Teaching Beyond My Own Fluency?

said: May 16, 2006
 26 posts

My mother was a Suzuki violin teacher & performer for many many years. I started on violin but transitioned to cello early on, and now I am a professional cellist & cello teacher. My studio is NOWHERE near full and I have been looking for things to do.

Today a local violin teacher asked if I would consider taking her students. She would like to leave teaching for health and family reasons. She believes that my violin technique is much more solid than that of many of the other local violin teachers, and that those who are better have full studios or charge more than these students can pay.

I would like to hear your take on the ethical issues involved in teaching an instrument I technically don’t know how to play! It is true that I know the proper technique and can communicate it, but I am not a fluent player of the instrument.

Other than the potential professional mar of teaching an instrument that isn’t really my own, might there be anything else wrong with taking these students (at a much lower rate than I take for cello of course) with the understanding that I may drop or transfer them at any time if they are becoming too advanced for me or if I am offered additional work in my areas of expertise?

Melissa said: May 16, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

This is an interesting question.
I think that you really need to reflect on how well you can develop a violin student with what you know. If you feel you can, lets say, teach through Book 3, confidently and will be a good teacher for students through this level of playing, you then should feel okay with doing this. But only through Book 3 and then have them take with a more experienced teacher. If it is through Book 1, the same applies.
This is how I would approach it.
I would not charge less though for teaching the violin compared to cello. If you do this it tells me you are not competent as a violin teacher and therefore should not attempt to teach this instrument.
Just my thoughts, hope this helps.

Kirsten said: May 17, 2006
103 posts

Would you be willing to charge these students your full rate, and then spend some of the money you are making to take and observe violin lessons yourself (ideally from a Suzuki violin teacher)?

This might be a good opportunity for you to expand your skills and improve your future prospects. I think it is ethical to take these students if you are willing to invest time (and probably money) to improve your ability. If you happen to have the time now, it would probably be a good investment.


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