There are thousands upon thousands of Violin teachers available across NSW and indeed the world. How do you go about selecting the right Violin teacher for you?
This page consists comments which are of my own personal opinion, based on comparing students who have flourished to students that have had teachers that should not be teaching.
Please use this page as a guide to help select a teacher, and to being aware of what to avoid....
Look for diplomas, degrees and other 'official papers' to show that the teacher has dedicated themselves to their craft to be able to teach - but paperwork is not the only qualifications
QUALIFICATIONS AS A PERFORMER
Can the teacher actually play and do the things they are claiming to teach?
HOW TEACHERS ARE TRAINED TO BECOME VIOLIN TEACHERS:
Music and instrumental teaching is very much a 'cottage industry'. To become a qualified teacher all you need are your performance diplomas/degrees plus couple this with a police check.
There are no obligatory courses to attend to become a teacher. i.e. what 'normal' teachers go through at university of how to structure a course, how to consider learning difficulties, even how to behave with students ........ none of this is required learning for a instrumental teacher.
You might ask then, how does a teacher know how to teach? The answer is largely a scary one - the teacher is learning on the job - and the student they have is their experiment as to what will and won't work.
Added to this, a new teacher or inexperienced teacher is going to be looking back to their first lessons as a guide i.e. asking a adult to remember what they did when they were at an age as young as 4 or 5!
Understanding that this is the starting point to becoming a teacher - this hopefully gives reason a to why it is very important to ask questions of your potential teacher not just employ them because they say "I teach Violin"
Posture: poor posture when holding the instrument can lead to physical pain. Not knowing how to train the body to adapt to holding the Violin can lead to long term physical issues.
Horrible Sound: a sound of scratch and squeak that seems to never ever get better
Lack of Progress: this is the biggest indicator of a teacher without the right experience level for the student they are teaching.
Lack of Motivation: the verb attached to Violin is "playing". Playing the Violin whilst a task you need to work at shouldn't be a chore, or a torturous process. A good teacher is able to identify what will motivate and suggest music styles, performances, family engagement amongst many other concepts. Sometimes though through no fault of the teacher, the instrument isn't the right one for the student and the student may be better suited to another instrument or activity.
If you are in lessons, and it is a growing difficulty to get the student to attend lessons, please address this matter with the teacher - as the worst thing that can happen to a student is to go from loving the instrument to hating it because of being forced to play.
Talk to the teacher:
Tell them your story, talk about what you want to gain from the lessons, talk about the students personality. You will soon gain a sense of rapport with the teacher and gauge if they understand you/the student.
Ask simple questions like: "what are your qualifications?", "How long have you been teaching for?", "Do you take students through exams, if yes AMEB or Suzuki?"
Monitor the lessons and progress:
The best way to help a student in practice, is to hear what is happening in lessons to re-enforce what happens in the lesson at home. If there is a concern about a lack of progress, ask how to improve. Specific answers from the teacher demonstrate the teacher is monitoring and understands the student at hand, generic answers show the opposite.
Listen to the teacher play:
If the teacher is unable to demonstrate that they can or were able to play - then what chance do they have to teach?
There is a Working with Children police check which every teacher should have undergone. Please ensure your teacher has a current version of this document.
Lessons should be held in a room without locked doors, and with a clear window so that people can see in at any time.
There should be no hiding/masking of what happens in a lesson.
Personally, I have met too many students who have come from teachers that should not be teaching. Two examples of the too frequent experiences I have are:
- Students who can't read music after 5 years of study: Learning to read music should take 2 weeks to a month for someone yearr one or older.
- Students who can't use 4th finger (the pinky) after 3 years of lessons: Use of 4th fingers should be happening easily within the first 6 months.
There are more good teachers than bad, to find a bad teacher is bad luck, to find a good teacher takes a little effort, to find a great teacher is even harder. The best teacher is one that will look at the student and help them go as far as they can, and not only grow them technically, but inspire the growth, love and passion of the instrument so that once they have their final lesson, the student wants the Violin to continue be part of their life.
I am passionate about my craft and my profession. I am happy to help answer any questions about teaching that I can - whether the questions be about me, or other personal experiences.
Best wishes to you in your search for a teacher!