Leaving my Violin teacher

June 11, 2013 at 10:11 PM · I know it's typical but how do I do it? She's cares about me so much despite only knowing me for a few months maybe. We connect very well on a personal level and I can tell that she will consider it a loss to lose me. I feel guilty. She also made exceptions for me , by cutting the price of my lessons by almost half because we come from far away, and I was clearly very interested in the violin. I don't want to see her face when I tell her. She's gonna take it al really serious.

One reason I need to leave her is yes, it's a 45 minute drive and I'm having someone give me a ride at a rather inconvenient time for both of us, but that's all she could do for me, she teaches at a very prestigious university. I also feel that I am not learning much from her because I don't resonate with her teaching strategies, I could ask her to switch them but I know she wouldn't approve and that's embarrassing to me. I'm also getting increasingly busy and may have decided to focus on a different instrument. Her presence makes me nervous when I play. My mind always drifts and I can't focus somehow otherwise I'm overly tense and play out of tune. I don't feel myself somehow so I think it's incompatibility. Also, she's fun and enduring to be around but not motivating and I don't feel the ambition I usually do with music.

Replies would help. I think I have to do it on Wednesday night.

Replies (24)

June 11, 2013 at 10:53 PM · Oh my this sounds extremely close to why I had to drop my other private teacher. It was most of the same things; we connected on a personal level and I would feel sometimes nervous while playing around her. I also felt like I didn't learn as I wanted. I could have asked her to get more intense, but I feel like that would do nothing much.

My advice is to talk to her. Tell her your focus has gone onto another instrument and that you want to spend more time with it, meaning you would need to stop taking lessons with her. I'm sure she will understand because you have ony known each other for a couple months but I kow that looks can be deceiving. Talk to her and tell her the truth. Either she will be completely accepting or get angry. Really her reaction doesnt matter too much because this decision is what will make you happy. If you feel like you will learn better with someone else, you have to order your priorities. If you want to focus on a different instrument, it is your right to change focus and get a different teacher.

It's hard, but it's one of those decision you will most like have to make again (even if not in music) so might as well get used to the experience.

Hope I helped and good luck!

June 12, 2013 at 12:25 AM · I think I should tell her that truth, that I have chosen to switch instruments but not that I might get another violin teacher... The thing is that now, after I finished school she's been asking more of me so I think that's why she wasn't demanding much from me before but I was also always scared to ask her to accommodate my ambitions. This is why I think I will feel guilty for leaving her, because I never did the best I could and I think that guilt might affect me. I'm almost hypersensitive. She's so into me... The thing where the decision will make me happy despite her reaction isn't true for me. I'm such a drama queen but it's true! It doesn't matter that it's only been a few months.

June 12, 2013 at 12:44 AM · "I don't resonate with her teaching strategies"

Please explain.

June 12, 2013 at 12:55 AM · What instrument are you taking up instead?

June 12, 2013 at 01:08 AM · Try not to talk yourself into living your life for other people. Would they live theirs for you?

Are all violin teachers neurotic, when it comes to students?

June 12, 2013 at 02:26 AM · Lileaven,

You can do this; you will be fine. I understand the hypersensitive. I literally cried for days after I left my other teacher. I don't regret dropping her even though I knew that she was really enthusiastic about me. I miss talking to her, but I'm happy with my decision. Make sure you do it right so that you don't do it wrong so that you regret it. Everything will work out. Talk to her and everything will work out.

June 12, 2013 at 06:35 AM · quoting - "I don't resonate with her teaching strategies"

Please explain.

