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Is teaching style a cultural thing?

student teacher relationshp teaching style adult learner violin

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#16 barry-clari

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 13:51

I'm not sure about culture. I just think you don't really get on with your teacher's methods/style. Probably time to move on.
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#17 JessicaQ

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 14:11

I think I'm on the verge of quitting violin all together. It'll probably come back sometime in the future.


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#18 Maruja

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 15:59

Oh, please don't! It sounds as though you are taking this so seriously that you can't cope with not achieving the highest standard, but surely at your level, you can enjoy playing?  What I would give to be an advanced player of any instrument! However, it does show the likes of me that being gifted as you surely are, is sometimes a poisoned chalice...

I too have a very strict teacher, who very rarely gives praise. I have been on the verge of tears several times. But then I pull myself together and say that she wants the best for me and I have really learned so much more than with other, more relaxed teachers. And she is so scary and I so want to please her, that going into an exam is a picnic, compared with performing one of my pieces for her. So it may be that you can go into other venues, armed with the new techniques you have acquired and really perform to a very high level, with which you will be satisfied...


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#19 corenfa

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 16:41

There's nothing wrong with stopping for a bit if that's the right thing for you at this moment. I had seven years off music. I had too much else to sort out in my life at the time. When I came back to it I saw a lot of things differently and I was actually better at some things musically even though I'd lost technique. Good luck with whatever you decide be it a break, or a new teacher. Maybe time to do what you want without thinking of what others expect.
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#20 Norway

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 17:57

I would give it a break. Like Corenfa, I had a few years off from music and it didn't do me any harm at all. I used to play my first instrument (the oboe) in a good amateur symphony orchestra and we played great works, but it was very stressful. When people asked me if I enjoyed it, I always said "Yes" because I supposed that I should be enjoying it because I loved the music, but it was not a happy experience. Now I'm in a village brass band on a brass instrument (which I'm not even very good at) and we enjoy serving the community and have great friendships and fun. Try something different Jessica, and find your thing - you will know when you have found it!
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#21 jpiano

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 22:06

I agree that constant negative feedback can be really demoralising. I do tell my students when I think they've done something well or improved- and they do acknowledge and appreciate it. It's one thing not to constantly over-praise which can be damaging too, but another to turn lessons into something you dread instead of look forward too.  My own piano teachers were generally supportive- I got on better with some than with others, but with the teachers who got the best from me, I felt they really cared about my progress and about me as a person as well, not just as a piano-playing machine.

 

I don't subscribe to the idea that if you're an advanced student, you can and should be able to take constant negativity from teachers. I'm studying literature as a postgraduate and I find I need encouragment as well as constructive criticism as much as anyone. I was brought up reading the theatre and dance stories by children's authors like Noel Streafeild, full of tempestuous maestros and madames who regularly shouted at their students, but had hearts of gold and would have gone to the ends of the earth for them (the characters were inspired by actual teachers). But equally I can't help feeling that it can be a bit of an ego-trip for the maestro (and something I've witnessed in the academic world as well).


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#22 JessicaQ

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 05:53

Thank you for the support. It feels quite daunting to decide to quit under the circumstances. I'm staring at the music notes and my violin and thinking I don't know when they'll be back as part of my life. Right now I can't really bring myself to it as these are such strong reminders of how I've failed as a pupil and as a friend, at playing and at resolving problems.  

If it helps anyone in similar situations, I'd say voice your concern as soon as it becomes one, before a pattern is set and mistakenly thought to be acceptable to both.   


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#23 barry-clari

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:48

I see your reply about quitting was 20 minutes after my post. I hope I didn't inadvertently push you... :unsure:

Perhaps, if you're not already involved in anything, join in with some communal music making? Orchestras/folk music/string-only groups or suchlike?
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#24 AnnC

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 12:22

I don't believe teaching style is always a cultural thing. I know many teachers of my culture who don't teach like I do at all. They are very school marm-ish. Strict, sometimes shouting, but over-disciplinarians. I work on a positive encouragement basis with lots of laughter for both adults and children. I don't think I get bad results - I get my fair share of distinctions in exams, including diplomas. Music should be an enjoyable pastime, whatever level you are working at.

I would say find a teacher with a different outlook and your love of the violin will soon come back. I always leave my own lessons with a sense of inspiration. If your teacher doesn't inspire you they are the wrong teacher.


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#25 JessicaQ

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 16:33

barry-clari, not at all! Things happened. That's all. I'm only thankful that you all care and candidly share your thoughts, and embarrassed to be the centre of concerns for something not so pleasant.

The proposition on cultural difference isn't really the right one. More of a personal choice of approach, gathered from your comments.

My teacher was actually quite outraged by my trying to talk things through with him and is having an angry or mysterious moment in the aftermath. I'm sort of waiting to be expelled.

Situation before was more complicated and worse than I described. Altogether it'll be a bit difficult for me to continue doing the same thing, playing music, even with different people, for a while. But I've no doubt it'll be over sometime. Music conquers all.  


