Adult student specifying the method to be used - thoughts?
I am curious how the teachers here would respond to an older adult student who specifies the violin method that he/she wants to be taught from. I can understand parents relying on what the teacher recommends for their child method. However, a motivated adult can easily preview the various methods out there, including public domain methods from years ago and come to a conclusion on what will keep them motivated to practice.
In my particular case I came across the Doflein method at the suggestion of George Wells, a frequent contributor to this site. The selection of music suits my taste and I like the rigor of the method and the way attitudes or positions and use of the fourth finger are stressed from almost the first lesson. The Bang, Auer and Suzuki methods left me unmotivated. Of course, the teacher would be expected to supplement the chosen method with etudes and other repertoire as required.
Although I am not a violin teacher, I can clearly see this:
I agree with Sung Han. I'm an advanced adult student and have taught a couple of young and adult students in the past due to the shortage of teachers those days. I would say that the method of teaching depends very much on what kind of teachers are available to you. Just as you won't ask someone who practices traditional Chinese medicine to work on an open heart surgery, it's not reasonable to expect a teacher who is deeply rooted in the tradition of Russian, Soviet or Franco-Belgian to teach Suzuki without having had proper Suzuki training. I would argue that teachers who are teaching the methods beyond their expertise are taking the risk of being irresponsible, unless it has clear understanding between the two that they are doing an experiment.
Very few teachers work strictly from a method book; even Suzuki teachers who are teaching kids will frequently use other material also.
I think it is inappropriate to be seeking a teacher then dictating the material covered, speaking as a student and a (not a violin) teacher.
My choice of the word "specify" was way too strong and definitely not what I intended to be a discussion between me and my potential teacher. I think Pamela M better phrased my intention of a discussion where I lay out the materials I have and make my point about which methods include materials that motivate me. Of course, the teacher is the expert but perhaps stretching his/her teaching method into new areas would benefit both of us. Perhaps this is not the case for some teachers with a very fixed syllabus. I can certainly understand that.
If you can find a teacher who teaches a wide variety of different music styles, could you request that you learn Doflein pieces along with other teacher-suggested work? I think it's perfectly acceptable to request learning of particular music, as long as your teacher says it's not too hard for you. However, requesting a specific method of teaching seems inappropriate.
Ideally, the teacher you trust should know the most appropriate method to get you as far as possible as a violin player. One thing that turns a lot of teachers off is the way in which adult students question everything (speaking as an adult student myself .)
I'm also intrigued by OP's statement that "The Bang, Auer and Suzuki methods left me unmotivated". I wonder why would that be? Method is only a tool. It's the application of a tool makes the difference in its effectiveness.
I would find it difficult to work with a beginner who came in with no prior experience and expected to tell me how to teach him. I would be particularly irritated at a suggestion that perhaps using the specified method would benefit my teaching.
Im not sure but I think its an interesting idea. The student, in such a case, already knows herself or himself and is basically telling the teacher "this is how my mind works best" not that this method is necessarily a better or worse one than the one/s the teacher uses. How to balance between this and the idea that the teacher is already a rich source of ideas and material?
In this case teaching method is a chosen book and set of materials, and not necessarily related to how the teacher teaches themselves.
As Lydia said "I think sometimes adult students treat this like any service that they are buying, no different than calling a plumber. It's not that. It's more like an apprenticeship."
The empirical evidence is overwhelming. Generations of accomplished violinists started out as obedient children and followed the formula of listening to their teachers and diligent practice.
"However, a motivated adult can easily preview the various methods out there, including public domain methods from years ago and come to a conclusion on what will keep them motivated to practice."
The OP said the Suzuki Method left him unmotivated. Did he really try the Suzuki Method? Or did he just try to play pieces from the Suzuki books? I agree with Raphael. It's a bit like going to your medical doctor with a lump in your neck and asking him to recommend only herbal remedies.
The whole issue about method books without even having a good teacher working with you is doing things completely in the wrong order. A good teacher can teach you even without any method book: They can write down the suitable material for you to work on if necessary to begin with. They can even make you write your own exercises, if your teacher thinks you are so talented, just like what Henning Kraggerud's teacher did when he was a student. Like a lay person reads medical textbooks or legal journals, what a beginner thinks he understands about these method books and what actually he does often have very little resemblance.
