Identifying A Great (But Not Well Known) Teacher
My daughter is 20 and was probably the stereotypical devoted violin player with all-in parents. She was a "star" in her world from about 10 to 15 years old. Then she went to the IU summer strings camp after 10th grade and realized there how far she was behind many players -- younger and older.
She thrived at the camp but it was a defining time that let her know she didn't want to be a professional musician. She didn't want to jump into a career track with what she considered inferior talent and youth training. (On a happy note, she's very happy in her university orchestra while majoring in marketing.)
I thought I had exited the violin parent world successfully until a co-worker asked if I'd talk to her friend. The friend, I was told, had a super talented 10-year-old violinist and was seeking guidance.
To my surprise, the young girl is fantastic, more advanced than I've ever seen (in person) a child of that age. And she clearly loves playing, has musicality and produces strong tone from her 3/4 size violin. Her parents say her current teacher is 25 years old has no experience with a gifted young player like this, and the teacher suggested they start the process of looking for a replacement.
My first reaction was to tell the parent to relocate to Chicago or to email Mimi Zweig at IU (they live in western Michigan). But I realized how unrealistic and misguided that probably is knowing the parents' life situation. The feedback I'm seeking is for how they might go about finding a new teacher who may be a diamond in the rough, someone who can really keep their child progressing without having the experience of an established great teacher?
And is it possible for a kid to learn online successfully for the long-term? Or is that just misguided? I see some accomplished teachers of gifted kids give online lessons.
Thanks in advance.
Would it be possible for their daughter to get one lesson a month in person with a first class teacher in Chicago, with her current teacher acting as the Chicago teacher’s assistant for the other three weeks?
If Chicago is possible- Almita Vamos. Worth an hour or more drive each way a week if they are in Western MI
We were very much in this situation with my son, and for a variety of personal reasons (his older sister was very sick for years and then passed away) we were unable to take him to a top-notch teacher until he was 12. He unfortunately lost a lot of time, though admittedly he is doing pretty well nonetheless. But I wouldn't recommend it if the family is able in any way to get to a better teacher. Appropriate pedagogy from someone who knows how to prepare kids with motivation and talent is critical.
Try Ara Sarkissian, who is on the faculty at Interlochen (which is located by Traverse City, western MI). He's experienced and, as far as I know, very good.
Well, if you can't relocate your whole family to Chicago or New York on a dime, and you can't commute weekly from western Michigan around the lake to Chicago, may I suggest that Dylana Jensen (located in Grand Rapids) could be a resource to this family. Western Michigan is a big place -- one can be closer to Traverse City or closer to Grand Rapids. I am somewhat familiar with the geography having earned my BS degree in the town of Holland.
Western Michigan covers a lot of territory. Could be a half hour from Chicago, could be 5 hours. Michigan State has Berlinsky. Having her play from someone at a college might lead you to someone young and gifted at teaching. Just looking online there is a Delay student, Juilliard graduate at Andrews University.
Also they can look up "Violin Breakfast", Amy Beth Horman, a great online scales and fundamentals class.
Thank you, all.
Some high profile teachers are willing to teach on a sliding scale too.
Having a sample lesson with an "ideal" teacher like Vamos might open many options. Recommendations for other teachers who are closer, online lessons. Worst case, they just have one lesson, which would be a great experience in itself. Somewhere here, I posted a link to the list of Indianapolis competitors and their bios and repertoire. The number of Vamos studio 20 somethings was impressive.
Dylana Jenson ('not' Jensen....) has a facebook profile and a website, 'do' contact her, she is ABSOLUTELY fantastic, top notch teacher (ex student of Milstein/Gingold) who is well suited for this in my opinion, I can't recommend her enough!
Along with a great teacher, community matters. Chamber, theory, performance deadlines and opportunities.
I second trying to find a musical community. The ability to be surrounded by similar students, play in studio classes, participate in chamber music, and become a well rounded musician is critical.
I might have agreed about Vamos….years ago. I had a lesson with her almost 30 years ago, and she wasn’t exactly young back then. I wouldn’t start a young student off with an elderly and ailing teacher.
My daughter had a masterclass online and then a lesson with her last year when she was in our area. Seemed sharp as a razor.:)
The OP wrote:
I don't know, David. The pro violin world is undeniably competitive, but if we frame our journey through it in competitive terms, then we are always covered in the failure of someone being better than us.
Christian, the OP stated that her daughter is 20 (not 10), and that it is her daughter who seems to be happy pursuing a career path other than music, while still playing in the university orchestra.
I don't know if I'm misunderstanding something, David. The OP does mention their 20 year old daughter, who has already chosen a different path, as background for their own interaction with the fiddle-training world.
Matthew, Mrs. Vamos is definitely still sharp as a tack, but she has had to back off a bit from her usual ridiculously hectic pace. Virtually all of her students now have a second teacher who does all of their technique work, as well as some repertoire work, though to be fair, back when Mr. Vamos was teaching he often took on that role.
Thank you, Jo, for correcting me on the spelling of Dylana Jenson's name. I do like to get that kind of stuff right. And yes, there's no question about her pedigree or her reputation. Top-notch.
David, you said....
What I have seen is that the ones who reach a very high level but do not cross the threshold into the careers that they envisioned as teenagers do pretty well in some other field (medicine, for example). Getting to the Curtis Level (which anyone would agree is a few notches higher than the Bruch Level) on the violin requires concentration, native intelligence, determination, and discipline -- all qualities that will serve one very well in the operating room or the courtroom or the trading floor.
Matthew wrote the following:
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