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Practice
Needing a teacher
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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stringy
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November 6, 2020 - 7:50 am
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Dont know if this topic has been posted before, probably has but I cant see it anywhere..I have read about thIs on other forums with various opinions. What are Your views on having to have a teacher, is it possible to learn to a decent standard without one, i am not talking about soloist but  just a decent level.views appreciated.

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GregW
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November 6, 2020 - 8:15 am
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I dont think you have to have a teacher.  Especially in this day and age with youtube videos,  mp3's that can easliy be slowed down and analyzed, books and online learning which basically is a teacher without any feedback or personalized instruction.  Theres more out there for the self learner than ever.

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Gordon Shumway
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November 6, 2020 - 8:35 am
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I think it depends on whether you want to be a fiddler or a, classical, violinist.

I detect a bias towards fiddling on this forum. It might coincidentally be in the name, but Pierre is a classical violinist, and he sells instruments for classical violinists. But if fiddling is your thing, teach yourself, as they did in the Appalachians 100 years ago, but don't expect to become a classical violinist without lessons.

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway
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November 6, 2020 - 8:37 am
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GregW said
I dont think you have to have a teacher.  Especially in this day and age with youtube videos,  mp3's that can easliy be slowed down and analyzed, books and online learning which basically is a teacher without any feedback or personalized instruction.  Theres more out there for the self learner than ever.

  

It's not the videos that need to be analysed, it's yourself! That's what teachers do.

Andrew

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Mouse
November 6, 2020 - 8:39 am
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I have recently stopped taking lessons. I think it depends on your goals, circumstances and abilities. There are those who I consider hard core that believe, no matter what, you need a teacher. I, seriously, have not noticed it here. There are many instrumentalists who never had a lesson.

My circumstances, I am a senior citizen. I am not interested in playing in any groups, for any audience. This is just for my own benefit and enjoyment.

My goal? I just want to be able to sit and play simple songs for my own enjoyment. I won’t get into a lot of detail.

I quit because, with lessons, at least for me, it was learn a new technique or whatever and work on a song really quick. I never was able to spend enough time on a song to be able to actually play it, and get a firm grasp of what was being learned in that song. Maybe the typical young student can do that, I could not. My last, and best teacher, adjusted to me and we did spend a good deal of time on a piece, but I was still not able to play a song or song section before we added to it. 

New techniques were never allowed to sink in and used comfortably before being pressed on to move forward. That does not work for me. I need more time. It seems like lessons never have a brake pedal. That said, I did need them to learn the basics (bow hold, etc), shifting, some music terms, etc. But, I reached a point with both my cello and viola that I needed to sit back and just let what I was taught become second nature. I can contact my instructor if I feel I am ready and want to add to what I have learned. If I was more serious about my playing, I would choose one of the three instruments, most likely cello.

Since I quit my cello lessons to work on my own, I feel I have improved. I am working on Chanson Triste (a rushed lesson song), and Edelweiss (from a book I purchased). 

On my viola, I am still working on the song we were doing in lessons. One of the few classical pieces that I connected with. I am also working on a song from my time, not classical.

I find that lessons tend to use classical songs. I find them too difficult to follow, I find the change from the beginning to the middle (movements?) to be disjointed and make no sense, therefore I stumble. I find the middle to end to be the same issue. I also do not see where dynamics fall into place on most of the pieces. I don’t hear where p, f, crescendo, etc are needed. I just do not get it. I don’t feel like a p, f, crescendo needs to be anywhere. Like jazz, to me. People here know I do not like jazz. There are some classical pieces that I do not have that issue, but few and far between. But, teachers use classical music. I am not wanting to learn like a child does with the goal of playing in a school, college or community orchestra, or playing professionally. Therefore, for me, lessons are not really the best avenue. I am a recreational player, I guess.

I am not as stressed during my playing time, now. I can feel it when sit down and pick up my instrument. I am now comfortable.

I do think that if you have long term goals that include more serious playing than mine, you might need an instructor, at least to get started.

So, I think it is different for each person.

Cello and Viola Time! 

