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 Lesson teachers
Author: Justin 
Date:   1999-08-22 01:27

Hello,
I was wondering if you guys could share your stories about your experience with lesson teachers. last week I was really, really critisized by a very accomplished clarinetist. I took it as a personal insult because he picked apart every aspect of my playing and said I had no hope of accomplishing my dream of becoming a professsional. Now I just want to give up. Am I taking this too personally? Please write back as I am very depressed about this.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Clare 
Date:   1999-08-22 02:01

Nothing is worse than extreme criticism from a professional clarinetist. I don't think you're taking it too personally. That guy/girl was obviously incredibly cruel. There's a huge difference between constructive criticism and totally bashing someone's playing. My band teacher said I couldn't be a professional because it takes a lot of work and she doesn't think I can do it. It's times like that when you have to say "Screw you!" So cheer up and find an encouraging teacher.
-Clare
http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Taping/1448/index.html

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-08-22 02:05

Justin,
I've attended several master classes given by highly respected clarinetists (as a spectator) - Larry Combs, J. Lawrie Bloom, Richard Hawkins, Eddie Daniels, Robert Spring, Tom Martin, and a few more. In <b>no</b> case did they belittle the players; rather, they made suggestions in a polite manner, told the players where they consider the players good, and constructively criticized other aspects of the playing.

I do know of several very highly regarded teachers that have had their students in tears (the students have told me of this personally - the teachers all currently hold teaching positions at highly regarded universities and conservatories); if that happens, either adjust to the teacher's manner, or switch teachers if you feel you can't put up with this.

I can't give names - the stories were given to me in confidence.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Sara 
Date:   1999-08-22 02:56

I've only been taking lessons for about 5-6 months so I'm not too sure you should listen to me. But, well my teacher does do a lot criticizing at some points, but its all constructive criticism nothing more. But to someone who was harsh and was obviously not the nicest person in the world, I'd go with Clare and say screw you and find another teacher that you like. As for the constructive criticizum, I got used to that a long time ago, Iguess its just part of getting better. Good luck! PS: Don't quit just because someone else thinks you suck! Hey tha's their problem!
Sara :)

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-22 03:41

People who do this have no business being teachers. Yes it is their duty to point out things that need corrected but it is not appropriate to put down a student or their goals and ambitions. It is not possible to tell with certainty who can or cannot go on to be a professional. History is full of people who were told they couldn't be this or that yet become some of the greatest of all time.

Franco Corelli was one of the great opera singers of the middle of this century. One of his teachers is reported to have told him to give it up, that he'd never amount to anything. Another opera singer who was considered one of the greats in her own day was Magda Olivero. One of her teachers told her she was hopeless.

I have personally taught martial arts. Some of the most promising students end up fading away while the kid that trips over his own feet goes on to be a national champion.

It is a teacher's responsibility to work to bring out the best in each and every student no matter what they think the person's potential may be.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Robert Small 
Date:   1999-08-22 07:50

Justin--the player who told you that you wouldn't make it to the proffessional ranks sounds like a bit of a sadist to me. I would take any advice from such a person with a grain of salt.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dave Goss 
Date:   1999-08-22 13:04

Good point Mark, but if you are at a small school there might only be one private lesson teacher which makes things difficult as well. The same thing goes for secondary schools.

Teaching is not easy and not for everyone, especially music education. It takes talent and skill to be able to tell someone they are playing something wrong without telling them "You are wrong" or saying worse than that.

Justin, if you are stuck with that teacher see if you can talk to him/her. Don't directly address the issue, he/she might get defensive. Just say that you've been having some problems understanding what he/she wants you to do. This could backfire though so be careful. Good luck and don't give up!

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-08-22 13:51

Dave Goss wrote:
-------------------------------
Good point Mark, but if you are at a small school there might only be one private lesson teacher which makes things difficult as well. The same thing goes for secondary schools.
------
Where I am (and in much of the US) there are no lessons at school - private lessons are something that the family pays for outside of school.

As a personal aside:
Life's too short to put up with this sort of thing. My father was a very good salesman for Burroughs Corp., so he kept getting promoted through the ranks. He ended up being the manager of the East coast region. But, he hated being a manager - he loved sales. To make a long story short, it literally ate him up inside. He ended up with very high and uncontrollable blood pressure, and he died 31 years ago. I was 14 at the time, and swore that I would never work at anything I didn't enjoy, even if it meant foregoing more money.

I then discovered (more or less by accident) as I grew older that I became good at the things I enjoyed, and money wasn't the problem I thought it would be. I've changed careers a few times in my life when I've become bored, and each time I've done well.

My attitude of "life's too short" also has helped me in the political side of business; I speak my mind, and let the chips fall where they may. Since I'm wasn't interested in promotions, I didn't worry about the effect on my career. To my surprise, the upper management at a few major companies I've worked at valued my judgement & fervor, and I ended up in the positions I wanted - in spite of myself :^)

I've spent the last 10 years or so as a computer systems consultant, where companies pay handsomely for ideas that the "in-house" people may have but are too timid to bring forward. Indeed, many times the ideas I present publically to upper management and boardrooms are the "in-house" ideas. When I ask the people if they want to co-present with me or co-author - most demur. They'd rather I take the "slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune" alone.