Well when I first met her she was very intent on holding be back without doing much testing or giving me much of a chance to try things. Part of this was my fault because was I just overly shy and uncommunicative. Also, you couldn't exactly blame her. I have been playing for about 2 year total, but only been practicing for 1 year or so because I had to keep stopping in between for various reasons. I really enjoyed violin and music quickly became my passion so I already had vibrato, played in tune, had a decent tone and I was playing things like Vitali Chaconne and Brahms Sonata in D Minor. The thing is I get super nervous in front of people and it's impossible for me to be my best and I know that when I am I can play pieces of this level well. That is not to say that it is not without effort and being extremely focused. But after making many mistakes I know that I have the ability to improve them very quickly if I have the desire. It's true it does start out very bad but she wasn't willing to believe that it didn't matter if I had never learned this technique or how to shift and that if she taught it to me on the spot and gave me some room, I would bring it back sounding fine. And the proof is that I studied with another professor and it worked out perfectly each time, it was tedious but exhilarting at the same time for both of us. When I would play in front of my tuner everything would be in tune as well. What was more disappointing is how badly she underestimated me, it was so smothering. She didn't even think I understood the concept of sharps/flats or half steps and such simple things like that. It's like I was violating something to be able to read music in one year. I'm very driven when I'm passionate about something and I also have a dream of becoming successful in music despite starting at 16 and I can't have someone halting that if it's not absolutely necessary. Nothing can be compromised because I'm already so on the edge of things. I didn't tell her directly but I tried to give the impression that I would be willing to do a mass of techinical excercises for a period of time to get where I want to be. She also has an annoying habit of expanding on things that won't affect the big picture such as the vocabulary used in music. It's really...not that hard to pick up a book and memorize 100 terms within a week if necessary. I'm not taking these lessons for weekly enrichment. The bottom line is, she doesn't have the drive that I want and it can't be that difficult to find it in a teacher. She is also overly curious, it's not the questions she asks themselves, it's how visibly interested she is in my personal life. I know one of the main reasons why she took me with so many favors is because how she views me as a person through my personal life so naturally she'd want to keep herself updated on it. I don't know I just find something a bit disturbing about her always trying to get under my skin but it isn't out of malice. She really cares about me. She will ask too many questions and I am not a talkative person and ask for responses I can't give. When I say "I don't know" she will say "how do you not know?" and then I will say I don't want to talk about it and she will say "why not?" and eventually it will go to "so you think I am nosy?" and I will say no..... and so on. She's pretty smart. Sometimes she asks what I want to play and if I like anything but I don't honestly like anything if it's not something popular and therefore, likely an advanced piece but I'll still do everything to get the techinical abilities that I need to achieve. So I didn't like anything she was teaching me and I didn't know how to answer her but I can't tell her what I do like because she doesn't want to do it. She doesn't know how much that meant to me, at least I don't think so.

The bottom line is, I believe it depends on the person whether or not the process can be rushed and I'm sure that in my case, it can. She tends to think I lack musicality but that's not true even if I didn't play it for her. I understand it and that it was matter, it's not like I'm not grasping it or and anything she's saying is easy to solve. I want those wonderful moments during lessons when we are cracking a hard pieces and everything is just clicking in my head wonderfully and I rush home to spiff the piece up. I feel like I'm getting somewhere. I really want to whole thing!! I can totally see flickers of disappointment on her face because I haven't practice 3 times since I started lessons with her and she's beginning to doubt the talent she thought I had. She's probably sad about herself too, wondering why that's the case. I think it's cool to know that she's not sure whether or not I practice when I never practiced!

Sorry this was my time to vent. Should have written some of it out ages ago. I bet this leaves a lot of questions in the heads of whoever is reading this. Ask away.

How do you make quote bubbles on this forum?

June 12, 2013 at 06:38 AM · Nairobi Young -

I guess I'm not that bad off at all! I don't think I will cry, just feel guilt inside. I doubt I'll regret the decision, I'll just be upset thinking about her feelings.

What would you call doing it right?

June 12, 2013 at 06:39 AM · The other instrument is piano, I've been playing it for about the same amount of time.

June 12, 2013 at 06:41 AM · Eric -

You make a good point. Where did neurotic come from?

June 12, 2013 at 07:50 AM · " I can totally see flickers of disappointment on her face because I haven't practice 3 times since I started lessons with her and she's beginning to doubt the talent she thought I had"

so do you practice daily/near daily or not? How many hours per day?

what pieces and etudes is she currently giving you to work on? does she regularly give you etudes and scales?

why would you want to drop the violin so easily? what are your choices based on?

how can you manage to learn two instruments at the same time at the beginner's level?

does the personal chitchat eat into the timespan of the lesson?

June 12, 2013 at 07:59 AM · "so do you practice daily/near daily or not? How many hours per day?"

I would say that I practiced daily. I didn't practice an hour everyday even. I couldn't and won't if I don't see the time going anywhere efficient. I am defeintely willing to though.

"what pieces is she currently giving you to work on? does she give you etudes and scales?"

I'm working on some extremely easy Bartok duets and a suzuki grade 5 piece. I have a couple scales, no etudes. The lessons aren't very structured.

"why would you want to drop the violin so easily? what are your choices based on?"

Any choice I make is based on preference, did I say anywhere that I am dropping violin? I intend to practice both but need to focus on one which I need to make a thread about somewhere because I am really struggling with the choice.

"how can you manage to learn two instruments at the same time at the beginner's level?"

You would call me a beginner? does it go by time or what a student's capability is? Why can't I?

