't consider that piece difficult, but it is for ME!)

December 14, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Greetings,

Menuhin considered taht piece bloody diifcult. You are in good company.



December 14, 2007 at 03:52 AM · Karin, what kind of bow hold do you use?

December 14, 2007 at 04:09 AM · marriage...?

December 14, 2007 at 02:10 PM · When I took up the violin again, I feared a little bit that a teacher wouldn't expect or ask enough of me, since I obviously have no ambitions to be a concert soloist or professional of any sort. I'm not highly self-motivated (which is why I quit in the first place) and so I need that push.

Well, I'm being pushed. As I advance, more is expected of me, and I appreciate that. I wouldn't be nearly where I am without my teacher. She has more confidence and belief in me than I have in myself much of the time. And she inspires me to practice, to work harder than I ever would have without her.

Thanks Mary Anne.

December 14, 2007 at 03:02 PM · long ago, my math teacher in grade school made a huge impact on me. back then, i was always fearful of math for some reason, and the more fearful i was, the more i avoided math and the so went the viscious cycle. doing ok, but always fearful. one day, in a calm and unrelated setting, he looked into my eyes and said: you are good in math. i was a kid then, not knowing what to make of it, but it was very overwhelming. i knew i was not good in math. i still remember his stare.

so, to save face or something:), i just dove into math, doing question after question, this book and that book, and the more i practiced, the more confident i became. i started to embrace challenges instead of avoiding them. my motivation was originally not to disappoint him, and it gradually evolved into a jumpstart to combat a phobia, with just a line from him, and all on my own.

i wonder, how many kids out there are waiting for someone to simply tell them: hey, you are good in violin...

December 14, 2007 at 03:06 PM · I have been so blessed with fine teachers that I would have to write a series to thank them all, but here goes, in the order they taught me:

Thank you, Sally Trembly - who was one of the first vanguard of women players to play with the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell. You inspired me with your magnificent tone, and always pushed me as far as possible.

Thank you, Richard Parnas - former principal of the National Symphony. Your perfect pitch made you an intonation perfectionist from Hell :). Your dry humor made it bearable, and 'a Kreutzer etude a week' surely got me further along. You never told me I was any good until the day you suggested I go to a conservatory. I still remember the shock.

Then a miracle happened, and I met Max Aronoff.

Mr. Aronoff heard 70 students audition that year, and took on only four. One of them was me - a kid who was way behind the others because I had only played a couple of years at the time. He only took four because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He poured the last years of his life into us, his students, and into the New School he had struggled to build and keep running for many years. Drill, drill, drill -Sevcik, Kreutzer, Sevcik, Kreutzer...I worshipped the ground you walked on. I worked like a slave: four to six hours a day on technical drill, and at my last lesson before you died, you said,

"Play me something."

"You did, it, kid,"

you said when I finished, and that was high praise, indeed. I never saw you alive again. I miss you still. You were my father - my musical father, anyway. Once in a while I talk to you, if I have a problem with playing or a student. I hope you hear me from wherever you are. I'm sure it's a good place - reserved for people who pour themselves out in the service of others.

Thank you, Kim Kashkashian, who took on a devastated Aronoff student, and hammered my repertoire into me. I was still loyal to Mr. Aronoff and his practice routines, and surely was not easy to teach in your own style. You were a fine player and teacher, and I was surely not one of the bright moments in your teaching day, but you taught me my solos, expressive and musical techniques, and developed my bow arm, and in general did one heck of a job. Best wishes to you!

And lastly, thank you, Leonard Mogill. Warm, positive, always smiling and gentle. You taught me everything I know about orchestral playing, and since you were with the Philadelphia Orchestra from the age of 17, you were all I needed. At age 74, you could still rip off a note-perfect 'Don Juan' without even warming up! You were the one who encouraged me, who told me I was talented, and that I would make it. You prepared my first audition with me, and when I got the job you said,

"See? I told you you would!"

If Mr. Aronoff was my father, then you were my uncle - the one who always had candy in his pockets :) I loved you, too, and I miss you.

Thank you to every one of you - I have had a lifetime in music because of your gifts, talents, and willingness to share them with others. God bless you all, wherever you are.

December 14, 2007 at 04:15 PM · Oh Julie, I could just cry reading what you wrote about your teachers. How wonderful.

And so hard to put into words what it is to have a good teacher give you the gift of music over a span of years. I kind of see my own teacher as a magnificent mama bird, coming back again and again, showing over and over how to sing, how to fly. We can sing together now and I can flap my wings a bit, but haven't left the nest and flown into the open sky yet. It's such an amazing experience!

