Having a good teacher is the most important thing you can do
After a long time without regular lessons, I started back to lessons with a new teacher. My teacher is a well qualified professional, with a Master's Degree from Northwestern. This young lady has changed my playing life... I've been at lessons for about 6 months and we really started from scratch: Even though I am an intermediate to advanced level player. This is because I have some serious tension related issues that have limited my ability to move on. (My teacher had similar issues 5 years ago and had to rework some her own playing) I did a lot of work with open strings and string crossings for a couple of months and have worked on all aspects of my playing. I am learning to practice slowly with a metronome and realize that you can learn so, so much from Bach. There are a lot of online and printed resources available to a player... but none are as good as a great teacher. My last lesson was so hard, and so fun... we were playing the slow movement of the Bach double and having a seminar on bow speed at the same time. I could see where the open string practice was paying off.
If you are trying to teach yourself, you are wasting precious time. If you can afford it, get a teacher. Don't buy a new violin, switch 10 brands of strings, or worry about shoulder rests. Get a good teacher. You will look forward to your lesson. Each week will not be great, but you will get better quickly.
Once you get a good teacher, bring him/her vegetables from your garden as they really like that... then they teach you extra super secret tips (lol)
I took vegetables to Hugh Bean and he said lettuce study the Cabbagelevsky first. This concerto is hard to beet since it goes like a rocket. After I played it though the tips of my fingers were chard. Now I am going to study with Ilya Kaleyer.
I agree. The beginner who teaches themself has a fool for a teacher.
Stephen: You are a clever man, I bet you have a collection of dad jokes. We need more of that from thyme to thyme.
Christian: I'm not a beginner (a solid intermediate player, maybe a little more than that), I was just working too hard and getting nowhere. I remember playing and struggling and thinking this should not be so hard. I did not sound bad, but knew I wasn't getting any better. A good teacher can get to the root of a problem quickly. It still takes some time for me to get truly relaxed at a lesson, but we are making progress.
I guess I wrote in a caveated way that undercuts my real point, which is that teaching is absolutely indispensable, but a good teacher teaches us to teach ourselves, which becomes a key skill for improving.
Although I agree that a good teacher is important, I would NEVER blame someone for trying to self-teach.
Andrew, Those teachers who rejected you were absolute fools. I'm glad you were able to get beyond that and just get on with it.
I think one thing adult students often struggle with is the idea that you play worse at your lesson than you do in your practice room, and they get nervous in their lessons trying to defeat this axiom. When you get to your lesson, just play the damned piece and don't stop even if you make some terrible mistake. Your teacher knows you heard it. That's why you're paying them a celery.
You are absolutely right Paul! As an adult learner, it is brutal when a piece that sounds like garbage in front of a teacher, sounded perfectly fine the day before in practice. It almost seems like you have to both ensure the teacher that you did in fact practice, and that you aren't wasting their time.
My teacher says his teacher told him she would make a big cardboard cutout of herself to glower at him as he practiced.
Andrew: I'm so sorry that you had some terrible interactions with potential teachers. Their logic was foolish. Fortunately, I live in an area where the local symphony coordinates teaching with local teachers. Self teaching certainly is better than nothing and I respect everyone who is trying to improve. It's hard work... I still watch videos. But instead of trying to fix myself, I ask my teacher if what I see is right for my situation. We are on the same page. You do what you can because you love the instrument.
When, as a cellist, I started playing the violin and needed lessons I enquired at my local violin shop, which knew me well as a cellist. The owner listened to me, went into his office, and returned a couple of minutes later with a three-page listing of violin teachers in the city and the surrounding area. The list gave useful information about the levels the teachers taught to, their specialties (classical, folk, jazz, etc), and their qualifications. He had highlighted three names which he felt would be of interest.
I was mostly responding to Christian -- it's easy to glibly call self-teaching foolish, but many people who self-teach don't have a choice in the matter.
My teacher won't teach children by choice - he taught in schools for many years and prefers to teach adults now. There are a few teachers in my area who teach adults, but many don't. After Covid I have to wonder how many are still teaching at all?
Ummm, it's only foolish if you want to get better at the instrument; otherwise it's fine. It may be glib, but I wasn't commenting on the availability of the resources. It's virtually impossible to not bake in very destructive habits that won't take a very long time and a lot of energy to undo when under the supervision of a skillful teacher.
I think most teachers don't mind teaching adults but are wary of "adolts."
A good string-instrument teacher is one the student thinks is great