June 12, 2013 at 08:14 AM · Lileaven,

"I'm also getting increasingly busy and may have decided to focus on a different instrument."

i understood that by focusing on another instrument, you would be dropping the violin. now taht you've clarified, i think that, effectively, you won't have time for an instrument that requires a lot of practice time. you are already spending less than an hour daily (as you say). by focusing less, do you imagine you will spend less than 30 minutes? 20,10?

my suggestion is first to identify which instrument you want to focus on and, for the time being, focus exclusively on it if you want to make a lot of progress. and then put time into it. professional students practice 2 to 4 hours daily -if not more- and even amateurs who progres faster than others practice at least an hour or more daily.

as for the teacher, i completely appreciate your concern with ill-structured lessons. and i think you have made your mind up. a lesson should encompass basic techinique excercises, scales, etudes and peices.

also, there are some DVDs and books that you can get that will also help you focus on basic techniques that you can practice on your very own to supplement (and not replace) your teacher's assignments.

June 12, 2013 at 08:27 AM · I thought you were referring to the past - most of the 1 or 2 years it's been. At the moment I practice 5 hours of piano but do not know if I want to do it on piano or violin, I will practice 1 hour a day on my second instrument.

Her personal chat does eat a bit, that doesn't seem to be the problem though. She gives me an hour instead of 45 minutes anyways.

June 12, 2013 at 11:19 AM · Hi,

I was half joking with the rhetorical question about "neurotic". It seems there have been other threads where students were afraid to upset/offend their teacher by changing.

I was wondering about your learning style. Do you pick up on fingering patterns/movement easily? Is it theory based or.... ?

June 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Lileaven,

Make sure that you don't insult her as you leave. My teacher some how got offended by something I said, and I never understood how or why. Let her know that you don't feel structured, and that you spend much more time on piano, which is your real passion. If she is any type of musician, she will understand why you want to move on. When you have a passion for something, you want to put your all into that which can only happen if you have the time for it.

I must also say you sound pretty impressive to only have been playing two years. And also with the shyness, it's something you will have to break through to become successful. You will need to be able to communicate to a lot of different people. You can only get good results if you let your voice be heard. This is one of those situations where you have to let your voice be heard. And I feel that you should be able to communicate with your teacher especially when you feel that you should be doing and learning more. That's part of the relationship that you should have with your private teacher. I wish you luck!

June 12, 2013 at 06:35 PM · Here's what you should say:

"My life is in a state where I really can only give the appropriate amount of time and mental energy to one instrument, and after a lot of soul-searching I decided my instrument will be the piano. I am sure that I will be able to apply a lot of the musical insight that I have gained from you on the piano. But I have decided not to continue on the violin, and that means I will not be coming for any more lessons."

If she cries or gets mad, then she really shouldn't be a university violin professor.

June 12, 2013 at 06:51 PM · I would imagine your teacher may be interested in correcting your fundamentals.

That would seem to feel frustrating to you, as you appear to be driven to go as fast as you can to more and more difficult pieces.

Somewhat recently I sold a violin to someone who was predominantly self-taught and had been playing for about 10 years. They certainly had an expansive repertoire of advanced numbers, but man was it ever sloppy.

My advice:

Go watch "The Karate Kid", and remember the importance of "wax on, wax off"...

Wax on....

Use your zeal to focus on the fundamentals. Exercises such as Sevcik, Wolfhart, etc. are not terribly melodious or satisfying to play, but are the "vitamins" you need to grow to be a competent violinist.

That said, perhaps the fit of this teacher may not be correct for you. But whatever teacher you find you need to respect their judgment as to what is best for you. That is the whole point of having a teacher.

June 12, 2013 at 07:45 PM · Everyone has offered great advice and comments. I've nothing more to add, but wanted to simply wish you best of luck. You're in a tough situation, but it's good that you're facing it and have plans to follow through. Trust your instincts here. And be kind, to her and yourself both.

Again, everyone else has already said it all so well. Best of luck to you!

June 12, 2013 at 09:36 PM · I think you already decided to leave this teacher. It may be good for you. Generally I would speak to her directly, but maybe she already read about it here ;). But you are "only" a customer of her so she shouldn't take it too seriously. Teacher who want to be friends of the student immediately are suspicious to me anyways. In my opinion there has to be a very serious and formal approach to a lesson, because music(business) is a serious thing.

June 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM · After reading the OP's long clarifications and responses. It seems to me, that your teacher is compensating. If conscious ur subconscious she tries to be nice, because her teaching isn't what it should be.

In my opinion you need a really demanding teacher, wich bombards you with information about technique and qays to practice. I was at a similar point like you about 5 years ago, still in my studying years. I was quite pleased with my current teacher but I learned to know a teacher wich who I can progress much much faster and probably to a level I couldn't reach with my old teacher. The funny thing is, my old teacher believed in me and let me know that and was nice to me. My new teacher told me sometimes I will never manage to do some things right. That was rude, but it didn't matter to me, because she gave me all information I needed to improve my playing, I went home from a lesson and didn't know how I should manage to improve all the things she pointed out until next lesson. So I started practicing much more than with my old teacher. And in fact by then I learned what I should actually practice to improve.

