Can An Adult Student Request a New Instructor Use a Lesson Series She Knows Works For Her Instead...
Can an adult student request a new instructor use a lesson book series she knows works for her instead of that Suzuki that just about every teacher is in love with? I have been looking high and low for a violin instructor. I am going to have to sign up with an instructor that I was trying to dodge. Not because I do not like her, she is wonderful person. I really like her. Unfortunately, she uses Suzuki. I detest Suzuki. I had her for a different instrument and she uses Suzuki for that. That is a main reason for my quitting. I detest that format, if there is even a format with it.
My search has been going on for some time and has been fruitless. Even my husband was in on the search and found the same thing out. He said we are in a drought area for orchestral instruments and strings teachers. I told him a drought area for fresh veggies and violin teachers, but that is a whole other story! LOL
I have been doing violin on my own, just a little so I don’t get bad habits, until I get an instructor. I have been using Müller Rusch books, and another series that are identical in the system and the order of how strings are learned, and the other series has internet access for songs to play along with, that allows tempo change. Gives me more song and exercise options. I love this method, or the way it is organized. This is what I want to continue using. I am 63 years old and this old fashioned method works with me, Suzuki does not.
I intend to request that this instructor use this system. Suzuki does not have a lot of info in the books. I need to see it. I need it written out. I actually took a college class, for fun, that examines how you learn best. It was designed for returning older students so they could use this info to learn better. It was very thorough. It was shown that I need organized structure, written, verbal, and (can’t remember what the third was called as this was back in 1996). This was on target! So, method and presentation means a great deal to me.
If I am paying for the lessons, shouldn’t the instructor be agreeable to using the method I know is best for me? Shouldn’t she be able to teach using one of these series of books? I am going to the music store she rents a studio from and see what times are available to choose from. I am going to make this request when I do this. Should I expect an issue with this request?
To go into detail about the method organization of Suzuki compared to the method I like would create a huge post, so I am purposely not getting into the details here. Suffice it to say, I have tried Suzuki twice and it did not work. I even bought the Suzuki violin book because it matched the other instrument and the songs were familiar. I bought that first. Even given that, the Müller Rusch and that other series was more helpful and easier to understand and had more information on the pages.
This teacher is a wonderful person and plays that other instrument beautifully and also does so professionally. We get along really well.
"I am hoping to find a teacher who is willing to teach me using the Muller-Rusch books instead of Suzuki, as I need to have more organized structure and written-out instruction than is in the Suzuki books. Can you do this? Or do you know of and could teach from a similar highly structured approach? If not, do you know of any teachers who could?"
I think anyone able to teach violin should be able to teach from any music. The think is, you basically teach from the combination of the student and the music.
So, the instructor would be open to the request, which is good. I have never been in this situation and was not sure if it was only up to the instructor. Thank you.
Yes, of course you can, one of the advantages of being an adult of a certain age is that one knows (finally!) what works for one and can speak one's mind. I've had to do that with my teacher too. She's a very accomplished performer and teacher, but her style is not very structured. I need structure and need to see measurable progress. So I've had to ask her to assign scales and etudes and help me set milestones to work towards.
If a student insisted I use a different method than the one I typically start with (suzuki), I would tell them I'm not well-versed in that method but I'll give it a try. I took the same attitude with a girl I teach whose parents insisted she learn left-handed. I said "I don't know how well I'll be able to teach this but I'll give it a try." It's gone very, very well actually.
Given a prior history, and a rational, thought-out explanation on what it is that has and hasn't worked and what you are looking for instead, I might be inclined to at least take a look at (meaning borrow) your books. I use Suzuki as "core" materials, it doesn't mean that I don't use other things, but if someone wanted a different core, I would have to weigh my interest in working with the person vs. what additional preparation I might need to do. A blanket "I detest Suzuki" (whether spoken or implied) would just make me kindly suggest that I'm probably not a good fit, etc. If I didn't want to agree to do things in a way that severely limits making use of my expertise, I'd simply not accept any pay, for not teaching you...
