Two different teachers?!

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Jennifer said: Sep 23, 2010
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

So one of my students has just let slip that she has another teacher, who comes to her home. I discussed this with mom, who said it was because it was easier on her because she didn’t have to practice with her daughter as much (btw mom does not work….), that it’s helpful because her daughter gets to play whatever she wants- outside pieces, future pieces that have not yet been previewed :confused: , pieces for the examinations which we do not do….. Very frustrating! I should point out that this child is still in Book 1, and not yet even 5 years old.
I re-explained Suzuki philosophy and the method (despite frequent parent trainings), but mom just doesn’t seem to get it. At all. Anyone else have similar experience dealing with parents who seem unable to follow the rules?? What do you generally do?

Thanks!

-Jennifer

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

www.ViolinsAndChinrest.com

Irene said: Sep 24, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

seems to me, the mother is not willing to be a suzuki parent and is paying someone to do her share..
you pointed out that your student is taking exam somewhere else and is working on other violin piece? perhaps it is required in her school or she just need to get more certs . ? has she communicated with you, that she wishes to work on other pieces?

said: Sep 24, 2010
 24 posts

I’m not a teacher, but I’m a parent. Maybe practice time stresses the mom out? If there aren’t any other reasons behind this (like mentioned in the response above), maybe mom doesn’t feel like practice time is going well with her child. Perhaps she needs more confidence in her ability to have patience and guide her child at home.

I have an 8 year old son who has been taking lessons for almost three years, unfortunately, I felt very unsuccessful for at least the first year and a half. Then I realized that our wonderful instructor is there to “lead me to water…” and to truly improve as a Suzuki parent takes research, effort, and creativity. I read several books: The Suzuki Violinist, To Learn With Love, Nurtured by Love, Ability Development from Age Zero, and How Muscles Learn. These resources (especially The Suzuki Violinist and Nurtured by Love) really helped me understand and communicate better with my child and ease practice time. Maybe (if you haven’t already) you can suggest those resources for your parent. Attending the summer institute also further helped tremendously.

Listening to the CD all of the time helped too, we listen to the CD’s everywhere and have fun singing and dancing to the songs. This might make the very long journey in Book 1 more enjoyable for her daughter so she doesn’t need to supplement. Tweaking practice time really helped, found that I had to be very positive, EXTREMELY consistent, and encouraging every minute of practice time. In the beginning we skipped a lot of days because it felt like a “chore” for us both. We now practice for about an hour and a half seven days a week and practice time is quality time for us and I don’t only know that, I tell him that constantly.

If I “delegated” practice time to a tutor I would feel like all the enthusiasm would be drained out of this wonderful experience. Hopefully, with effort, your parent can learn to value this stage of development.

Lynn said: Sep 25, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Two possibilities:

  1. The Mom is has engaged a “practice coach” to work with her daughter during the week.

Bad idea. It may seem like a good idea to her, but the fact is that other person has no idea what the practice goals are for the week, how to practice towards them, what your expectation are, how you set up and develop playing technique, etc. for the simple reason that she was not present at the lesson. Words in an assignment book do not begin to capture what actually happened in a lesson. For this reason, I won’t even allow a situation where the “non-practicing parent” is the one who primarily attends lessons (I do, however, like to see them occasionally!) If the practice coach is not directly connected with you, your intentions and your methods, you can be sure she will introduce her own, to the detriment of the student.

Tell Mom that the adult who practices with the child must also be the one who attends lessons. This is not negotiable—regardless of whether she fully grasps the reasons. I think sometimes our efforts to be nice, understanding and supportive compromises the clarity of the message. This is a boundary! If she cannot, or is not willing to arrange for that to happen, then lessons with you cannot continue.

  1. This really is a second teacher.

Mom chooses, or you choose for her (i.e. dismiss the student). The universally accepted rule is one teacher at a time!

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 25, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Yes, exactly to what Lucy wrote!

Insist that the second teacher EITHER be dropped OR that the parent request that this second teacher also regularly attend the child’s lessons alongside the parent AND insist that the parent still attend lessons, AND insist that this other teacher not teach the child “ahead” of what you are teaching.

If the parent is not willing to arrange this, you should graciously pass this student along to the second teacher.

Learning to play an instrument is like a journey in a rowboat or a canoe… You have a time-tested plan for touring the area, and you are calling out commands for how everyone is to row the boat. You thought there were three people in this boat, but lo and behold, there is a fourth person who may or may not be following your directions, who may or may not be backpaddling or calling out different and possibly not complimentary directions of their own…. who has different ideas about which places to go first. If you don’t either corral this fourth person or abandon ship, you are going to be spending a lot of time giving and getting grief and confusion from this student and their family.

Sara said: Sep 25, 2010
 Violin
191 posts

If the Mom feels a need for a second teacher perhaps she feels that what you are assigning is not enough…? Or not fulfilling her goals….?
I think the biggest concern with this right now is the child. I can imagine it would be terribly frustrating and confusing to the student to have two sets of instructions on what to practice. I think if you explained this to the Mom and said for the sake of the student, she needs to choose one teacher. It also really is a disadvantage financially to be paying for two teachers, because she’s really not paying for more, she is paying for confusion in the student!

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

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