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#1 hazymus

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 18:16

Last year I took on a violin pupil who's just turned 12.  She had learned from a professional player and plays really well and sensitively, but has gaps in her general musical abilities which I'm keen to fill.  She is now having individual theory lessons from another teacher as that knowledge was way behind. She had taken Grade 5 Royal Irish Academy of Music exam before she came to me but I would estimate her all-round musical level to be at ABRSM Grade 3-4.  I get the impression that she has learned to play pieces at the expense of other musical aspects. 

 

I have always supported our local village music festival, entering a pupil if they're at the right level, which is on in two weeks time.  I'm not saying she has a 'tiger mother' but she has said she would like me to enter her for a festival in another town and also for the Feis Ceol, which is a high-level one in Dublin.  She has even told me about the syllabus for this.  My problem is that I find so much lesson time is spent on the festival pieces that I wouldn't want to do more than one a year. 

 

To put this into context, this is from their website "Today, Feis Ceoil is an event of major significance in the development of musical talent in Ireland. To be successful at the Feis is very important in the musical career of many entrants, for many others it is a means of obtaining enhanced enjoyment from their music while also providing a yardstick by which to measure their personal standards."


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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 18:49

Sounds like a situation requiring something of a balancing act. 

 

Not sure if you are just venting or wondering how others have coped in similar situations, but I wondered about the following:-

 

Are the festival pieces beyond her playing ability as they take up so much time?  Or is it maybe that she doesn't know how to practice efficiently?  Is there a way to reduce the time spent on them?

 

Is there a reason that the competition pieces can't be used as a basis for filling the "gaps"?  What kind of things are these gaps?

 

Do you feel the mother's demands are undermining you and/or your teaching ethos?

 

Do you want to continue working with the child if the mother is "too much"?


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#3 hazymus

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 19:20

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  It's made me think exactly why I don't want to do this.  It's mainly that I feel the mother's demands are undermining my teaching ethos.  The child is from a culture that puts much emphasis on study and achievements. The child has talent and focus and is rewarding to teach, because she admirably carries out every task set and plays with real feeling but I wish they both were not so serious about it.

 

When she first came to me the gaps would have been sightreading, use of dynamics, intonation in 3rd position, basic theory eg. keys.  At that point her mother was asking me if she could take Grade 6 ABRSM, I explained why that would not be possible yet.  The child was not happy with short pieces and kept asking for longer and more difficult pieces which she really wasn't able for. She now realises it's preferable to play shorter, less challenging pieces well.

 

That's my way of looking at teaching.  In the last year I had thought they had both modified their 'goal' approach to learning the violin but now I'm wondering about that.


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#4 hazymus

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 18:22

I've just sent an email to the pupil's mother explaining that although her daughter is rewarding to teach and plays well and sensitively, it's not my style of teaching to put pupils in for more than our local village music festival. I suggested that she might prefer the approach of one of the music colleges in Dublin city.  I said she might be interested in going to the Royal Irish Academy of Music open day in November.  In addition I mentioned the  DIT Conservatory of Music, which also has a junior department (where I did a term's sub teaching).  I hesitatingly  told her also about the Young European Strings school which   ".... specialises in the early development and training of young professional musicians.".  I said that I have met the two teachers who run the school and would describe them as strict teachers - but they may take the advanced students and that there are other teachers there too."  (This establishment would appear to be very goal orientated.)

 

I hope she takes it well. English is not her first language so I thought it would be better for her to see the information in writing rather than having a discussion.


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#5 BadStrad

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 19:14

That sounds like a well reasoned and useful response. I hope the mother and child appreciate the suggestions.
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#6 hazymus

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 16:18

Thank you, I appreciate your opinion.


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#7 thara96

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 16:30

Good luck!

 

I hope your recommendations are not seen as intruding but as a true effort to help. 


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