Suzuki method is designed to work with children learners, and as an adult learner I also have different needs and expectations. I used Suzuki repertoire, note that I am not saying method, starting at book 3 through 5, and diverted from there to a more traditional approach with good old scales and studies as just focusing on one piece after another didn't work that well for developing my technique. I myself could not work with a teacher that is unable or unwilling to adapt to my needs as a learner in a private lesson setting, this is what I am paying for,... and at a premium IMO. Don't tell your teacher how to teach you, but indeed, do express your feeling toward the Suzuki method, and what worked well for you in the past. Your teacher may chose to follow that other method, or ad hoc a method of her own customized to your needs, it matters not if your teacher is professional and competent. Teaching methods are only suggested paths that are proven to work with most, but certainly not all learners, we are all individuals after all. Whereas methods are a must in a group setting, private lessons ought to be adapted to individual needs.
Cynthia, it would be interesting to know more what you disliked about your teacher's method and why you find yourself more inclined towards the method books you mentioned. Even if different teachers say they use Suzuki method, perhaps they are not all in reality using the exact method...some bring in supplementary literature, some use Suzuki only as a source for scores, etc. Does she bring in scales, etudes etc as well?
Cynthia, I asked pretty much the same question about a year ago on this same site. Worth reading to get a flavor of the opinions offered. Hope this link works: https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=377
Mengwei said: --- "In that case, the teacher should be breaking down the steps into micro steps or micro micro steps, whether by making up things personally to fill the gap, using other stuff that's already been written, etc. (also knowing when steps could be consolidated based on a student's ability at the time). That's not "Suzuki" though, just good teaching." ---
I agree with all the posters above who say that it's the teacher not the method that makes the difference. To be a successful violin student, I think you have to be willing to be led by the teacher, and to be receptive and willing to struggle with an exercise/technique/etude over and over and over again, if the teacher thinks its important for you. A good teacher will know when to try something different, or let something go for a while. Even as an advanced student, I don't trust my judgment regarding what I need to learn and how I need to learn it. My previous experiences of learning languages, sports, other skills and subject matter don't seem to help me very much when learning violin-playing.
"there are always those 10% of students that can't "unsee" it as one song, and thus feel like failures when they're "taking over a month to complete just one song." Rationalizing won't work with these types."
Mengwi said: ---"(I can't say that I don't want students to self-lead though. It only becomes a problem when they do what they want instead of or directly contrary to what I asked. "How did ABC practice go?" "Well, I didn't do it, I did XYZ instead." If you do what was assigned, then spend some time experimenting, sure!)"---
Love your teacher examples Erik - made me laugh because they are true.
at the risk of over-generalizing, I will state that sticking to a certain learning method might be a sign of insecurity and/or inexperience. A great teacher, in my opinion, is excellent in noticing / diagnosing student's weaknesses, bad habits and undeveloped skills. He/she is also great in tailoring a set of studies and pieces to correct the above and help you grow as a musician. No "one size fits all" method is capable of doing the same. At this age of brands, it is is rare to fins a unique, personalized and in essence eclectically, practical approach. You may find a "Honda" or "Volkswagen" certified used vehicle, but looking for a "Suzuki", "Yamaha" or "Kodaly" violin teacher might be useless.
A beginner at violin simply does not have an understanding of what is necessary to learn, whether child or adult. What IS really important is that you trust your teacher. A good teacher probably isn't really doing "Suzuki Method" or any or "method". A good teacher is going to teach you a set of principles that are widely agreed upon that will work with any set of books. Having a teacher, it doesn't really make sense to count on getting information about technique from your music books - You get it directly from the teacher.
---"Having a teacher, it doesn't really make sense to count on getting information about technique from your music books - You get it directly from the teacher."---
Erik, that's valid, but I guess I mean the method stuff in terms of just not getting fixated on the it in a sort of perfectionistic way.
Like I said, *I* know what you meant, but others may not. I just wanted to clarify to others reading this that the statement ---"A good teacher probably isn't really doing "Suzuki Method" or any (other) "method"--- isn't a stand-alone statement. It requires more clarification in order to not be misleading to beginners.
