Another institute question

said: Feb 18, 2006
 104 posts

It’s that time of year (deposits and decisions!), so here is a question I would love to get feedback on.

Teachers: Do you recommend institutes across the board? In other words, if you could convince every student to go to institute, would you? Are there any students you’d recommend stay AWAY from institutes? Why? Have you ever had negative consequences from a student attending an institute? How do you feel about other teachers possibly “undoing” your work, or does this not even cross your mind?

said: Feb 18, 2006
 32 posts


I am on a time crunch, so I will be brutally honest here. Yes, I have experienced negative things at institute. At two different institutes, very “big name” teachers treated my son in totally unacceptable ways. One was overly demanding—she spent the entire first masterclass on trying to make my son bow the way she did (NOT how he was taught). Small, small, and unimportant point. Then she chastised him for looking at me, as he was very unsure what to do. (He was 5.) (We did not go back for the remainder of his masterclasses.)
Next year, different institute, different teacher: The masterclass teacher wanted my son to play a book one piece (she was a book 1 teacher trainer for that institute, and her book 1 teacher trainees were observing her), but he wanted to do a book 2. She finally relented, with obvious disdain in her voice. Then in one of his lessons, she wanted my son to put his violin thumb a different way (not a problem with me), but she grabbed it and jerked it. He started to cry (it hurt), then she told him that “tears won’t get him anywhere” with her.
As a teacher, I have had the misfortune of interacting with other teachers who think their way is the only way, and have seen them try to force their obviously contrary way on students, with the air-apparent that they are far superior to the home teacher.
That all being said, institutes are good experiences. Overall, I tell my students that if something different is shown them, to try it. It may not work out, but learning flexibility is a skill to learn also.
There are not certain students I recommend staying away from institutes. I do look over institute information, and try to guide my students on which institute will fit them the best, though.

said: Feb 19, 2006
 104 posts

Perky, thanks for sharing. We did have a couple of negative experiences at institute last summer, but nothing that would keep us from returning. I do think it can be hard for kids to get to Institute and have a different teacher asking them to do (in some cases) entirely different things. Last year, two of my kids were asked to try a different playing posture and they resisted, but one of them finally adjusted to this new posture, and when we came home, our regular teacher HATED the new posture! So, we abandoned it. But we did also make some leaps. But I did wonder how the regular teachers feel about kids going to Institute and picking up entirely new techniques, postures, etc, and whether it ever caused a problem. If only there was ONE “right” way to make music, it would be easy, right?

Rachel Schott said: Feb 20, 2006
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

OMIGOSH I hope no potential Institute parents read these posts! ;-)

My students have come home energized, excited to tell me new things, with new violin friends…only once have I had a difference of opinion with a teacher (regarding bow hold) and we dealt with it like this: “Thanks for giving your Institute teacher 100% effort! You really made me look good! Let’s go back to doing it this way from now on.” Case closed.

No doubt there are a few rotten teachers out there—but I believe the Institute experience is far worth the risk. Especially when you remember there is so much more than just private or masterclass teaching going on.

said: Feb 20, 2006
 122 posts

Even if a student learns something new their home teacher doesn’t like, the child learns to become flexible which I think is important for becoming a good musician and a good student! I’ve had students taught things at institutes I don’t like but I tell them it’s neat they are learning to do things in different ways, and just being able to take a lesson from another teacher and trying hard and being a good listener is a good skill to learn. I think the best thing that comes out of a student going to institute is they make violin friends, take classes and lessons every day (which helps summer practicing stay daily), and they learn there’s a much bigger Suzuki world out there!

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Rebecca said: Feb 20, 2006
 23 posts

Amen, junebug!

“Life without music would be a mistake.” -Nietsche

said: Feb 21, 2006
 89 posts

Ten years of institutes with four very different students at my house and never once a negative experience with a teacher.

Our home teachers usually send us off with instructions to have fun, learn a lot, and to give the institute teacher a chance…specifically to be willing to try new ideas and different ways of doing things. Sometimes we’ll come home and incorporate those new ideas, sometimes they’ll be dropped like a hot potato.

Ghost People said: Feb 22, 2006
 94 posts

I have to say I respect my daughter’s teacher more because she will carefully consider any new or different technique that a master class teacher offers. She’ll incorporate what works and ignore what doesn’t.

said: Jun 20, 2006
 22 posts

My teacher always ‘told’ (lol) us to go to the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute in Sandy, Utah………I have been there eleven years straight and I love every minute of it. It is exhausting, but so worth it! I encourage everybody to go! Every once in awhile you have ‘weird’ teachers, but that just lets you grow and learn how to deal with people you don’t necessarily get along with. :)

“Practice! Practice until you go crazy….then do it five more times.”

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