Enough about me. Don't let this incident fester inside and keep you from following through on your dream. Find another teacher somewhere. Life's too short!

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Jim Carabetta 
Date:   1999-08-22 17:36

Justin:

You have your whole life in which to prove you can become a professial clarinetist; that clarinetist has just proven he can never, ever become a teacher.

You've just had your first professional lesson: how NOT to be.

Good luck, my friend. And now go practice.


Aside to Mark: I was a salesman for Burrough's in the early 70's, in their Business Forms division, in the Hartford, CT office. Spend many a cold, miserable weekend at the plant in Rochester, NY.



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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-08-22 17:40

Jim Carabetta wrote:
-------------------------------
Aside to Mark: I was a salesman for Burrough's in the early 70's, in their Business Forms division, in the Hartford, CT office. Spend many a cold, miserable weekend at the plant in Rochester, NY.
-------
My father worked out of the Buffalo, NY office - in the Business Forms (Todd) Division. His boss was Neil Culhane. Ring any bells?

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Jeff 
Date:   1999-08-22 22:10

I can't say that I have ever been criticized, but I have been told to do lots of different things than what I do. For instance, I hold my clarinet wrong. My top hand is not in the "C" shape that it is supposed to be. Instead, my fingers just go straight across. This teacher told me that I need to work on changing that, but I have never had a teacher criticize me. I have had other band members (who are better than me) treat me like I had no idea what I was doing, but I really can't say that a teacher has done this to me.


Jeff

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Tim2 
Date:   1999-08-23 00:16

Their right, Justin. It is time to find another teacher. Don't let it diminish your self esteem. You know the work you've done so far. Time for the "second opinion". Forge ahead with what you want. Best to you.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Rick2 
Date:   1999-08-23 05:18

Once you do find your new teacher, do think back at what this guy said. There must be some valid points in his rant. Use it as an opportunity to grow stronger by fixing the problems that were pointed out to you. Look forward to the day he attends one of your concerts as first chair clarinetist for the xxxx symphony, he will remember the day he lost you as a student.

Seriously, if I many use an analogy from baseball, there are countless players who were written off by a number of tesms but they run into the right coach in the right organization and become superstars. Bo Jackson was release by Kansas City after he broke his hip. He came back to play in the majors with Chicago after hip replacement surgery. First time it was ever done. Desire is more important than ability.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dannene 
Date:   1999-08-23 15:48

I've had some teachers (who shall remain nameless) who have made me completely break out in tears in lessons as well. Some teachers are very hard on students because they are trying to push them to be better players. It's always possible that this is the case. I don't personally believe that this method of teaching is always the best for a student, but certain personalities thrive on this and it pushes them to practice more or be better. I'm one of those personalities. It really helped me at times! I've only really had one student that I thought could benefit from this kind of teaching (Miranda, if you're reading this, this is you!! :) ) but for the most part, it doesn't work. I hope your teacher is reading these responses and adjusts their teaching style! it can be very damaging.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-23 17:26

I have had only one person as a personal tutor. I started as an adult novice, knowing a lot of what to do wrong and getting very few things right the first time. My tutor gradually steered me away from the technically incorrect to the correct, but he was so subtle that I didn't realize that he had turned most of my bad habits off by about 6 months or so. He had been giving private lessons to youngsters and adults alike for decades and it showed.

Here is an extreme example of how good a teacher he is. He was a Marine at Guadalcanal in WWII ("The Thin Red Line" movie should give you a hint that this wasn't just another walk in the park). Yet, he teaches Japanese students who don't understand English with as much gentleness and smoothness as everyone else, even though he doesn't understand Japanese. That's what I call a very flexible and forgiving instructor.

Also, keep in mind that it's your money that you are using to pay for a service. If you are not getting the service to your satisfaction, take your money somewhere else.


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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: steve 
Date:   1999-08-23 21:34

this may be a devil's advocate response....my clarinet teachers were all superhuman educators who taught me over 20 years just as much about life as clarinet, but I am self taught (beginning in my early 20's) as a guitarist and banjoist....I found that snide, hurtful, criticizing "advice" from players more skillful than me were just as useful as those from folks who wanted to share their knowledge and friendship with a beginner...I just ignored the buzz saw crap of their personalities, ignored their insults, stole their licks, knowledge, and techniques, discarded their bad habbits and limitations, applied my musicianship assimilated from my clarinet instructors and band/orchestra directors, and, in a few years, started getting their gigs...its great to have good teachers....there is no greater gift, except possibly the subject material they profess...and I was willing to endure anything to learn music...

s.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-08-23 22:47

steve wrote:
-------------------------------
this may be a devil's advocate response ...
-------
Not in my book, anyway. As long as you took it the way you did - that's great. However, for those that dislike the approch of the "insulting" style of teacher to the point of emotional disturbance - leave!

