Shouting at students?
My teacher,of whom I must say I respect a lot, tends to shouting at me when I don't play it to her standard, and, when that happens, I tend to just tense up and get nervous. The consequence is that I won't even be able to play a one octave scale intune, not to mention the chords in Bach's Partitas. And we will then spend a gazillion minutes on 2 bars to fix something that I could play well under normal circumstances. The very frustrating thing is that the more I get shouted at, the more I tense up and the worse I play, which leads to my teacher getting more upset, and to shout more; this cycle countinues untill we both basically die of exhaustion.
I respect and like my teacher very much,since normally she gives great advices, but I feel utterly helpless when she gets angry at me.
One of her more soul destroying things she said is: "you should be be ashamed of yourself for playing this blasphemously, especially when you are capable of playing better, this is a disgrace to the entire profession!"
What can one ever say to that?
I really don't know what to do.
Find another teacher.
I think you can be direct, especially if you intend to find another teacher. You can inform your teacher that the way that they are communicating is not helpful. Remember that although a student/teacher relationship isn't entirely a regular business relationship, you are ultimately their customer.
I don’t think people can really change.
Maybe annotate that leather bound score you give her, with helpful reminders of where shouting tends to result in intonation errors?
Get a new teacher. My teachers have always been direct and honest when something wasn't great, but never raised their voices or said things like your quote.
I think that some people with a certain constitution can probably do pretty well and come out unscathed by an abusive teacher, if the teacher is somehow really good otherwise. I would think that either those people really really know who they are and don't internalize any of their teacher's personal issues, or that they are used to being abused and it's how they already motivate themselves. I would guess that the latter are headed for a breakdown anyway. Unless you are emotionally made of teflon, I would get out of there. There's gotta be good teachers that have their heads together in your area.
I don't want to make any assumptions here. But it has been my experience that individuals who originate from non-American cultures are often much more sensitive to even slightly raised voices than we typically are here. Sometimes they hear yelling when we're just being enthusiastic.
Neither the OP nor his teacher are in North America.
Okay, then that's probably not it. To have one's teacher yelling and shouting just seems so hard for me to envision. I don't think I would tolerate that.
Kind of sounds like your respect for your teacher is misplaced.
Get a new teacher immediately.
Good news is, if you ever learn to relax while she is yelling, stage fright will be a piece of cake compared to your experience!
I tend to agree with Rocky, and suspect some cultural element in the “shouting” approach (Orient?), which by North American standard may seem out of place. The important thing is that you need to communicate to your teacher the effect it has on your performance, which is counter productive for either of you. You either learn to take it as a genuine care by your teacher for you (otherwise why should she bother), or have an open discussion with her in the hope that she might tone her enthusiasm down and cater to your feelings.
Shout back at her :)
See it on the bright side: She gets angry and frustrated because she believes in you and expects the very best (which means that she thinks you can deliver the very best).
Yelling at a student is like swearing. It might be effective to make a really big point...once. Maybe twice.
In my opinion a teacher of any subject must first be able to master his/her own emotions. That's a basic component of adulthood. Shouting once as a strategy, OK...I wouldn't do it but I could see its potential effectiveness. Shouting as a regular occurrence means that the teacher is not able to control her own frustration. That's a big red flag. I would not tolerate it.
Calling me a stupid pig is fine if you make me become good. But that’s only me ...
That's really unfortunate.
My piano teacher was of international renown and not only shouted but stamped her foot. I knew it was
The more I read on these posts about the odd behavior of some teachers, the better I feel about my own efforts. If we follow the money, technically the teacher is an employee of the student (or parents). In earlier centuries we would be considered servants.
In my life experience I have found that abused people tend to become abusers. Unfortunately, there is a long tradition in the world of music where teachers, conductors, and others in positions of authority are abusive.
Harvey Shapiro was a very well known and excellent cello teacher who taught at Juilliard for many years. He was well known for shouting obscenities at his students. It turned out that this was something he was unable to control. He was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome late in his life.
Speaking of Tourette's, first thing I thought of re: OP, was some processing issue that may interfere with playing parts that might not even be challenging at other times. This may frustrate the teacher. Does the teacher yell/scream frequently, or only when certain types of mistakes are made? Are the problematic passages easier ones that shouldn't be a challenge, or the new material you're working on? Does it feel like your brain 'floods' and there's all of a sudden too much to process? Sometimes, do you have excellent concentration and can play really well, but other times you just can't get it together?
Depends on where the OP is- I'm guessing he isn't in the States. In some cultures and countries, it's normal, even expected, for violin teachers (any instrument, really) to raise their voices, put students down ("garbage" was a favorite of my teacher), even employ corporal punishment if the situation called for it. And parents were usually on board with it. Heck, I think shouting was the gentlest of punishments my teacher ever threw at me...