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#26 JD5

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 16:46

I read this with interest and could not help comparing your situation with my teacher (piano).  She quite
enjoys her students playing and is quick to give praise and positive comments when they are due.  She does not immediately stop you when there is a mistake but waits until you are finished and then comments on it.
Positive feedback is important - not just highlighting mistakes.  I don't think that I would get on all that well with a teacher like yours....perhaps I am spoilt with having a good teacher....and not all that
sure that your case is a cultural thing.
 
Best regards.
 

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#27 Tenor Viol

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 19:26

OK, I'm an amateur and no aspirations or likelihood of being a soloist... but like you I am still a music student, with tutors. There are many teaching styles and they do not necessarily arise from 'cultural' variation, but more often from the personality of the tutor (although there are definite 'general' differences in approach in certain countries from what I've read). A point to think about is not all teachers are that good at interpersonal communication - they may be technically brilliant, but poor communicators, others can be very empathetic and supportive without seeming to teach, and yet they are. And, there is no point denying, there are some poor teachers.

 

I think that there are plenty of valid and useful comments from others in this thread. I would emphasise a few points.

  • First, you do need to be clear about what it is you are trying to or want to achieve.
  • Next, this is for you not for someone else - it needs to be what you want to do and what you want to achieve, not what someone else wants or which you think might make them happy.
  • From which follows, what is it that you want to achieve? Do you want to play socially with friends, or with a local group/orchestra, a soloist on the local amateur circuit, semi-professional doing paid gigs?

None of us can answer these and these affect the type and nature of tuition you will be seeking. It can be scary pushing ourselves forward to do something which is a stretch and maybe that is what is of concern, or maybe not. Only you will know the truth behind this - don't forget that change is always challenging.

 

Finally, some of my recent experiences. I decided in March to take up a very different instrument (I am primarily a choral singer, I now play cello (in several orchestras) and also tenor sax (in several wind bands) and tenor viol). I have really struggled to find teachers I get on with: one was more interested in his next gig than in teaching; I had a few lessons with another, but he realised (and I agreed) that he wasn't right for me (he wasn't technical enough for me and my general music understanding was better than his); the next one's approach was ridiculous, so I had my last lesson with him last week. I am now thinking hard about what to do next as there are no teachers near me (these were 15 to 20 miles from me). Just to set  the record: I've had very few problems with teachers for cello, sax or viol (bar one).

 

Good luck with your decisions.


Edited by Tenor Viol, 26 July 2016 - 08:36 .

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#28 hummingbird

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 23:21

This is a sad state of affairs, JessicaQ.  I'm not sure if it's part of a teacher's job to inspire their pupils with a love of learning music, but I do believe that this is what the best teachers do.  Maybe your friend is good teacher for other pupils, but if you enjoy the learning process so little that you want to give it all up, then it doesn't sound like he's the right teacher for you.  If he has reacted badly to your attempt to discuss the matter, it sounds as though he has difficulty separating the tuition relationship from the friendship.  Surely this is a failure on his part, not on yours, so please don't think that it's you who has somehow failed. 

 

My teacher doesn't constantly praise, and I wouldn't expect or want him to, but he is constantly positive and tries to build my confidence.  On the occasions when I've gone to my lesson feeling a bit down because I couldn't get the hang of something, I've always come away feeling better.   He teaches to Diploma level so technically he's excellent as well.  Most of all, he always expects me to do better than I believe I'm capable of, which I very much appreciate.  After 8 years, I still don't think that I could ask for a better teacher, and JessicaQ, I would advise anyone to find a teacher who they believe to be the best. 

 

I've never had music lessons with a friend or relative, but when I learnt to drive many years ago, I had driving lessons with a relative and that was traumatic enough! 

 

I hope you will be able to find a way of restoring both the friendship and music lessons, albeit with a more encouraging teacher.  I think there are very few people who don't need - and benefit from - praise occasionally, no matter what age they are or what activity they are doing.  And everybody deserves encouragement.  :grouphug:


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#29 JessicaQ

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:51

Thank you all for the comments. Suprisingly perhaps, previously when I sought counsel from friends and even professional counsellor, the advices generally discouraged open communication of issues, but were to focus on technical learning and disassociate feelings in the process. In this sense, actually, music teaching and learning are to do with culture or sub-culture to an extent as in some, the general consensus can be that music is essentially about technical competitiveness and a teacher can safely assume a certain superiority with that alone.

Now being able to look at things differently I think I can handle whatever outcome this tantrum will resolve to without further bringing onto myself any undue negativity.      


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#30 Norway

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 08:09

Thank you all for the comments. Suprisingly perhaps, previously when I sought counsel from friends and even professional counsellor, the advices generally discouraged open communication of issues, but were to focus on technical learning and disassociate feelings in the process. In this sense, actually, music teaching and learning are to do with culture or sub-culture to an extent as in some, the general consensus can be that music is essentially about technical competitiveness and a teacher can safely assume a certain superiority with that alone.

Now being able to look at things differently I think I can handle whatever outcome this tantrum will resolve to without further bringing onto myself any undue negativity.      

Brilliant Jessica! :)  Your happiness and well being is always more important than the music, so don't let anyone put you down! Please continue to keep in touch with us and let us know how you get on. :grouphug:


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