Thank you for the thoughts, but I must make some things clear. I am not planning on being my own teacher. That is why I was looking for a teacher. In the ideal world, violin teachers, as described and touted on many posts here, would be available to people no matter where they live, in reality, they are not and those in the”drought” area, must do what they can to 1. Find a teacher that is the best available, 2. Find other resources to learn.
I agree entirely with Jocelyn. Further thoughts from me:
Cynthia said: ---"I find the discussion about an adult thinking (s)he can play well simply because an 8 year can to be very insulting. We are older, but we are not stupid and know that it takes time. To group us all together as a sub-class of students is very insulting."---
Sorry for the misunderstanding. Since I started the thread, I read the posts as directed at me.
Hi Cynthia, sometimes changing one thing can change the whole picture. I would talk with her about what your needs are and give the lessons a second chance. Perhaps it’s different after talking and starting fresh with a new instrument. There is nothing to lose.
Eva, that is what I am doing. Didn’t quite work when I did cello with her. She is off on leave now. When she is able to return, she will reschedule her current students who are still interested first, and then schedule as many from a list the store she works from created. I am on that list. I am going to be a tad more firm this time with what I am exactly wanting to get out of these lessons. I can’t be bossy, she knows the instrument, I do not, but I know my learning process and what is needed on my part to succeed.
Violin's very difficult to learn- might be useful to simplify and just focus on a few basic techniques to start out with. If one focuses on the technique, which is what most teachers do, the material is not as important. If your short-term goal is to learn a good how hold, bow with proper arm motion, keep bow parallel to bridge as much as possible for beginner, the material is not as important. It's only grist for the mill. Same with basic left hand- intonation, hand shape, relaxed hand, are the goals, not mastery of some primer or learning the first few chapters of any particular method. Sometimes it's good to get the goal for a technique from a teacher, then go home and figure out the best way to master it on your own. The teacher may have some suggestions, but there's no limit to what you can do on your own as long as you're not developing bad habits.
My.00000002 worth here.
Yes, I fully agree with you. I am the same, I detest the Suzuki method, made for kids and parents and full tilt with an Instructor that you have to see each week. The books are awful. The music selection some exceptions are awful. It requires you to spend lots of money with an instructor and your parent to continue with the series. Most or many of the Violin teachers where I live not all, use Suzuki method. I refuse to hire them. The UK ABRSM method, Wolfhart, Essential Elements, some of the Violin YouTube instructors are much better. I stay away from Suzuki. I went to a recital with my ex Violin teacher and all of the kids she was training were all using Suzuki, so she could make lots of money requiring instruction each week. I am looking to practice and learn with adults not a 8 year old kids.
I have no issues with using an instructor for weekly classes. I am convinced that weekly lessons with an instructor is the way to go. The issue was the method. I thought this thread I started had run its course, but before it takes a turn again, I want to make clear my thoughts.
Weekly instruction on the violin is best for the student who wants to learn to play the instrument correctly. It isn't a money grab on the part of the teacher. Good grief.
I agree with Mary Ellen. Weekly lessons are vital for beginners, regardless of the instructional approach used. (And they are useful for intermediate and advanced players, too.) Arguably most students would actually be better served by two lessons (or more) per week, but once weekly is practical. It's not a money grab, sheesh.
LOL Stephanie is like the example-adult in my earlier post.
Lydia, I agree that 2 lessons a week would be great! But, the cost would be too much for me and I don’t think there would be another slot available where I am. I was lucky to get the slot I have. Such is life. Boy, if I could do 2 a week, that would be fabulous.
> The UK ABRSM method, Wolfhart, Essential Elements
I fervently disagree with your assertions. You have not convinced me or persuaded me to use the Suzuki books. I gave away my Suzuki books to children who will need to weekly attend a local Violin instructor with their parent all of who are enamoured with the Suzuki method. Skills are developed by the use of pedagogy which includes the use of a structured curriculum. I now use much better "methods"and have a good Violin teacher who does not use the Suzuki method. Have a good day.
No one is trying to convince you (Stephanie), personally, to use the Suzuki books or take weekly lessons. However, people are attempting to correct your ignorant statements, since other readers in the future may come to the discussion archive and it's better for such statements to not be left to fester and misguide later readers.
