Hi everyone, I am new here. Presently, I am in a situation that gives me much discomfort. I would like to seek the advice of the teachers and fellow parents here. It is long, so please bear with me.
My daughter has been learning the violin since she is 4, and has been advancing quite well.
We recently moved to a new city, and found a new violin teacher. Let's call him Mr A.
Mr A, on seeing my child, immediately said the she needs a full size violin. She has been playing on a 3/4. He took my child's 3/4 violin (incidentally, is from a pretty well known maker), and said that it is a China violin, it is no good. He proceeded to say that he has a few violins of various prices for us to choose from. Then he took out a violin, and asked us to take it home.
Over the course of 2 months, we were asked to bring home a few more violins, some more expensive, some less. The violins look old, and a few had labels that say 1924, 1936, etc, with oldish sounding names. I took one of them to my neighborhood luthier and he said (tactfully) to ignore the labels.
OK, back to the violins. They seemed to be old violins (though probably not as old as the labels imply), and restored in a rough manner. One of them has a few long cracks, and glued back and roughly "lacquered". One has such thick and uneven varnish (shellac?) that my younger child said it looked like maple syrup, and proceeded to pretend that he is spreading syrup on pancake. One of the violins has a bad peg that could not go all the way in. I think the hole was not done properly. Sound wise, they are reasonable, though weak on the G strings, especially on high positions.
I think Mr A buys old violins and refurbishes them himself. His work as a luthier, is very rough.
So one day my daughter had enough of the peg slipping and told me that she will not play on that violin anymore. With trepidation, on the next lesson, I returned the violin to Mr A and told him that with apologies, we are not buying the violin. We still have a trade in credit with the 3/4 violin, and we will travel back there to get a full size. Mr A was not happy. He told me that my daughter needs a good violin, that violin shops will charge a high price, that China violins are not good, etc... We do have a spare full size violin that belongs to my family, that my daughter could practice on in the meantime. Mr A asked me to bring it to the lesson so that he could take a look at it. I do not look forward to what he would say about that violin.
Over the weekend, he called me on my cell and asked me about the violin again, does my child like the violin, etc. I almost felt that I was being harassed.
That is the long and short of my story.
So what do you think? Do you think it is ethical for a teacher to push his own violins, even to the extent of badmouthing other makers? Is it right to pressurize parents to buy the teacher's violins? Am I justified to feel harassed?
On the other hand, I reflected that perhaps I had led Mr A on that I will buy his violins, that I took too long to tell him no. What could I do to placate him? Pay him a rental equivalent for the 2 month period?
I am looking at changing a new teacher. The last thing I want is for my child to dread going to lessons for fear of what he teacher would remark about the violin he is using.
Thank you all for your patience. Thanks to forum admin for publishing this. It is a long post.
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