Why is having multiple teachers at the same time a problem?
For yeas, we dutifully follow the convention of having one violin teacher at a time. The discussion in another thread about changing teacher and the moral “agonizing” over it got me thinking.
All teachers have multiple students and yet students are expected to have one teacher at a time. From discussion with various violin teachers, it appears that having multiple teachers at a time amounts to “cheating”!
If money is not an issue for the student, why should the process of benefiting from multiple perspectivess be such big problem for teachers?
Just to note, if by moral agonizing you imply mine, it would not be over having multiple teachers but over finishing lessons with one teacher to begin with another. Otherwise, interesting topic..interested to read the responses.
Not a very good idea for a beginner. The beginner needs one good teacher who can see and address his problems and needs, and provide the all important continuity over the first two or three years. In those early stages multiple teachers could well be giving conflicting advice and instructions - starting with the bow hold, for instance.
Tammuz, It is kind of related in the sense in that being able to benefit from multiple perspectives somehow needs an explanation; and that there may be “serious consequences” if it is not done carefully.
Trevor, what about an adult student who is, say, at the so called “Bruch level” or there about and is paying his own way?
My teacher is travelling a lot at the moment, and has offered to set me up with another teacher until they return. I am considering taking one or two lessons with the other teacher to get a different ( current teacher approved ;) ) perspective on my playing. If I do this, I'll report back.
I don't think it's necessarily harmful so long as the two have harmonious views about the big stuff like whether you should be using a shoulder rest or whether you should use synthetic strings or gut, or whether vibrato should come primarily from your wrist or from your arm, or your bow grip (Russian vs. Franco-American*), or one teacher thinks you're at the Bruch Level but the other teacher thinks Haydn G Major. That kind of thing.
Throughout most of my violin-playing life, my teachers have gone away for the summer, and thus I've almost always had a different summer teacher. In most cases, my teacher recommended one or more teachers to study with, and often facilitated that connection. That meant that I benefited from multiple perspectives, but did not have the conflict of being told to do contradictory things at the same time.
Lydia Leong - This is kind of off topic, but how did you find and choose your teacher? I want to find a teacher that I can stick with for a long time. What exactly should I look for?
It might work if the roles of the teachers are clearly defined and they are on the same page, a la Roland and Almita Vamos.
Rhiannon, I was faced with the same problem some years ago when I decided it was high time I had proper violin lessons. I could have gone to any one of the several violin teachers who were in the orchestras I played cello in, but I wanted someone I didn't know and who didn't know me.
Trevor Jennings - I think starting at the violin shop is a great idea. There are two that I can go to in my area! There are a lot of violin teachers where I am, not only from music schools but also a university that has grad student teachers, so I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm even considering on-line. If the violin shop can sort them out for me and make recommendations, that would really help.
Lydia wrote "coaching for orchestra." Maybe this is too off-topic for this thread, but sometime I would really be curious to learn more about that experience. What it involves, what you learn, etc.
Rhiannon - Get in-person lessons vs the online ones if you can. I feel that they are better. (I've had both, and definitely prefer the in-person.)
Rhiannon - My teacher would walk all 360° round me when I was playing, looking at my posture and other aspects of technique from all angles, and making fine adjustments as necessary – a very important aspect of teaching. Can't see how that could be done with online lessons.
Maybe someone should start some spin-off threads from this one. :-)
Having two or more teachers at the same time of course is not a long term solution. Ideally, one should be able to have a trial period (rather than a trial lesson) with multiple teachers (WITHOUT approval from anyone!) and then settle on one with whom the student can achieve the most optimal teacher-student relationship.
I had a student whose mother had her go to my colleague as well as to me.
The problem with having multiple instructors that I see, is when students study with two completely different teachers who are not aware of each other's existence, the teachers themselves have limited pedagogical experience, and the student is drowning in poor posture, flawed intonation, ugly tone, and trying to play repertoire or grind etudes instead of properly working on fundamentals.
I am only playing for four years. Therefore I might not have any adequate knowledge to contribute. But I really appreciate working with my primary teacher every week and once in a while meeting with my former teacher when she is in the area (she moved away). Both know of each other.
I've never encountered trial periods rather than single trial lessons. Usually one lesson gives you a pretty good idea of whether or not you want to study with someone. If a teacher isn't compellingly useful in an hour-length trial lesson, I'd say it's worthwhile to keep looking, rather than hoping that they'll become better during a longer trial period.
Feel free to use multiple teachers, but do it in a linear fashion, rather than a hodgepodge. Work with one at a time, learn what you can, then move on to the next if you feel it is necessary. I see nothing wrong with an occasional workshop, or a lesson or two in different styles, however, two or more primary teachers make the soup muddy.
As a teacher, I would never accept a student who had another teacher. If a student were ready to move on, I would help them find a new teacher, no problem. (In fact, I usually recognize they are ready to leave me before they do and I have to shove them out of the nest!) I would be interested in knowing how other teachers would feel about finding out their student had two teachers.
Julie, we have all been following the standard practice as you described. The question is why? What are the benefits? And for whom?