(Former Username - cid)

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Gordon Shumway
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November 6, 2020 - 8:46 am
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Interestingly, I did teach myself classical guitar for a few years (Frederick Noad's books are great) - enough to be able to play Llobet for pleasure, but I quit because I hated the loneliness of it, and also group uke playing/thrashing destroyed my fingernails. So now I play the uke and violin in order to play in groups. Covid's a bitch.b-slap

Andrew

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Mouse
November 6, 2020 - 8:48 am
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stringy said
Dont know if this topic has been posted before, probably has but I cant see it anywhere..I have read about thIs on other forums with various opinions. 

  

Oh, by the way, @stringy, it really does not matter if a topic has been brought up before, as far as I am concerned. Ask away, discuss away, as far as I can tell, going through old posts, which I am currently doing, to find answers is quite difficult. Also, this is an entirely different group of active members, techniques and equipment have changed over the years, so revisiting an already discussed topic? As far as I am concerned, is great. This is not being stated as an admin, this is just my personal thought. 

That said, please do not change his topic subject and respond to my comment above. I just wanted to make sure Stringy knew that I, for one, have no problem with repeated questions.

Cello and Viola Time! 

(Former Username - cid)

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GregW
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November 6, 2020 - 10:21 am
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Gordon Shumway said

GregW said

I dont think you have to have a teacher.  Especially in this day and age with youtube videos,  mp3's that can easliy be slowed down and analyzed, books and online learning which basically is a teacher without any feedback or personalized instruction.  Theres more out there for the self learner than ever.

  

It's not the videos that need to be analysed, it's yourself! That's what teachers do.

 

i didnt say analyze a video i said mp3's that can be slowed down and analyzed  (to figure out tunes) but after reading over my quick typing earlier i could see where possibly my bad grammer got in the way.

That's what teachers do.   Yes I have one and feel fortunate to be able to afford going and that she is available.  I cant say without a teacher someone cant learn an instrument to their satisfaction.  I dont feel I can on the violin.

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Jim Dunleavy
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November 6, 2020 - 11:09 am
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I can only tell you of my own experiences; although I play fiddle tunes (mainly Irish, but others too) I lean more towards classical violin.

I taught myself from YouTube videos and by posting critique videos on this very forum for best part of 5 years (started at age 59, so definitely a mature starter). Then a local music school opened up and started offering lessons at a very reasonable rate and I gave them a try; luckily the violin teacher there was a very talented guy and an inspiring teacher. I had to give up the lessons after about 6 months as I developed severe back problems (nothing to do with violin playing).

I would say I learned more about my playing in those 6 months than in the previous 5 years; mainly concerning the use of the bow, which I had always struggled with.

Even though I'm back to self teaching, I feel the lessons put me on the right path.

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Mimi Aysha
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November 6, 2020 - 11:13 am
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I spent 6 months learning on my own - reading music and got through book 1 and 2....essential elements.

Then took both for a while fiddle and classical sporadically, just to pick up some techniques and give me a start....being able to specifically focus on how to improve without trying to figure it out on your own I think are the real benefits. 

Teacher choice is such a big deal too, I left my first one in a heartbeat when she laughed at my beginner fiddle, it was a cheapo from amazon, it was all I could afford, I was so embarrassed - 2nd teacher took the fiddle, put some spare strings on, messed with the bridge and played it for me, said, "that'll do!"....we are now good friends.

Cost and time came into play, but luckily I get to visit with both teachers as friends and get advice, when I get frustrated I book a lesson to get me back on track, as I don't want to take advantage of them....

My thoughts, learn at your own pace and add a few lessons (online or in person) when you move to the next step or you get stuck on a technique and need personal instruction, as it always seems easier when someone shows you.

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SharonC
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November 6, 2020 - 11:42 am
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I don’t think you have to have a teacher.  I consider myself to be a pretty good self-learner in many things.  Having said that, depending on what you want to learn, a good teacher (and a good teacher/student match) is invaluable. 

A good teacher is not only going to show you (& correct) your technique, he/she is going to open doors to your learning.  During the learning process, they are going to share their experience with you.  There is an element of “hands-on” that is unique.  I think it is comparable to apprentice training with a trade or similar skill.  Again, doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own. 