There are different types of teaching. You are very polite and don't call her teaching "bad", that is right, but it's not fitting your demands. You are willing to bleed for music and to work hard but you need good instructions, on the piano you cannot do su much wrong like on the violin.

I tend to get very radical when I rate my teachers: I was very lucky to have a good teacher for my early years, but I feel like I should have left her sooner, instead I dropped the violin for two years. After I wet to study I had a teacher who would let me play everything (wich is good, because I learned to know difficult literature through that) but her demand on quality was not high enough for me, she would always say "its good, what else" after I played in a group lesson. My last teacher and I simply call her the "best" was a real virtuoso, she came from russia via finland to teach in hanover for 4 years. She brought amazing students from finland with her and had such a high demand on quality that she throwed people out of her class if they didn't keep up. I kept up, I worked so hard, but she kept on saying " I am not sure about you" That even made me try harder. In the end she left germany to teach at guillard. She wrote me such a beautiful mail in the end, where she said one thing, wich made me so full of hope. She said, Simon, you can play very well if you practice. That, out of her mouth, after such hard years with her, knowing her standard... it was something wich motivated me even after she left. I did my diploma on my own, never had a real lesson again at my university since then, because they didn't have place (I hate my university for that) but I also didn't want lessons with all those stupid teachers. Some I payed for a lesson (too much) and the lessons were disappointing like you said. Sometimes teaching at a conservatory not necessarily means you are a good teacher. The mind games my last teacher played with me were on the edge, but they also got me on my edge and it helped me a lot. I miss her a lot now, violinistic. Also as a person but mainly as a teacher, as a source of knowledge, ready to give it away to you in high tempo and really WORK on things.

I had some lessons with other good players since that, but nothing came up to her level. So finding a good teacher like you need can be a long journey. Look out for the ones who are a little bit feared by students, the hard dogs, as long as they are fair and as long as you can take them, they will bring you ahead the fastest.

Long story short. She is definetily not the right teacher for you and you should look for something else if you want to progress on your violin. In the meantime, listen to good recordings, read books about violin technique and teaching.

June 25, 2013 at 05:11 PM · I read up only to the first long reply:

* You don't practice, resulting in inevitable poor performance in the lesson room--of course she's underestimating you.

* You don't have favorite music.

* You won't respond to her attempts to reel you into the lesson.

She's grasping at straws. And because you're self-conscious and likely introverted (so am I) you take her attempts to connect with you personally--to draw you out--you take that as disturbingly interested in you. She's probably fearful that if she gets tougher, it will make *you* cry. She just doesn't understand introverts.

Ultimately, it's not she who's under estimating you. You're under-estimating you. I also don't think she's your creepy weekly stalker. So start practicing. Start listening to music to know what you like. You cannot be passionate as you claim and only practice if you feel the momentary urge and don't know what you like.

You're the captain of your ship, so take command.

Anyway, I hope it all worked out (I didn't read the rest).


I just skimmed the rest. Yeah, your mind was moving to the piano and I think you were self-sabotaging, which was also wasting her time. I seriously doubt this university prof is going to start crying or become a neurotic mess, so rest easy. I'm glad you made your decision--it's probably best for everyone, including your ride. ;)

Good luck!

June 25, 2013 at 10:44 PM · thank you C V. I think that was the best response to this weirdo thread, I'd been bothered throughout.

It harkened back to earlier threads by Katrina Thurlow and Skylar Nguyen, they just seemed to have so much odd angst sparking off in all directions. At some point this stuff does affect other people. even at the distance of a violin forum there is genuine concern for welfare of young people and we get sucked in, but the back of my mind is never settled. Too much time spend in youth mental health systems I think.

July 6, 2013 at 03:08 PM · Angst? I vaguely remember deciding that from age 13 onwards, I no longer wanted stories, films etc, to finish well! I recall a phrase of Dostoevski's about the "indulgent melancholy of the adolescent", which annoyed me; as an introverted and non-combative teen-ager, I could explore the new sensations and feelings of my age before the "real" world would catch up with me with its compromises, corruption, and sheer bad faith.

I have students like this: I should dearly love to follow what's in their minds, but I just try to be practical, and not suffocate them with amateur psychology. Anyway, as a man, I haven't a clue!

They seem to appreciate this kind of "friendly neutrality".

Progress? As a teacher I have to balance my students' ambitions with what I percieve to be their acquired skills. I notice that the rare students who leave me for a colleague don't advance any better, (although they may think they do, which is important).

Extraverts have this visceral intolerance of the introvert. Personally I try to avoid the words like "maturity" and "motivation" which drove me mad at the time (and still do!) But then I am just a well-meaning but stupid male softy..

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