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First lesson etiquette?

violin music lesson

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#1 JessicaQ

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 16:15

I'm having the first lesson with a new teacher this weekend. She's a professor at a conservatory. A while back I asked my cousin to find a violin teacher for me, just to have an option, and she did. They were classmates at conservatory and are still good friends. I'm not sure how much she told her about me... not much I suspect. And we've so far only talked very briefly on the phone to set a time for the first lesson. She's not asked what level I'm at, how many years I've played or what I'm playing now.

So the question is, how do first lessons normally go? Am I supposed to play for her everything I'm learning now? That'd take longer than the lesson. Plus I don't really want to redo the works I've done so far. So if she starts pointing out things with my current repertoire, can I say I intend to learn something different? Would that be very rude? Shall I take the whole stack of music scores of things I've recently played and potentially want to learn with me?

Sorry if it seems all very trivial. I'm nervous and keep going the details through in my mind.     


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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 16:49

Well, I imagine she's going to want to hear you play something, to gauge where you're at and what needs work. I'd maybe choose something polished and something that is a work in progress. Chances are she won't want to hear each in its entirety. I guess you'll have to decide whether you play from memory or not. She might just want to hear scales. Much can be gleaned from how scales are approached and played.

Think about what your aims/objectives are for the lessons:-
- If you have something(s) in particular (be it technique or interpretation/musicality) that you want to work on, make a note to mention it. Chances are she'll spot something that she thinks needs work, just from watching you. (When Arnold Steinhardt went to Curtis he was assigned something like several weeks of bowing open strings. I seem to recall it was because his bow hold was too tense, but haven't got the book handy to check).
-Are there specific pieces you want to work towards?

I would be honest about not wanting to work on the pieces that you've already been working on (if it sounds like she might be heading in that direction). Perhaps couching it in terms of making a new start.

Have a think whether there are any questions that you need answering. Where she studied (I guess you know that); whether she performs etc (have a think, but you can always ask at a later date). I only mention it because I recall reading a thread ages ago discussing what new pupils might ask.

Depending on the teacher, it might be straight in with "Let's hear you play," or there might be chatting first.

HTH.
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#3 hummingbird

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 17:07

I started a series of sax lessons with a new woodwind teacher in the summer.  I arranged it by email, and I wrote a few lines about:

- the other instruments I played and the level I'd reached

- the fact that I played in one band on clarinet and a training band on sax

- what I wanted to get out of lessons (improve my tone)

I felt that this background information would enable the teacher to pitch the first lesson productively.

 

I don't have many sax books so I took them all to my first lesson, including my band music.  I don't think I used any of them in my first lesson, but at least it gave the teacher a full picture of where I'm at.  It's bound to be different for you though as you're at the other end of the scale (no pun intended!).

 

I'm really pleased to hear about your new lessons, and I hope you will be pleased with your new teacher :)


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#4 JessicaQ

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 03:16

Thank you. That gives me a better structure in mind. And thanks polkadot for remembering my problems. :blush: Actually I'm continuing lessons with my current teacher. Maybe I'll have lessons with both teachers, but at longer intervals with each. (Or is this very odd?) And because of this arrangement, I have to be specific about the repertoire choice. Paganini caprices are on the agenda with the other teacher so that's something I don't want to go into with the new teacher.

I think the first thing I (secretly) want with a new teacher is an objective and hopefully openly communicated assessment of my performance. For lessons that follow, I'm still in the mindset my current teacher has instilled in me, that I need a year of large amount of practice going through the major works to stabilize techniques before anything else. By that logic, I should learn Brahms concerto with the new teacher because I know my other teacher will not teach me that (following the tradition or what I see a line of eccentricity as his own teacher rejected it).

Or maybe the new teacher will have her own approach. She's renowned for Baroque music performance and leads chamber music teaching at the conservatory. Well it's all a bit exciting and intimidating at the same time. Now I have to concentrate on finding a way to steady myself when playing for her. I'm thinking Bach 1004 Allemande to start with. It's much safer than everything else. :P


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#5 Vicky Violin

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 09:37

Best of luck for the lesson, JessicaQ. 

 

I had a first lesson with a new teacher earlier this week and when we arranged it he asked me to do exactly what Badstrad suggested, i.e. prepare two pieces to play for him - one that I like and can play well and one I'm having difficulties with.  That gave him an idea of what we can work on and on the back of that he's given me some technical exercises to start with.  He also asked me what I want to get out of the lessons etc.  I let him take the lead but was happy with the way it went.