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-24 00:02



Mark Charette wrote:
-------------------------------
steve wrote:
-------------------------------
this may be a devil's advocate response ...
-------
Not in my book, anyway. As long as you took it the way you did - that's great. However, for those that dislike the approch of the "insulting" style of teacher to the point of emotional disturbance - leave!

-------------------------------

I agree with Mark. Not everyone is able to shrug it off. My daughter's clarinet teacher was a fabulous player but at the time I knew her, she had little confidence in her own ability. This was 20 years after she had experience such "putdown" type of teacher in her college career. She was principal clarinet in the community band to which I belonged at the time. We had a new player come in who had secured a position as a teacher of clarinet at a nearby college. She ceded her position to him without even considering that she might be the better person to be the principal. There was only one thing the new fellow could do better than she did. He could play marginally faster. On the other hand, he was very poor at following the conductor's tempo. He couldn't keep a steady tempo if his life depended on it. If one of the section members got lost, was a little out of tune, or squeaked or whatever, he immediately lost his concentration and couldn't keep his place in the music. His playing was flashy and showy but he did not have what it took to be a section leader (IMHO).

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: mommaq 
Date:   1999-08-24 02:12

Justin:
Life is too short to hang around with folks that call you a loser.

Do you take lessons during the school day or after school, where it might be possible for someone else to acompany you into the room and, nonchalantly sit down with magazine or book in hand and 'wait' for your lesson to end? This is your 'spy' who might give you the courage to ask your teacher some questions that have been eating at you...or for you to have some 'ammo' against the severe way this particular professional is treating you. He/she could be your sounding board...is the problem you or is it the professional?

Just some thoughts......
mommaq

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: David Blumberg 
Date:   1999-08-24 04:14

It is possible for a teacher to make an evaluation of your skill set at a glance, but that is not to say that you will not improve greatly with a lot of work, and top instruction. And it should certainly be done gently!!!!!
A favorite story was of the Sax great David Sanborn - as a 5th grader he started playing Sax at the request of his Doctor (he had Polio as a child) to make him stronger. His 5th grade band director told him to give it up, as he was not any good - well, he grew up to become David Sanborn.
Ya never really know for sure, just be sure to have a good backup plan. There are too many herds of students going down the path of performance, and not getting a job - there is no "work study. Are you that 1% - maybe, maybe not....

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Justin 
Date:   1999-08-25 04:42

Thanks for the response and advice. I really considered myself an accomplished clarinet player before I took lessons with this instructor. The sad part is, she may be right. She is a very accomplished player and I take her advice as being very valuable. I simply cannot become a professional if she says I have little chance of it. Her advice is great, it's just that she comes across as arrogant and cocky. I have improved a lot from her lessons. My question is: is it worth the stress?

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-25 11:34



Justin wrote:
-------------------------------
... The sad part is, she may be right. She is a very accomplished player and I take her advice as being very valuable. I simply cannot become a professional if she says I have little chance of it. Her advice is great, it's just that she comes across as arrogant and cocky. I have improved a lot from her lessons. My question is: is it worth the stress?
-------------------------------

No matter how great a player she may be, she cannot know if you can become a professional. In a few years, who knows how much better you can be (maybe even playing rings around her). Whether it is worth the stress, you alone are the only one who can answer that. Whether you pursue your dream or not, I think a different teacher is called for.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: steve 
Date:   1999-08-25 19:53

there has been alot of comment about ...can i become a professional....the answer is no one knows....raw talent and development of this talent to the max helps, but is not the end all or be all....the required personality to do anything professionally (flexibility, ability to be a team or independent player as required, dedication to one's craft, demand for highest standards under all circumstances) helps, but isn't enough...good health and physical prowess (tounging at mm=240 at age 70) is nice to have, but....luck and being in the right place at the right time is good....support from loved ones is very important....

if all of these things are present and converging on you, can you be a professional?...maybe...if you're lacking in any area, will it kill your chances....don't know...

concentrate more on being the best musician you can and always improving....see wher the chips fall, and get on with your life when they suggest the next move...

s.

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 RE: Lesson teachers - have a backup plan
Author: David B. 
Date:   1999-08-26 03:28

Have a back-up plan, you may need it. Very few make it - many, many, many try.
Part of responsible teaching at a higher level should be painting a picture of reality to students.

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Keil 
Date:   1999-08-28 20:39

I love my private teacher, he is awesome and he is really encouraging, i wouldn't give up but i would take some of the things he said to heart. I did have a bad experience with my sax teacher though but other than that, i just take the advice and keep on truckin' can't get to bent out of shape, after all they're pro's and you have to expect to get some kind of criticsm. Better to know now than when you get in an audition room!

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 RE: Lesson teachers
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-28 21:50



Keil wrote:
-------------------------------
...you have to expect to get some kind of criticsm.
-------------------------------

Constructive criticism offered in a professional manner - Yes

Tearing down the student - NO, NO, NO

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