December 14, 2007 at 09:11 PM · Thanks, Buri. I've just read lots of comments here about "oh, try Kreisler's Caprice Viennois, it's not that hard" and I want to yell, "YES IT IS!" :P

Albert, I don't know how to answer that question. How many kinds of bow holds are there? Do they have names?

December 14, 2007 at 09:13 PM · Well, there's some fancy names for them: Franco-Belgian and Russian--maybe more? Oh yes--there's probably many accepted fiddle holds, each having perhaps a regional uniqueness here or there.

When you said Russian, I had just changed my bow hand to one that focuses on 'first-outer' joints rather than first inner joints.

I think I was wondering if your new strict(er) teacher wanted your bow hand changed as well. It's my perhaps imperfect understanding that Russian is a heavier hand, with joints roughly aligned as mine use to be.

December 14, 2007 at 09:56 PM · Ah, ok...thanks for the explanation. I haven't made any fundamental changes in my bow hold; he mostly makes me think about where the motion is coming from (fingers, wrist, arm) I guess I usually have the stick in the first inner joints.

December 14, 2007 at 10:09 PM · karin, it is amazing you can find time/energy to study with that intensity. not sure if you saw this clip by michael rabin..

December 14, 2007 at 10:29 PM · Thanks, Al!! No, I hadn't seen it, and now I'm annoyed with myself that I hadn't thought to look on YouTube before. My teacher claimed there was a fantastic clip of Rabin playing the Caprice Viennois on the Art of Violin DVD, but when I looked it was only the Tambourin Chinois. Unfortunately I can't watch YouTube at work and my recital is tonight, so it's a little late to help with my performance, but I'll watch it later for inspiration. :) Sorry for hijacking this thread, which I think is a great one.

December 14, 2007 at 11:06 PM · When I was aged 10, the headmaster of my prmary school told me it was too late to be good at a muscial instrument. I had just started to learn the piano. I thought "I'll show him". I got good at it. Music however is not my chosen profession. Now at age 45 I have been learning the violin for the last 3 years and intend to be good at it.

December 16, 2007 at 06:09 PM · Oh al, you really shouldn’t start this one. Now am I going to type into the wee hour to go over all those countless monumental moments of my life? No way! But here is my way out:

I need to define “teacher”: almost everyone can be my teacher in some sense. It could include my dearest grandmother, an illiterate Chinese old lady who knew nothing about western music, but listened with great interest and was made so happy to hear my playing and describing Mozart VC no. 3. At the time very little western music was allowed to play publicly, and I never heard the piece before and I was on my own teacherless. Mozart made sense to me and to her at that moment with almost no cultural connection or cultivation. How can you explain this magic is one thing, how I was affected by this is another. But I'm pretty sure that it is the combination of the both that has constantly been driving me towards violin.

Then there’re others at the same time who were so negative about my playing. They would report to my teachers in school and the political carders that I was playing something ‘reactionary’ at home. I was only in my grade 4 or 5 then and would from time to time be called to the teachers office to confess, to show them the sheet music and the music theory books that I was working on, etc. It was persecution of some sort for sure. Yet, being the kind of kid I was, it only made me more curious about violin and western music. These people are my teachers that I probably should thank them for what unintended positive affect they have made on me.

Then it came to my first violin teacher. A passionate young man who has some defect in his left hand that made it impossible for him to play professionally. I was his favorite student and received a lot intense frequent lessons from him and progressed very fast. I was so mesmerized by his music so that my father mistook it to be an inappropriate girl-boy affection and put a way too quick end to our lessons. One can end these lessons, but one can’t end the fire for the music. For that, I forever grateful to him, Mr. Hou.

After that, my teachers are one after the other more amazing when time goes on, but I’ve got to take a break here.

Edit: it should be 'effect' but not 'affect'.

December 16, 2007 at 08:47 AM · I hear you Yixi. Darl'n, that's just old school. I bet your young inspired teacher could play professionally, if, he wished. You should at least, put him out on youtube! ;)

December 16, 2007 at 01:32 PM · yixi, have you come across that documentary called from Mao To Mozart about Issac Stern's trip to china when it first "opened" up? reminds me very much of your experiences.

December 16, 2007 at 06:11 PM · I think I heard the book but haven't got to it yet. Will put on my reading list. Thanks Al!

December 16, 2007 at 06:34 PM · yixi, it is actually a film, a documentary that even won some award (was it oscar for best ducumentary?). i got a dvd copy online.

if you type the word: from mao to mozart on youtube, you should be able to access clips of it. i am confident it will bring back memories...:) or :(

here is one:

December 20, 2007 at 08:07 AM · Thanks al for the link! They do bring back a lot of memory... and seeing some of those Chinese violinists playing with so much tension also makes unfortunate sense ;-( Now I'm waiting for my DVD!

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