 

If you're unsure about it, why not give the teacher another call / email and just ask if there's anything you can prepare for the lesson?

 

Anyway, best of luck!  It sounds like a great opportunity.


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#6 adultpianist

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 11:52

I had a trial lesson and tge teacher asked n what I could do and asked me to play some scales
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#7 JessicaQ

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 14:24

On seeing Vicky Violin's post, I went counting my two, and felt on top of Bach there's ought to be a concerto, and Mendelssohn I haven't quite finished (counting as the work-in-progress), so dug out Mozart. 

Then on seeing adultpianist's post, I dug out Carl Flesch (BTW anyone finds his Scale System totally discouraging as I do?) ... Not much time left and I've only managed to polish up the C major ones. :o :lol:  

So I'll be off with three concertos, a book of the entire scale system, complete Bach 1001-1006, two sets of studies/caprices, plus the Flying Dutchman violin part... :ninja:  Will report back in 24 hours.  


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#8 Vicky Violin

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 19:29

I'm so glad you said that re Flesch and his scales - I thought it was just me!! He and I don't get on well at all...;-)
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#9 Chris H

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 08:04

Hope it went well, I see I am too late to reply with my bit of advice, but I have been on courses where Conservatoire teachers have given me lessons and my advice would have been not to be daunted by the fact they are higher level teachers. I found them to be incredibly helpful, and they weren't at all bothered that I was an adult learner who sometimes found it hard to adapt my playing to what they were asking.
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#10 JessicaQ

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 15:56

It went so completely out of my expectations that now, hours later, I'm still unsure if I can organise the words to describe it well enough. 

She chatted with me a little first and asked me to play something I felt comfortable with. I started with the Allemande as planned and after a couple of lines she stopped me and asked me to breathe in deeply and out for a few times and some basic body movements to loosen up. After that I was about 80% in my usual ease and started again and played through, with a lot more confidence. 

She asked me to play again while continuing to talk me through to loosen up, physically and mentally, and in the process commented that she saw no technical problem in my playing, everything was done correctly, only that I was very tense. She played along with me and sort of danced around a bit herself to encourage me to do the same. Then it became somehow like a psychotherapy session, a bit of exploring into why I'm so afraid of making mistakes (childhood lesson issues? perfectionist personality?). She obviously heard about my riding hobby and mentioned that I could use the principle of body balance in riding in violin playing.  

Then she went on explaining a method of mental preparedness for better control and hence greater confidence, which I've actually read about recently and was amazed at how this came across to me "in reality"... I left with a very simple assignment - to experiment the method on a scale and if possible extend to other things I'm playing.  

The whole experience is in such sharp contrast to my usual lessons. I'm happy in an overwhelmed way. Thanks so much for all your comments that helped me through the anxieties before it.  


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#11 BadStrad

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 17:52

Awwwe! That's brilliant. She sounds like just what you need.

Do you think you might consider having regular lessons with her (and stop having lessons with the other teacher)?
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#12 JessicaQ

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 08:31

Awwwe! That's brilliant. She sounds like just what you need.

Do you think you might consider having regular lessons with her (and stop having lessons with the other teacher)?

 

Thanks. Yes and in my practices it's already starting to feel like rediscovering violin playing. It even occurred to me that it'd be nice to be a violin teacher. See what a good teacher can do. ^_^ 

But I think I'll continue lessons with my other teacher too. It's complicated. But strictly music wise, I think he has higher expectations that I do want to have a try at reaching. With the new teacher I'm thinking perhaps once a month.  


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#13 SingingPython

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 08:48

I'm so pleased you've had such a positive experience.  Sounds like the kind of lesson I'd love someone to give my daughter actually - maybe in the future I'll have to PM you for the name :)


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#14 JessicaQ

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 09:07

I'm so pleased you've had such a positive experience.  Sounds like the kind of lesson I'd love someone to give my daughter actually - maybe in the future I'll have to PM you for the name :)

 

Of course. :) 


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#15 HelenVJ

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 09:48

Delighted to hear that this went so well. Hopefully it is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership, and will revitalise your relationship with the violin. For sure, it's complicated.


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