Harp Teacher

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    My daughter is 8 and has been playing the harp for about 9 months – I don’t feel she has made much progress.


    At the risk of provoking flames, there are some things jumping out at me right away. No teacher should be getting up to answer the phone in the middle of a lesson unless there are unusual circumstances, which they should explain. And they should never short-change you on your lesson time. If something arises to make this necessary, then that time should be made up. As for rhythm-training, I believe this to be essential. It is hard enough for a young person to acclimatize to ensemble work, without having to learn to count on the spot! I agree also that it is counter-productive to try to learn too many new pieces all at once. It is much better to learn a lot of technique at the beginning, with a couple of pieces to make it fun. On top of that, no teacher should be bad-mouthing colleagues or former students or complaining about things. You are not paying him so that he can sound off. Can you imagine going back to a hairdresser who did that? If you wish to continue your association with him, it would be a good idea to talk to him about these things. If you can find a more professional teacher, that would be preferable. After nine months, there should be noticeable progress.


    The first thing that struck me is the bad mouthing of former students.
    I have a young student who transferred from a teacher who did this same
    thing. It is very threatening to a student because there is always the
    underlying assumption that if they bad mouth someone else, they are
    going to bad mouth me
    too. I
    would transfer, and definitely don’t let fear be a reason to stay.
    Sooner is better than later, since years of interaction will produce a
    deeper, more complicated relationship. Teachers can inflict much more
    emotional damage than they realize. When a teacher is free of emotional
    negativity, concerns about rhythm instruction and such can be addressed
    more openly and corrected. You could discuss it with him, but if he is
    offended by leaf blowers he could be
    much moreso towards perceived criticism. I would write him a nice card,
    get a little gift, and mention something positive about him and explain
    that she will need to quit lessons for now for personal reasons. Then
    look for another teacher.


    Get a new teacher!


    Have you asked your daughter how she feels about this? Of course she should not have the final say, and you shouldn’t set a precedent that she makes all of the decisions all of the time, but she might have a compelling reason to stay with the teacher, or enough to say to stay with him. Otherwise, I would say just ditch him and find someone more appropriate for your child to study with.


    I think Carl said everything that needs to be said.


    Ditto to Carl! The sooner the better!


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