Lydia Leong, so now your rhetoric has to include personal insults of me, calling me "ignorant"! I take offense to your personal condescension of my position to not use the Suzuki method, for which I believe is warranted and valid. I am not denigrating your position as everyone has an opinion, mine is based on experience and you seem to not accept that. You seem to assume that i am completely ignorant and know nothing.
This - "It was too fast. New lessons every week..." - means not getting what was meant to be gotten in the Suzuki repertoire sequence (because of going too fast), so it's no surprise that it "didn't work" even without considering other factors such as adult and child learning differences.
This online community involves many people for whom music is either a profession or life-long avocation, and have both breadth and depth of comprehension of the subject matter. If you're going to participate in the discussion and make sweeping generalizations about some aspect of the pedagogy, you need to support your claims with actual evidence if you intend for the members of this community to take your opinion(s) seriously. If the only response you have to criticism is to claim "offense," then the message you're sending is that you're not interested in a discussion that might elicit some discoveries about the study of the violin.
Mengwei Shen, you are exactly right, I did not get out of the lesson what I should have, but I also need more than a week of playing to be comfortable with whatever was learned. That is not from not practicing and concentrating, that has always been the case with me. Once I “get it”, I take off, but that is not the same with instruments. You have to be able to do that technique physically as well as know what is meant and what you are supposed to do, so that slows it down some. I don’t mind. I love playing it and the process of learning something new. So I am good with slow and steady.
An interesting aspect of teaching children vs adults is that children tend not to be good at self-advocating for a learning style -- they just absorb, or not. And their parents tend not to know what constitutes good violin teaching. So whatever happens, happens -- if the kid turns out not to advance well, the parents generally shrug their shoulders and quit purchasing lessons, especially if their goal was music "exposure" rather than music "achievement".
Mengwei said: ---"Off topic on Erik's draw-by-dots analogy - when I read about the series of more dots that becomes a line, I thought, that's nearly calculus!"---
To J Ray's point, I suspect the exam system itself is not at fault per se. Interesting Simon Fischer's article from some years back with regard to the UK system:
Lydia, thanks for linking the article. As an adult who is working through the last quarter of Kreutzer, I realize I may well run out of time before the “basic training” can be completed. At least, I know what is ahead : )
If a teacher understands the violin, they can teach from any reasonable method, applying even Suzuki insights in teaching someone else's method. If, on the other hand, they only understand Suzuki, they may have problems.
David, I find that Fischer's list parallels my childhood and young-adult learning quite well. Currently, though, I don't have the same solid technical grounding that I used to be able to rely upon, and many more things feel hard. I remember working through Dont op. 35 in childhood, for instance, and it's practically like seeing the etudes for the first time now and drawing a blank.
Having been on the receiving end of many different music instrument teachers during my teenage years, but now learning at a mature age (55) a new instrument, I can relfect on what worked for me. There were some teachers I did not jell with, their selection of music did not inspire me — no progress made. Then I had teachers that did jell with me, I enjoyed the instruction, but were lacking in method — you don’t know what you don’t know, so I only realised there was something missing when I changed to a different instructor. Then I had a teacher that jelled with me, inspired me and concentracted on method — what a difference, I could see myself improving. So I believe it is important to find a teacher that teaches the style of music that you like, inspires you and concentrates on proper methods. As an adult I think it is quite fair to ask for particular course work, but you should also be willing to sway with the wind and take on good advice. I wish you good luck in finding a suitable instructor.
Lydia couldn't it also be that you just played those Dont 35 very sloppily at the time, which you currently no longer would find acceptable? At least that is how it was in my case.
Nope. My teacher at the time wouldn't have tolerated it (I was a super-"clean" player as a teenager), and I did pretty much the Fischer-mentioned sequence. Kreutzer, Dont op. 35 (preceded by op. 37 and 38), Paganini. (And then later when I resumed playing, a review of some Dont op. 35 followed by Gavinies and Wieniawski Ecole Moderne.)
good for you!!