17 February, 2012

A Good Performer Doesn't Equals To A Good Teacher

I was picking Jayden up from school as usual and met the 姑姑 of YY.

YY has been Jay's classmate since Day 1. They actually started out at Zee Junior together. They went through the tough transition period from Zee Junior's original management team to Cherie Heart's managment taking over the school. Initially YY's father didn't had much confidence in the Cheri Heart mangement team and instigated us to pull Jayden out together with YY. We didn't want to and decided to give the new management team a chance. In the end YY stayed on and they were happy with the performance of the new team, the new teachers and the progress the YY made. Until recently.

Anyway to cut the story short, I met the 姑姑 at the school gate and we made small talk. And the 姑姑 said he heard Jayden is learning the violin. So I gave her a quick recap on how and where Jayden started on his violin lessons, so on and so forth. And also from where and who Jayden is now taking his lessons from.

"Oh is his violin teacher from SSO?" asked YY's 姑姑.

"No he's not." I said.

"Oh..." said YY's 姑姑.

I wanted to say more but out came the kids together, all set to run out from the school and set off to home. I gave the 姑姑 a smile and left together with my very chatty son.

Does it matter to me if the teacher is not from SSO?

No. As I have come to understand that a good music performer does not mean he/she's a good teacher. But of course, a music teacher has to be good with the music instrument that he/she's teacher or else he/she will not be able to inspire the students.

Take my previous experience with my ex-teacher as a lesson. By the way, I fired my teacher. Finally. Haha! He's a wonderful violinist, performs with so much passion and fire that he almost jumped off his seat! He played the violin with much intensity that my friend said she's got goosebumps on her arm when watching him perform with his quartet. By the way, he's the first violinist. And his list of credential goes on and on. Mind you, he is not a Diploma holder but has 1st class honours in Music Performance warded by NAFA.

Impressive eh? But if you ask me, is he a good teacher. I would say no. He was impatient, pushy and lack of interpersonal skills. He would yelled at me when I play a note wrongly more than twice and make sarcastic remarks when I couldn't memorise my key signatures fast enough. The only time we could talk amicably is via sms. Everytime I try to talk to him face to face, he would avoid eye contact with me and brush my questions aside. So what's good of a fantastic performer when he can't even hold a decent conversation with his student?

So next time, don't come to the conclusion that great performers are good teachers. Some music teachers, even though don't belong to famous quartets, SSO.. etc etc etc. can be as good, or even better.


Hmmm... maybe should classify it more as different teachers are suitable for different types of students. My elder boy has been learning from a SSO player for the past 5yrs. It was a little scary at first bc the teacher demanded high standards - very fine intonation and worked on the pieces in great detail. My boy managed, and now that he's 15yo, actually enjoys the lessons with this teacher very much bc of the discussions and appreciates the details they go through and the techniques he's taught.

I would say that this particular teacher would not be suitable for the very young. I don't think this teacher would have the patience either, although he's mellowed lots over the years too. So I send my 3yo to another teacher.

True to what you said. I'm probably too harsh with my opinions and was a little angry when I type the post.

I believe there must be mutual understanding, affinity and chemistry in order for the teacher-student relationship to work and for the student to shine under the teacher's guidance.

I'm glad your son is enjoying his lessons with his SSO teacher. And I'm glad that his teacher has mellow down! I sure do understand how a student would feel when the teacher constantly harps on imperfect intonations, wrong bowings blah blah blah! It could really kill one's interest in learning the instrument!

My elder boy was 10yo then and understood that his teacher was strict with him bc he(the teacher) believed he could advance appropriately. IF, this teacher did not think he could do it, he would actually not bother to have those expectations.

Yeah, mellowed as he became a family man. ;D

One reason why I changed him to this teacher was because I'd observed that he was very good at grasping the students strengths/weaknesses and harnessing them. Strategising, that is. So the student would advance quickly based on that. My elder boy started learning at quite a late age, so this approach was suitable for him.

Agree with Karmeleon that different teachers suits different students. At different age, and stage of development, a student needs a different type of teacher.

Jayden's mom,

hello :) I came across your blog recently. Like your boy, my oldest boy started to play the violin young when he was barely 3 years old. Its been about 4 years now. Its been an exciting journey for both him and me so far.

My youngest boy (just turned 3) also started on suzuki violin...

jayjay mom,

I realised your boy is learning violin at mandeville too :) My oldest also started at mandeville's baby suzuki violin with Ms Yap and later on Ms Sylvia Khoo. He had a 1-1 class teacher there too. He's no longer there now but my 3 year old is in Ms Sylvia Khoo's suzuki class now :) Their bb suzuki violin class are not bad :)