Wow! Well I asked how the teachers out there would respond to a hypothetical "discussion" between a potential student and teacher about using a method. This discussion never really happened. It is clear that most teachers would not welcome this discussion from an absolute beginner. But some here brought up that they were returners or had prior musical experience and this might add a different flavor to the discussion. I'm in that group having used the methods by Noad, Guiliani, Carulli, Carcassi and Sor among others, during my time learning classical guitar. I consider myself a beginner on violin but I can read complex music and have clear ideas about my musical taste.
Wow, the OP completely missed my point and cherry-picked one statement that is not applicable to his situation whatsoever.
My teacher welcomed all suggestions, we had a great partnership equally open minded to each other, but ofc. the teacher was guide in our travelling together.
@Pamela - I bought the part for my washing machine repairer before he turned up. He was amazed I managed to get it over the net for 1/4 of the price he could!
During the 40 years I taught I never found a set of books that brought students to a practical level of playing faster than SUZUKI I found these books about 10 years into my teaching "career" when some Suzuki students were transferred to me. I always supplemented Suzuki with other works as I thought each student needed them. I am too old to have been taught by the Suzuki method, or from the Suzuki books - but the books at least have much of I the material I had as a kid studying violin at the Manhattan School of Music - and from other private teachers before that - and they provide a carefully thought out progression for building the technique of beginners of all ages. There is much other music that can be used to supplement the pieces in Suzuki - if that helps motivate progress. One that I loved to introduce very early on was the fiddle tune "Devil's Dance," a blue grass piece that uses the same notes learned in the first few pages of Suzuki. I think the students liked it because it sounds like a far higher skill level than they have actually attained.
The difference between humility of children and arrogance of adults is probably the major reason why many teachers advoid taking adult beginners.
David Zhang "The difference between humility of children and arrogance of adults is probably the major reason why many teachers advoid taking adult beginners."
Let us not generalise.
"I'm a bit surprised that some took this idea very personally and have impressed on me as the OP some quite unflattering characteristics for even bringing up the possibility of this discussion: "This shows a marked if unintentional disrespect" ,"The OP's arrogance of presuming to dictate to the teacher" I wanted a flow of ideas but lets not make it personal. I have the greatest respect for all of you."
The expression "The OP's arrogance" is unfortunate. How about "Many teachers would find such an approach arrogant." ?
I think you might get along much better if you "suggested" rather than "specified" and explained to the teacher what you like about it as you have to us. Then y'all can have a discussion about your goals and the teacher's approach and come to a mutual conclusion. As an adult student you do have to have mutuality, I think: you absolutely also have to trust the teacher once you agree to lessons with them but that doesn't preclude discussion/input from you. I think it's just your terminology of "specified" that's off-putting bc most of us have had students that thought they knew best and nobody wins in those cases :/
S.P. I think you might be the first person to have ever enjoyed an etude by Hans Sitt. I think his are about the worst. (Okay well maybe Alard's etudes are worse, but he was apparently one of Sarasate's teachers so he gets a pass.)
To me, it sounds like the OP would best benefit from someone who is just starting to learn to teach. He's getting all these responses from experienced teachers who already have established the methods they're most comfortable with, whereas a brand-new teacher is still looking to explore different methods, and also would be less insulted when the OP tried to teach them how to teach. I know of students who are still in high shool or perhaps just graduated who would work well with the OP (I'm being quite serious, not facetious).
I realize that once a topic gets long, many responders don't read through all the responses before adding their input. I posted the following as the fifth reply (see above) to clarify that my intention here was for a discussion.
"Of course, the teacher is the expert but perhaps stretching his/her teaching method into new areas would benefit both of us."
OP - you seemed taken aback that so many teachers have reacted personally to what you said. When you say not to make it personal and to keep it hypothetical, I have to say that I find that disingenuous. You obviously are talking about yourself and how you might approach a teacher; it's not some theoretical "what if". Once again, as others have said in different ways, the teacher is so much more important than any particular materials or method books that it's not even funny.
Unfortunately, many patients do believe doctors should give them what they want because they did some online research or it worked for their uncle's friend, or what have you.
There is only one way to teach, and also to learn, and that is the EASY way. The difficult way is always a disaster.
I’m going to come to the defense of the OP, a bit. I started violin after college, and I’m very grateful that my first teacher started me with the Doflein books (and shortly after added some Kreutzer and scale studies). I found the musicality of the exercises to be engaging and the duets appealed to my fascination with chamber music. The books don’t have silly childrens’ cartoons and the tunes don’t sound like they were written ‘down’ to children. After all, as a beginner, learning violin is humbling enough ! The Doflein exercises have interesting folk motifs, various modalities, and some very 20th C melodies. I think I had fairly developed musical tastes when I was 22, and the Doflein books appealed to my tastes and rewarded my work. If you look at previous threads on this site regarding the Doflein books, I think you will find notable enthusiasm.
