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Is any instructor qualified to teach an adult beginner?
who can justify spending more than 2hrs/day at it?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Composer
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November 3, 2012 - 6:19 pm
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I don't buy the notion that adult beginner turns into violinist after 2hrs/day * 365 days/year * 12 years.   I practice single note scales and arpeggios 2 hrs a day.   Its horribly inefficient because I'm not in the 'cartilage' years of a 5 year old.   Neither are the neural structures altered from single note scales unlike the formative years of a child.   Pretty much every single super credible instructor learned from age 5 or 6.  Why would they understand the fundamental problem an adult beginner faces?  Which is, Too inefficient methods, too little time.   3hrs/day is limbo,  4/5hrs/day is pretty much a full time job.  So you're stuck at 2hrs max and the problem is, the hand doesn't automatically shape itself so that accurate throws of fingers result in them landing accurately on each pass through a scale.  Ricci states this as much  in his book, that people practice single note scales for years and still can't obtain the evenness of pitch.

I think every instructor out there teaches adults by content.  The suzuki craze is really just that;  play the content, the instructor bs's you with some rah rahs and then move on to the next tune...and so on. 

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ftufc
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November 3, 2012 - 8:34 pm
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You have some very valid points Dave,,,,, but personally, at 57, I'm hoping I've already made a successful career choice, and I'm just doing this for shits and giggles.  And I know I'm far further ahead having had a great teacher for the past 10 months.

I'm just LOVING this experience, and I'm so freakin glad I finally did it, regardless of being a stiff, dusty-minded, crusty-assed, old fart!!!

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KindaScratchy
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November 3, 2012 - 8:37 pm
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All good points. Any good instructor -- especially someone teaching an adult -- should first determine the goal of his/her student.

As a 50 year old beginner, I have no delusions that I'll be a professional violinist someday. I'm not going to make a second career out of this. I just want to play well enough to entertain myself and maybe a few other people eventually. I'd also like to be just good enough to be able to jam with a small group of other musicians at some point.

Then, as you say, we adults have limitations that kids do not. Time -- on a weekly basis and in terms of a lifetime -- is one. Physical limitations are another (as my wrist keeps telling me).

Mostly, anyone who teaches adults has to understand that adults learn differently. We're more likely to want to understand how things work and the processes involved in learning something new. We also have years of experience -- whether in music or life in general -- that may enhance or limit how well we learn.

And, of course, as adults, we have the ability and power to take control of situations, so if a particular teacher isn't meeting our needs, we can either give the teacher feedback to change and improve, or move on and find a teacher who is more compatible.

That's my two cents, anyway.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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DanielB
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November 3, 2012 - 10:39 pm
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beginner turns into violinist after 2hrs/day * 365 days/year * 12 years

???  Where the heck do people come up with that sort of arbitrary nonsense?  LOL

I'd bet a donut that there are some people that put in that amount of time, and that *still* nobody would actually want to listen to.  

As to neural pathways and all, well I don't know.  I would agree that children in some ways learn quicker, much as they often heal quicker.  But that is no reason to get discouraged if one is an adult, whether over learning or an injury.  Adults do have the advantages of wider range of experience and less of a tendency to want to do everything different just for the sake of being different. 

So far as time in the sense of lifetime, well.. Don't have to be old to run out of lifetime.  Kids die too, and the truth is nobody knows when it will happen for them.  It's just the way it is, and the price we pay for being alive.  Younger folks have more of a tendency to think they will live forever, and that can be a disadvantage compared to older folks who are out to get something done in however much time they have left. 

When it comes to time in the day that one can spend practising or playing, everybody gets the same number of hours in a day.  It's how we choose to spend them that matters. 

Personally, I don't think art results from the careful avoidance of mistakes.  I think it comes when we try to do things the way we personally feel they should be done.

But meh.  Just my opinions.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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November 3, 2012 - 11:01 pm
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KindaScratchy said
Mostly, anyone who teaches adults has to understand that adults learn differently. We're more likely to want to understand how things work and the processes involved in learning something new. We also have years of experience -- whether in music or life in general -- that may enhance or limit how well we learn.

That's my two cents, anyway.

I think that's the problem with most adult's, wanting to figure out all the technique's involved in something. Where as, kid's just do it.

DanielB said

As to neural pathways and all, well I don't know.  I would agree that children in some ways learn quicker, much as they often heal quicker.   Kids die too, and the truth is nobody knows when it will happen for them.  It's just the way it is, and the price we pay for being alive. But meh.  Just my opinions.

But the odd's are more against older folk'. Maybe if we (as adult's) spent more time practicing and not trying to figure out how everything work's or doesn't work then maybe we'd progress a wee bit faster.

It's true that everyone has the same amount of hour's in a day, but some people are very busy and don't have as much time scheduled practice, so consequently they progress a much slower than those that do have a more free time.

 

And that's my penny.

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November 4, 2012 - 3:19 am
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KindaScratchy,  I think the problem I describe applies to the simplest music making, whether its a 1-octave scale or 'Lightly Row'.   For example, lets say someone has practiced countless hours on 'Lightly Row' and has beautiful tone but no vibrato, good intonation, etc etc and it compares well with some professional reference on a mp3 file.