Also important is if the teacher is a good match for you.  A teacher might have a method of teaching that really does not align with your goals.  Many teachers have a structure that is focused on teaching children and not so much adults.  Not a bad thing, but if the type of approach that they have is not flexible enough to make you feel comfortable, it’s probably not a good match for you.

I talked to another adult beginner who decided to take up violin, & she called around to find a teacher (this was in a major city, so lots of teachers around).  Some told her they did not teach adults.  I’m thinking that’s okay.  Not a bad thing, because children learn differently.  I think maybe it’s comparable to a teacher who teaches kindergarten and one who teaches high school English—one is not better than the other, they are just different.   But one person she called not only told her that he did not teach adults, he proceeded to tell her why she was wrong for trying to start violin as an adult.  Very unfortunate (and pompous of him, I think). 

After 2 years learning (sporadically) on my own, I decided to get a teacher.  I have had weekly lessons with her for 5 years now.  My only musical background prior to this was playing percussion while in school as a child. 

When I made this decision, I was fortunate to find an excellent teacher—one that is a good match for me.  I want to focus on classical, so that’s what we do. My teacher had an adult student who really enjoyed playing church hymns—so that’s what they did.  She recognizes that adults are different in their learning styles and goals, and adjusts to it. I initially had a lesson every two weeks, and then moved to a weekly lesson.  I like having weekly lessons, and so it works for me.  But I think sporadic lessons as you want/need them are fine, too.

I like structure—I’m a very organized person.  I initially approached this lesson thing in a way that was very structured.  I created spreadsheets, & tracked when I practiced, how long I practiced, what I practiced for the week, etc.,  

I would gather this ”data”, and torment myself with it.  I would decide, for example, having analyzed my spreadsheet data, that I needed to complete X number of measures of a particular piece “by close of business on Friday” or something like that.  And that I needed to do these things to “perform” well at my lesson (I was afraid of playing “badly” in front of my teacher).  I know.  I was actually a bit too regimented.  I thought I had to be—to justify wanting to learn this instrument as an adult.  I’ve relaxed a bit now—spreadsheets are gone, at least.

None of this structure-torture came from my teacher—it was all self-manufactured.  If I go to a lesson, and I did not spend as much time practicing, or I’ve shifted my focus to another piece or something else from what I’ve been working on for the week, etc., so be it.  My teacher meets me where I am. 

So, if you don’t want lessons, you can do it without it.  But if you think you might have something to gain from lessons, you might want to give it a try.

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stringy
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November 6, 2020 - 12:57 pm
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Thank you all for your replies, they are most helpful. I have beenthinking of trying to find a teacher but they are few and far between where I live and also the cost is quite prohibitive as I have a badly paid job, but I was thinking maybe every two weeks would be better than nothing, and they would only be half hour lessons due as I say to the cost. I have been playing a year and nine months now and feel I am not too bad as I can now at least hear when I am out of tune;) to be honest one of the things I worry about with a teacher is will they take me straight back to square one, time I can't afford.

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Mouse
November 6, 2020 - 1:47 pm
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@stringy, If you hve a reliable internet connection, look into online lessons. I was doing my viola online and preferred them above in person. That was a huge surprise. 

I could practice right up tp lesson time. I could re-enforce lesson material immediately after the lesson, No having to pack up and drive to and from lessons. I was more comfortable. The instructor was able to see how I was holding my viola and fingering it. 

I was amazed. I was able to have a stand with a clipboard next to me and was able to take notes as we went along. In the studio, there was no way to do that. 

If you cannot find an instructor, and/or have COVID issues, and who does not, this might be an avenue for you. You might be able to find one that is able to do affordable once or twice a week or even when the instructor has a time slot to fill. 

The music shop was allowed to open and have studio lessons, but I, and every other student my instructor has, opted to keep the online method. 

Of course, you have to have the ability to set up your device in a way you can be seen and you can see. I used my camera and reversed the screen so I could see what the instructor could see before my lesson. I just adjusted my chair if I had to. Pretty much knew where ro put everything after the first lesson online. 

Just another avenue.

Cello and Viola Time! 

(Former Username - cid)

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ELCB
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@stringy -  Hi!

There's some great advice in this thread!

I think if you feel stuck or frustrated and you've revisited basic tutorials to refine your bowing hold/pressure, rhythm, finger pressure, intonation, etc...  blah, blah, blah.  Maybe you just feel you're not quite getting the hang of something and can't figure out why. 