"Isn't there a Chinese saying something to the effect of: if you want to know what lies on the road ahead, ask the person with the bloodiest feet?"
This truly was a hypothetical case as I clearly stated a few times. I used my liking of the Doflein method to give an example context to the discussion and provide an alternative to the ubiquitous Suzuki method. I also twice defined the use of the word specify to mean a discussion or if you like preference but some people don't read the whole thread. Nothing I can do there.
Scott, I heftily agree with your analysis of absolute specificity in lessons, although my personal observation has been that many students benefit from starting with the pinky on the top of the bow (as it helps them to better physically grasp the planes involved) and then graduate to the side of the bow once their motor skills properly understand how the bow functions. If a student is ABLE to immediately adopt the side-pinky, then of course that would be ideal. I notice that with many brand new beginners, if I try to start them with the side-pinky, it either encourages a locked-out pinky or a straightened thumb.
This is an interesting discussion because I'm coming from a unique situation. I'm a professional musician but amateur adult violinist. I take the violin quite seriously and practice 1-4 hours a day. I also have tremendous experience working with well known non-classical violinists, and I've always listened to violin music and read books about violin.
Again, I would like to defend of the original poster:
Love to teach him piano!
Sorry, but I ran out of patience to read all of these responses. OP, just get to it. You need to do everything, so anything is good right now. "If you don't think to good, then don't think to much."
Are you a teacher, Rob Bigelow?
I'm not a teacher.
You mentioned 4 method books in your original post. Other than Suzuki, most of them are older methods that are not used as much anymore. Did you also check out Essential Elements, ABCs of Violin, Sassmanhaus, Sound Innovations, Fiddle Time, Barbara Barber's materials? As a teacher I put a lot of time and effort into researching and trying out various methods and pieces/etudes. I do own copies of the first 2 Doflein method books and while they are well thought out and have some good music, I generally dislike teaching beginners from books with little 1-2 line pieces, (I prefer having students learn and polish longer pieces) and much prefer Suzuki for this reason. For adult beginners (and some kids) I usually supplement Suzuki book 1 with a method book that has some written out instructions since most adults like to try to figure some things out on their own. I usually use ABCs of violin for this because it progresses with a similar sequence of techniques to Suzuki.
What you do and how you approach your lessons is your business. But from my personal perspective, I will tell you that I never told my teachers what technical material I preferred to be taught, even after studying for over ten years. I would have considered it presumptuous. If I study with a teacher, it is because I respect them and know for a fact that they know more about the subject than I do. I want that teacher to convey to me their unique approach. And part of that approach is the materials he or she chooses, and how he or she teaches said materials. For instance, if I could go back in time and study with Ivan Galamian, I wouldn't tell him I want to study Sevcik with him,even though I use Sevcik myself; I would want him to teach me Kreutzer, Rode, Gavinies, and his scale system, because those were core to his particular approach. That's my two cents.
Most ideas can be expressed if we find a productive way to express them. It may be a little less presumptuous if you bring the method books to your teacher, express your interests in them and ask for his/her opinion. I certainly have brought books and various ideas to my teacher with whom I've been for almost 10 years. Of course, we have known each other very well and we freely share our thoughts and explore options together all the time.
So much to read.
Frieda and others: I never considered that using the word 'method' could mean anything other than a set of published method books. I can clearly see Frieda's point that it could be construed by some to mean the teachers method of teaching. My mistake and I'm very sorry if that was the meaning taken by many of you. I also meant my comment on helping both of us to mean the teacher gets a willing student to try out a set of unfamiliar method books on and I as the student get to use a method set that i already like.
Wolfhart is standard stuff. I did them when I was little.
I can also see it from the teacher's point of view. From a general point of view, she or he has invested (and continue to do so) time and effort in choosing excercises, études and so on. From a more student-centric point of view, they analyse the playing of each student and propose specfic exercises. So there is a general narrative they've worked on, a general chain of études and musical pièces...and there is individually tailored interventions to undo the specific knots of the individual student's playing.
This is somewhat off-topic, but Ahmed Al Taweel wrote, "The pain might be too much from thirds and tenths." Anyone who is in pain from thirds is doing something seriously wrong.
"This is somewhat off-topic, but Ahmed Al Taweel wrote, "The pain might be too much from thirds and tenths." Anyone who is in pain from thirds is doing something seriously wrong." If it's physical pain, I'd agree. Psychological pain, on the other hand....
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