I think that a shout is a shout, and it's not abusive or demeaning or disrespectful. It can be, but only if the things said are abusive, demeaning or disrespectful.
Over the course of a highly successful career, one of the things that I have learned is that I should strive to avoid environments where toxic people stay employed. It's one thing to temporarily deal with people who actively add negative value, until they are Invited to Seek Success Elsewhere, and another to tolerate working in such environments for the long term. Toxic people drive high performing employees away, and if they are allowed to stay, the entire environment deteriorates. No thanks.
@Carlos- funny you mention canes.
More and more I find myself defending (vigorously but not violently!) our soft-bellied "western" culture. We are not circus animals (a different, but linked, topic...)
@Adrian- I did not mean to imply that. No disrespect meant. I’m sure also that life doesn’t end and begin with corporal punishment, and that what works on one kid may not work on the other.
When I open up the discussion and scan the threads at the top this one always reads "shooting at students" at first glance.
Corinne, no disrespect from me either! But if a teacher needs to shout, or even use mild physical violence, to me it is a sign of gross incompetence, however good the results; if punishment is part of their satisfaction in teaching, to my mind they are sick, however many "survivors" they produce.
@Adrian- totally agree with you, but when something like that has been... normalised, for lack of a better word, it’s hard to see it as anything out of the ordinary. Especially since corporal punishment isn’t exclusive to the music studio- parents (or at least, the older generation) routinely whupped the living daylights out of their kids for being sassy smart mouths, for getting subpar grades... you know, the whole Asian nine yards.
I appreciate the honesty! Another thread (long, but now deleted) went off the rails when "Asian" was linked to the Tiger Parent Syndrome, and not only in the mouths of "occidentals".
Most of you seem to live in a violin teacher's paradise...
I generally disagree with shouting, but context matters. Does the teacher shout also when they're excited about something you did right? When they shout a criticism, do they end with a smile to let you know that they're on your side?
Your teacher is not a teacher. A teacher is a guide, not a jerk. Never go back to that person again. You owe that individual nothing. Someone who finds it necessary to shout at a student is ineffective and insecure. Move on and don't look back.
The OP asks "what can one say to that?"
I can really relate to Corinne Chen's comment. She is probably from the same country as me and same generation. And it is true, that is the old Asian way of excelling. I still remember getting caned by the teacher because my score on the exam was 2 points below my score from the previous mid-term (e.g. going from 100% to 98%). You get 2 whips! I think the worst thing was going in front of the class and being humiliated.
@Tom, you wouldn’t happen to be related to this old lady here, would you?
Tobias Seyb said: "I have quite a lot of lazy, and unmotivated students. It's a shame, but I can't choose and work elsewhere for some reason."
I am old enough to remember classroom teachers shouting at pupils and visiting corporal punishment on the errant ones (everyone!) - a strap on the hand usually, the cane being reserved only for the most serious offences and then wielded only by the Headmaster. This was the norm in Britain in those days. A notable exception I remember was our Latin teacher; he never raised his voice or used corporal punishment, inculcating instant respect from the whole class, seemingly without effort. He later went on to become the Head of one of the most prestigious grammar schools in England.
I am old enough to remember classroom teachers shouting at pupils and visiting corporal punishment on the errant ones (i.e. everyone!) - a strap on the hand usually, the cane being reserved only for the most serious offences and then wielded only by the Headmaster. This was the norm in Britain in those days. A notable exception to the "beat-it-into-'em" method was our Latin teacher; he never raised his voice or used corporal punishment, inculcating instant respect from the whole class seemingly without effort. He later went on to become the Head of one of the most prestigious grammar schools in England.
Corinne, one of the useful life realizations I had in my adulthood is this: Just because an abusive behavior is normalized by a culture, doesn't make it non-abusive. What you are describing is abuse, plain and simple, and it damages the children who experience it. It turns them into damaged adults with a Stockholm Syndrome sort of reaction to that abuse.
That's why beating children has been forbidden by law here in Germany, no matter what traditional and christian circles thought about it.
Read "Coercion and Its Fallout" by Murray Sidman. Not only does it not work, but abusive teaching or training prevents the subject from learning. Get a new teacher.
I would say that people who were beaten as kids and grew up to be secure undamaged well functioning individuals did so not because of such an upbringing but in spite of it.
100% agree with the previous four posters.
Leaving out morality and abuse (which really shouldn't be left out, but trying to make a point here):
I am not going to defend any kind of corporal or psichological punishment. They are wrong and are usually the tool of ineffectual pedagogues.
A good teacher is a compassionate & supportive teacher. They support you mentally with encouragement & show compassion when you fail. They show you the good path when you were wrong, not with punishment but through understanding. To get that “understanding” is a different skill set that only committed teachers posses.
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