Length of study with one teacher

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I asked this question at another board, and thought I'd repeat it here to see what kind of responses I get. I've been doing a lot of thinking (something you're suppose to do in your 20's when you're in school). I've come to think that perhaps it would be beneficial for students to change teachers every so often. The thought of a student starting with one teacher at age 6 and continuing thru 12th grade with that same teacher makes me wonder if maybe they might be taking on the educational gaps and musical biases of that one teacher. Perhaps a change in teacher every 3 or so years would be beneficial. That way what one teacher lacks, another teacher could fill in. And the student would be exposed to different teaching styles/ learning styles, etc. I admire those teachers who do teach students all the way thru. That is a great accomplishment to guide someone all the way thru and to keep them enthusiastic about music, but since each person has different specialties (one teacher might be better at teaching beginners, one might be a specialist in intermediate rep or technique, one might really know how to deal with high schoolers, etc), maybe it would be healthier for a student to study with several different teachers. I get the feeling that when a student decides to switch teachers, often the teacher may feel like they let the student down, or like they are being rejected. But perhaps it is healthy to rotate students. What is everyone's reactions?

-- Julie2 (knerr@uiuc.edu), April 05, 2001



your thoughts are very interesting. i believe that there are few teachers who can teach everything to a student that the student needs to know. But those 'big' teachers are very rare and usually very expensive. I think your idea has some very good points. The average teacher who teaches beginners often has a lack in teaching very advanced students and other teachers who are good with advanced students might be wrong for beginners. Usually people change teachers after their high school gaduation because then as music majors they enter the college where they get a new teacher and new ideas anyway. I think students should change teacher whenever they really don't feel comfortable in the lesson. Often student and teacher don't match, then a change is important for the continuing musical education. But your idea has also some disadvantages, especially with beginners and intermediate students. If the student changes teacher every 2-3 years as you suggested, the student might get confused with what to believe and the teacher doesn't have a chance to build something up in the student, something that might take time. Whenever the student is grown up, s/he should be able to decide whether s/he wants to stay with a teacher or whether s/he wans to change for some new ideas or for a different approach of teaching.

-- Andy is his nickname (amb7078@griffon.mwsc.edu), April 08, 2001.

Andy, thanks for your answer. I actually think it might be beneficial for kids to switch (not every 2 years, but at least 3) even during the intermediate years. Even if a teacher is qualified to teach all levels well, I think a student might benefit from different approaches and different musical ideas.

-- Julie2 (knerr@uiuc.edu), April 09, 2001.

For what it's worth, I have two thoughts on this matter. First, I have a particularly outstanding teacher, and I have taken from her for 33 (yes, 33) years. She owns a studio and employs a number of teachers. She would be happy to let me take from one of her other teachers, but I've stuck with her because she is an outstanding motivator. She really knows how to get me to reach for music I would never try on my own. I think teachers are often "soft" on adult students for a variety of reasons - scheduling, the knowledge that they can pack up and go elsewhere, age, etc... My teacher simply doesn't let me get away with anything less than my best, and I've always been afraid another teacher wouldn't be able to push me as well. So, in my case, one teacher for a long time has worked well.

At our studio, children generally take both a group and a private lesson each week. This does allow for some variety in teachers - many students have a different teacher for group and private. It alsogives the teachers an opportunity to consult with one another, and if a student responds better to one teacher, they can adjust. I realize that this is not the norm, since many teachers work solo. But, I think the method has worked very well for many of the children who take at this studio. It does also mean that some students may stay with the same private teacher for years, while others will change if the teachers observe and feel like another teacher would better serve that student.

-- Susan W. (SWBrooks1@aol.com), April 09, 2001.

I think changing teachers is fine when there is a good reason. As a piano teacher, sometimes I find myself becoming tired of particular students. It is a warning that perhaps the student is feeling the same way. It is important to explore all the reasons for this lack of enthusiasm and proceed from there. Basicly I think 7 years with one teacher is enough.

-- marcia J yurko (mjyurko@hotmail.com), March 25, 2002.

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