Paying a teacher to help you would be so much better than giving up from frustration! 

There's a thread started under "Upcoming Events" about the Fiddlershop Violin Academy.

I'm pretty sure Fiddlerman said there would be some one-on-one free help(?) available - maybe check it out/inquire if they can assist you with your particular issues. 

https://academy.fiddlershop.com/ 

I'm starting my 18th month.  I was able to pinpoint areas I needed to focus on/rework - everything is coming together (vibrato and double stops, too), feeling much more natural now! 

So, I'm happy with my progress and feel time is the necessary element for me - at this moment.  I also try to remind myself that it's healthy to just step back from all my analyzing for a bit and just enjoy what I can play - reboot my brain, refresh my attitude.

If I ever get to where I can't progress on my own, banging my head against the wall for a few weeks (I'm stubborn, not patient), then I wouldn't hesitated to find online virtual help.

I Love Music Smiley- Emily

Btw, I know I've mentioned it elsewhere... I believe if you decide to pay for someone to help you, they are suppose to provide you with satisfactory service - with what you want/need!  Sometimes I feel this should be clarified, up front, because perspective students (of any age) can feel intimidated by "teachers". 

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stringy
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thanks emily for the advice. I am progressing, or I feel I  am. SInce i posted my last couple of vids everything seems to have suddenly improved 100 per cent, I may even upload another vid soon to show you were I am at, but at the moment I am fitting a new kitchen so that takes priority:) one of the things that has got me to thinking about a teacher is that I have read elsewhere its impossible to teach yourself to play violin and it got me wondering if I am doing things right, which may sound stupid,  but I am a perfectionist and think I should by now be a lot further on than I am. on other sites people say you can learn fiddle but its not possible to be any gOod at classical without a teacher, which I dont know if its true or not due to snobbishness with some other people, you probably know the type, in any case I have now decided to search again for teachers near me, even if to have just one lesson a month, this is the best site of all to ask real people for advice, so thats what I have done, and took it all on board, thanks again everyone for taking the time to answer my question;)

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AndrewH
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I would say it's possible but extremely difficult to be good at classical violin without a teacher. There is simply a much greater range of technique required for most classical music. And the reason classical violin teachers are so strict about basic technique is to enable extended techniques later on.

I say this even though I reached semi-professional level in classical music without a teacher. (It took me 13 years to get there, and I've been playing for 20 years now.) The real key is getting regular feedback on your playing from competent players. I got it by playing in orchestras and getting advice from other musicians. While video tutorials can be informative, and there are books like Simon Fischer's The Violin Lesson that offer extremely detailed explanations, there is no substitute for a second pair of eyes and ears.

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Gordon Shumway
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AndrewH said
While...there are books like Simon Fischer's The Violin Lesson that offer extremely detailed explanations, there is no substitute for a second pair of eyes and ears. 

I have three of his booksdazed. My teacher liked one of the early ones, but when I suggested I donate my three to her teaching association, she laughed and agreed that that would be best as long as I never replaced any of them.

(during the last 20 years I've discarded about 1,000 books and replaced about 10 of them)

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway
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GregW said

Gordon Shumway said

GregW said

I dont think you have to have a teacher.  Especially in this day and age with youtube videos,  mp3's that can easliy be slowed down and analyzed, books and online learning which basically is a teacher without any feedback or personalized instruction.  Theres more out there for the self learner than ever.

  

It's not the videos that need to be analysed, it's yourself! That's what teachers do.

 

i didnt say analyze a video i said mp3's that can be slowed down and analyzed  (to figure out tunes) but after reading over my quick typing earlier i could see where possibly my bad grammer got in the way.

That's what teachers do.   Yes I have one and feel fortunate to be able to afford going and that she is available.  I cant say without a teacher someone cant learn an instrument to their satisfaction.  I dont feel I can on the violin.

  

Don't worry, Greg, I was deliberately paraphrasing you to make a point about subjectivity being a problem for the self-taught.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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November 8, 2020 - 10:31 am
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The Academy is in the super early stages but we hope to have it full of valuable information soon. Thanks for sharing the link Emily.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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