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Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice. - Yoda

Work Together, We CanFor the first post of the year (can you believe the calendar reads 2015?!), I want take a few minutes to reflect on my values as a teacher and guide.  It is important for me to provide my students with solid notions about violin playing and music in general, to instill in them the desire to apply and deepen that knowledge outside of the studio, and to hopefully reach them on a personal level and help them develop solid human values.

A professor once told me that music was a big thing.  “A very, very, big thing,” he said.  Indeed it is.  Teaching a musical instrument is both an honor and a great responsibility, as music is a very broad and complex subject, involving great amounts of logic, technical skills, and sensibility.  In addition to this, the relationship between a teacher and his/her pupil is one which must involve great trust and one that can profoundly affect the life of both members of this artistic team.  Here is my take on it.

I believe in a student-centered approach to learning

Every student has his/her own personality and needs to be guided in accordance with the way he/she learns.  It is important for me to spend time finding out what approach and strategies best fit each student, and to try to ignite in them a real enthusiasm for the practice of violin.

I believe in having high expectations and being supportive

Studying a musical instrument requires careful attention during lessons, quality practice outside of lessons, and constant self-discipline.  Students are making a commitment to learning as I am making a commitment to teaching.  I want to help my students learn the tools they will need to have an efficient and productive practice, and develop their critical thinking.  It is a great joy for me to see dedicated students and I aim to provide support and guidance every step of the way. 

I believe in setting goals and implementing steps to reach them

Establishing goals and methodically planning on how to reach them is one of the greatest lessons that can be learned from practicing a musical instrument.  Be it a personal goal (fixing a technical problem, learning a difficult piece, mastering a new skill, etc.) or an exterior goal (preparation for jury, competition, recital, etc.), having a carefully crafted plan and executing it well can help a student push his/her limits and take great strides forward. 

I believe that patience is the fastest road to success

There are no shortcuts to mastery and the process must be followed.  Consistency and true understanding will always trump cramming and thoughtless memorization.  Self-discipline and dedication ensure that the information is absorbed and understood fully.  It is important for me to emphasize this concept to students, as I believe that it is true not only in their musical endeavors, but also in every aspect of their lives.

I believe in using the right material         

The choice of material to be utilized is crucial.  The technical regimen, etudes, and repertoire chosen should be tailored to the student.  It should make it possible for the student to grasp the information easily but still be challenging enough to put him/her in a state of gradual and consistent evolution. 

John Steinbeck said: “Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”  As both an artist and a teacher, I aim to constantly continue learning and growing, and I hope that I can provide my students with something of value.

I send out my best wishes for a wonderful year 2015!

(Next time: Search, and you shall find)

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