Then lets say some smart alec asks this person to play a 1-octave A Major scale in 1st position with the simplest rhythm, dynamics, simple detache, no vibrato etc.  He plays it once through, the smart alec requests he does it again.  The smart alec then inquires:

"Why was the B-natural played sharp the second time compared to the first?"

Proud Violinist:  "It was just a smallmistake from a lack of practicing scales. No big deal"

Smart alec: "Then you are not a competent violinist!"

Proud Violinist: "Academic nonsense!  I am an artist with my own agenda"

My opinion is that the smart alec is right in the classical world.   You could show up at some institute like Curtis, proudly play the second movement of the Brahms concerto pretty well, and then they would do the Smart alec routine and if you couldn't do it,  they wouldn't hesitate to tell you to come back when you can play the violin.  Labor is not a virtue.

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November 4, 2012 - 3:49 am
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I think the problem is that both instructors and adult beginners are not even aware there is a problem.   My basic argument is that the adult brain does not absorb new motor patterns into long term memory via rigorous rote learning methods.  The only way that method works at all for the adult is if its a full time job that you can never escape.  But then you can't economically justify the time to do it.  Also, the constant time consuming repetition of elemental work is like a boat anchor around the neck. In contrast, the early child learner does not have to practice scales and arpeggios nearly as laboriously in adulthood.  In fact, they can skip practice altogether for short periods of time with no adverse effect.

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Fiddlestix
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November 4, 2012 - 6:21 am
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Composer said

I don't buy the notion that adult beginner turns into violinist after 2hrs/day * 365 days/year * 12 years.   I practice single note scales and arpeggios 2 hrs a day.   I think every instructor out there teaches adults by content.

  The suzuki craze is really just that;  play the content, the instructor bs's you with some rah rahs and then move on to the next tune...and so on. 

I haven't figured, out and probably never will, if this is a confession or submission. Sound's to me like you tried Suzuki's method and have failed. Mr. Suzuki was 100 year's old when he passed in 1998 and the Suzuki "craze" as you term it, has been around for half a century or more, so I don't think I would call that a craze.

Just what exactly is your definition of a "violinist", that word is really a misnomer. Most people think of a "violinist" as a professional who play's concert's, symphony's etc... when in fact they are nothing more than a "violin player" who play's well enough to get paid for it.

 

Composer said
I think the problem is that both instructors and adult beginners are not even aware there is a problem.   My basic argument is that the adult brain does not absorb new motor patterns into long term memory via rigorous rote learning methods.  
      

 The normal adult brain tend's to be cluttered with past information that is no longer needed or used, therefore something that lie's dormant doesn't really take up any space. There's plenty of room in the adult brain that hasn't been occupied with garbage. All the Encyclopedia's ever written wouldn't fill the human brain. Just like the advert. " There's alway's room for Jello".

I think.

 

One more penny added.     coffee1

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Picklefish
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November 4, 2012 - 7:02 am
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I think every instructor out there teaches adults by content.  The suzuki craze is really just that;  play the content, the instructor bs's you with some rah rahs and then move on to the next tune…and so on.

 

Well, as someone with two adult beginner students I can tell you that its really no different than teaching a child. The essence of instruction is the same, start at the start and work progressively through the list of skill required. Suzuki believes that 42 skills are learned just in the Twinkle Twinkle song and its variants.

There are good teachers and bad, good students and less good (lol), I mean the list goes on and on.

Your particular difficulties not withstanding I do not believe in "more practice = more improvement". I believe in three separate smaller practice sessions that focus on particular issues rather than a 2+ hour practice marathon. I believe the data that says the brain needs time to absorb and apply the information. well, my brain for sure.

So student A is a 40 year woman who is eager to learn violin/ fiddle. She has had 3 lessons and hasnt progressed from the first set of information. She struggles with the bow hold, violin hold and fingerings. Each lesson has been 45 min long, and she performs correctly by the end of each lesson. I can tell she isnt practicing during the week.

Student B is a mid 40's woman who wants to learn the classical side of violin. She is the one with the acrylic nails who refuses to trim them enough to get a vertical attack on the strings. She has made great progress despite this and has managed to get a handle on the bow holds and fingerings. Her fingernails require a modified violin hold in order to accomodate her acrylics. (lol) She has canceled the last two lessons (family visiting) and now that I raised her rate, has decided on everyother week.

two people "eager" to learn, not putting in the work, making the adjustments necessary and not having the commitment needed. But...They are having the time of their lives with this. I get nothing but smiles and attention when Im there. They are great students in everyother sense...questions, fearlessness etc. Its what they want to do, its how they want to do it and they are paying for it so Im obliged to fit their needs rather than require they conform to Flesch's idea of the model student.

Now student C is in the 9th grade and has been with me for 11 months now. It is becomming increasingly difficult to stay ahead of him in skill and Im sure he will need a more advanced teacher next year! lol! But its been a great motivator and challenge for me. So I agree with you, but its not always so cut  and dry that "its the teachers fault".

If you have time to skype and the internets right, I dont mind vidchatting with any of you, if I can help. I wasnt able to help Grofica with her shifting but It highlighted for me another area I needed to work on. I think it works both ways.thumbs-up

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Ferret
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November 10, 2012 - 4:33 am
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As an adult learner, a teacher is a 'tool' that you use to get a desired result. Not so with a child.

How well you use that tool is up to you.

hats_off

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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