I started taking "formal" lessons last week with a teacher I found on the internet. Before I begin, I should give a bit of info about myself. I'm a fulltime jazz musician (guitarist) with a degree in classical music theory. I've loved the violin since I was a child and know quite a lot about violin culture, performance practice, techniques, etc... On top of that, I've had the oppurtunity to play and work with world class violinists. However, I only picked up the violin last december. I didn't have any formal lessons but got lots of tips and advice from a lot of my professional violin friends (who are too busy to give regular lessons). Nonetheless, I was able to make a lot of progress on my own and by pestering them with advice every time I had the chance. I have really good ears so I know when I play out of tune; I am able to go to various positions, depending on what I`m asked to play, I can go up to 4th/5th positions, have started working on vibrato, etc... I would really like to stress that I have practically bathed in violin music of many styles since I was a teenager (i'm 26 now), so I am not ignorant when it comes to violin culture.
anyway I decided I would really like to take it seriously, since I have a lot of free time. I decided to look for regular lessons. I know of some of the best teachers in town but it's not within my budget to study with them (and they probably don't teach adult beginners anyway). I stumbled upon an interesting ad on the internet from a fellow who claims to play all the challenging pieces (paganini caprices, wienawski, etc...) and I was able to negociate a price within my budget.
Well I showed up for a lesson and before entering the room, I heard some violin music and I decided to listen a little bit. I thought he was finishing up with a student. It was the Bach Gm presto from the sonata bwv 1001. The playing was quite average (poor tone, intonation issues). In my opinion, I would say a beginning intermediate student. Well, I walked into the room and realized to my horror, that it was the teacher himself (a man in his late 40s or 50s). Granted he was sightreading the music, but i've been with music students who sightread with better tone and intonation. in his studio, there were a lot of pictures of him from his youth and various newspaper clippings or awards of some sort. I never really examined them.
Anyway, he had me try out a few things and told me that I was quite advanced for the time I was playing. He had me sightread some duets. While we were playing the duets (him playing the other part), I thought I was struggling a lot with the intonation (at home my intonation is usually decent), but here it was downright nasty. Then I realized it was the teacher that was way off, it really made it hard for me adjust to his intonation.
Now here's where I am having trouble deciding.
1)I've already prepaid him for 4 lessons.
2)good teachers don't necessarily mean good players and can at least point me in the right direction
Now if we consider point number 2: I do have a few reservations. He told me that my left forearm should be forward enough (towards the body) that I can see it with the corner of my way while I hold the violin. But when I do that it is rather painful. I realize that the forearm should be forward enough but to tthe point that I can see it in the corner of my eye is really difficult.
there's also the issue of vibrato, now I realize there are different schools of vibrato. One thing I've been told by a cirques du soleil violinist friend, is that when performing vibrato, the left hand should preferably be free, that is that the joint/bottom half of the index finger should not be used to hold the violin. He says most great violinists play that way, and true enough of all the violinists that i've been able to observe, only one had his index stuck to the side of the fingerboard but the result was still good.
with this teacher however, his index finger was practically stuck to the side fingerboard and the result was not pleasant when he performed a vibrato....
my question for you guys are:
1) what are you opinions about the left hand forearm issue
2) vibrato and index finger (what i said above), how do you guys do it? is your left hand free?
His playing is quite average; but the material he 's given me is pretty good (wohlfhart , sevcik etudes, etc...).
I m hesitating though. One thing's for sure, I cannot play duets with him, it'll ruin my intonation.
and I hope he isn't registered in this forum (if you are, I'm really sorry). He was really excited to have me as a student and he said that I have really great potential but I don't know if I can continue with him, and if he asked me why I would stop lessons with him, I would probably have to lie. I don't to want have to tell someone their playing is bad if they don't realize it themselves. Interestingly enough, he seems to make a really good living out of teaching, he seems to have a lot of students and lives in a really nice condo. Tricky!
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