David, I cannot generalize but there is the possibility that the desire to see 2 teachers might imply that one's teacher are not each giving enough material for the student to work on and/or the student for whatever reasons is insecure with the (original) teacher's method.
I think that the more advanced a student is, the more they can potentially benefit from different perspectives simultaneously. They should have enough structure and cognizance about their own playing to be able to see the logic in multiple pieces of advice and be able to pick and choose what works for them.
From time to time I receive students who are currently studying with another teacher.
For very advanced and mature students, having two teachers can be beneficial. The most important thing in that case is transparency. Occasionally at VCU, where I teach, we have students who study with both violin professors - one for an hour every week and the other one for an hour every other week. My colleague and I get along exceedingly well, keep a good track record of what was covered in the last lesson, and set down some parameters that makes it a great experience. Often we will split the rep so that one teacher is "in the lead" on particular pieces, and the other teacher tries to supplement for problem spots for example. What doesnt' work well is having two teachers who don't get along or value similar things, or who don't know of each other's existence...this inevitably can lead to conflict. I had two teachers in graduate school (one for solo rep, one for excerpts) and I definitely benefitted. Again transparency and sensitivity is key, and I think maturity for the student is important too.
In case it wasn’t clear, the discussion is about teacher(s) for technical skills and solo repertoire. Chamber music/orchestra coaching sessions and master classes are all well established pedagogical practices and participating in them would not normally risk offending one’s teacher.
I can't see the point in having multiple teachers except as an exercise in investigative journalism. Setting aside the considerable financial outlay this woud involve, it is all I can do to keep up with the suggestions/solutions of one teacher, let alone two or more. This goes for technical solutions, and much more so for settling on interpretive issues.
Alice, it is very simple. You have studied with a teacher for a while. It is going fine and you value the relationship to the extent that you don’t want risk it by offending your teacher.
Drat!! I had been writing about the Idea of Pro's and Con's of Two differing Violin Teacher's and was on to an analogy but the iPad timed out!! Back later to share my just lost thoughts, I hope this open Discussion will remain Open until Friday late in the day!!
There is a time and a place for seeking additional input from other teachers. But not at the high school level or below, assuming the teacher is competent (which is not always the case).
I think the main problem would be that the teachers might teach the student two conflicting things, leaving them confused on what to follow. Most people have already mentioned this, though. As long as both instructors agree on what is, in general best for the student, then the different perspectives can be extremely helpful.
I guess the short answer, david, is that a single *good* teacher will already supply the exact amount of information, repertoire, and technique each week that the student can handle.
Am I the only one around here who feels pedagogical relationship shouldn’t necessarily be a long-term commitment after a trial lesson or even a trial period?
My opinion as an adult beginnerish student who has some experience there:
As a teacher I have only agreed to do that once, with an advanced student who has since then gone pro. They wanted to add me on in addition to the other, regular teacher, with his knowledge and permission. I made zero changes in form, posture, fundamental technigue, and focused on specific repertoire for solos, auditions, and we went through the Brahms symphonies first violin parts. As for specific bowings and fingerings, I always try to demonstrate alternate versions, and let the student decide which works best for them. [ follow-up; Fortunately, that student did not have any problems with form or posture, there was no temptation to change anything.
Joel, but do you think in terms of technique and posture, you could have taught the student to do better (with better consequences on their playing) had of course you had the liberty to teach them as you would your own students? Or do you think that you would just have provided them with a different way of reaching the same quality of performance?
What Joel is describing is the effect of a community of professionals working together to prepare students for careers. It's not a competition of who might potentially do it "best" by themselves...that's not a metric that's reasonable to define anyhow.
I can understand why a teacher might prefer to be the only one.Multiple teacher situations appear to be few and far in between with many unable to secure even one good teacher, so in some ways this seems a moot point that might apply to a very few.
Eva wrote “From my perspective a strong benefit is being offered different problem solving approaches. Both have “different” toolboxes how to tackle a problem. I do not see those as being conflicting but rather complementing. What is ok for adults might be different from kids.”
What we observe in real life seems to point to the fact that there is normally one teacher one student, or one 'main' teacher and one student.
This is beginning to remind me of "The Mythical Man Month," a book by Frederick Brooks from long ago about the IBM System/360 that I recall reading at the time I took on my 3rd Branch Head job (too many cooks).
"I work alone."
Having multiple teachers at the same time can be a problem if they try to talk at the same moment. Better to have them in different rooms.
To Casey Jefferson ~
~ Joel Q. ~ I thought your honesty more than admirable, yet as you can see, putting specific issues in black and white can cost one's integrity and or both artistic judgement a high price = Doubt from some not being familiar with your expertise ~
@ Elisabeth M. -- It is always interesting to hear your views on things. Thank you ~ J Q
Different teachers could have different ways to achieve the same goals. For example, to improve your bowing technique one would recommend Kreutzer 1 with bowing options, another one will find some specific study - just two different visions, both of them might be right though, however, you need to choose one.
David, thank you for starting this discussion. I share some of your concerns as well over the years. Above many professional teachers stated some good reasons for and against having multiple teachers at the same time. My take away message is that it's a matter of how to approach this teaching -learning arrangement rather than whether it is good or bad in and of itself.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.