Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Klarinet Archive - Posting 000175.txt from 2002/06

From: Jeremy A Schiffer <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 18:48:11 -0400

On Wed, 5 Jun 2002, Nancy Buckman wrote:

> The lesson here is that the teacher isn't always right and may not be the
> right teacher for the student. Imagine if I had quit just because a
> teacher was so short-sighted as to ruin my joy at making music.

This is an excellent point. In college, I was planning on being a music
major, so I had to take piano lessons in order to pass the piano
proficiency exam. The beginning piano teacher was terrible. She treated
all of her students the same, whether they came in with 10+ years of
musical experience (like myself) or whether this was their first
instrument. I don't remember the name of the books she used, but they
were written for adults with NO musical experience. We had a huge fight
when I took exception to her demands that I fill in the written exercises
on the page, which consisted of filling in simple rhythmic patterns like
two 8ths, two 4ths, two 8ths... and then having to clap them while
saying the beats.... Since I was taking 5 day a week music theory course
at the same time, I felt that this was a waste of my time and money. I
only had 1/2 hour a week with her, and I wasn't willing to spend 1/3 of
my time there doing things I had mastered in elementary school (it's not
like I was trying to figure out the rhythms to a Chopin sonata, where
exercises like that can benefit a professional musician - this was basic,
basic stuff). I asked to play more music/scales/etc. instead of doing that
crap (I asked her nicely, I didn't use the word crap...), and she never
forgave me for challenging her authority, calling me just another
arrogant, spoiled brat who refused to do any work (this was at a top tier
liberal arts college).

I ended up changing majors at the end of that year (music is widely
considered the most difficult major in the college (it's a theory
department, not a conservatory) - and this is a place most known for their
physics and chemistry departments - and was never happier to give up piano
lessons. How sad, I think now, considering how much I'd like to be able to
sit down at a piano and do something other than 5-finger scales.

The point is, some teachers have no right to be teaching. If you can't
modify your method to your students, but have to pigeon-hole everyone
into your tried-and-true methods, you should find a new career.
Understanding the needs of each student should be of paramount concern to
a good teacher, rather than an afterthought in an assembly line-esque

Wow. I guess I really needed to rant. I didn't mean to write that much.

-Jeremy Schiffer
1st Clarinet, Columbia Wind Ensemble
Clarinet, Columbia Klezmer Band
mp3's at

Jeremy A. Schiffer
AcIS Security Administrator
Columbia University
AcIS Nextel *75

Please direct all computer security related queries to


     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact