Lessons

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

  • Participant
    Meghan Smith on #253949

    What is a graceful way to end harp lessons with a teacher you have studied with for many years? I just want to part on good terms. Thank you.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #253960

    So sorry you are in such an awkward situation. The harp community is so small that perhaps just being honest and saying you need a fresh approach might be best for both of you. Tell her you are feeling stuck and the problem is you, not her. Let your teacher friend know you appreciate her friendship and time she has spent on your lessons. You are not clear as to who is renting you the harp. If it is your current teacher, be prepared to return the harp immediately after stopping lessons.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #253961

    Since there is a lot of information missing here, it’s hard to advise on the best course of action. Do you have a new teacher in mind? Have you ever taken lessons from anyone other than your current teacher? You might start by taking some lessons with a new teacher before cutting the cord with the old one, just to see if it is a good fit, and if that is the problem. If it is, and you are really happy with the new teacher, then you are going to need to have an honest conversation with the old teacher. Don’t say that you are unhappy with her. Tell her she has been a great teacher for you, but after so many years you need to change the whole environment to get a different perspective on the harp and your own playing. If your current teacher is really a friend as well as a decent teacher, she should understand your position and give you her blessing.

    Participant
    Meghan Smith on #253962

    Thank you for the kind responses. I really appreciate it. Over the 10 years I have taken periods of time off from lessons. Last year I did study with a different teacher for a few months and I made exceptional progress.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Meghan Smith.
    Participant
    Meghan Smith on #253963

    I really like how you worded that, Carl. “That I need a different perspective on the harp.” Thank you. You and Gretchen are right. If she’s a good friend, she’ll understand. Thank you.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Meghan Smith.
    Participant
    carl-swanson on #253967

    Meghan- Some more ammunition for your conversation with your old teacher. Tell her that virtually all of the professional harpists you know have studied with several teachers over the course of their studies. They didn’t change teachers because any were bad. They just needed to see several different approaches to the harp. I had 4 teachers over the course of my studies. They all had something important to teach me. They all had strong points and not so strong points. I don’t regret studying with any of them. Remind your old teacher too that you have strong and not so strong points too, and that having a different teacher might open up your perspective on the harp.

    I remember having a conversation with Marie-Claire Jamet, who taught at the Paris Conservatory years ago. She told me, while smiling, that each year she invited an important harpist to come teach her students for a week. One year it was Suzanne McDonald. Suzanne taught while Marie-Claire sat and watched. “She told the students the same things I had been telling them” Marie-Claire said. “When I told them, most of the time they didn’t listen. But when she told them, they paid attention and did it!”

    Participant
    Meghan Smith on #253969

    I’m very grateful for your kind response, Carl. Thank you so much. I think you can tell that I’m trying to be very careful how I approach my conversation with my friend. These sorts of things can be challenging, but I like how simply and beautifully you put it. Excellent advice. Thank you for your encouragement and support. I feel much better about having this conversation with her now.

    Participant
    predestinedbeforetime@yahoo.com on #253971

    Ah yes, this is tricky. I dealt with this in the past. I agree with the ” needing some more perspective on the harp ”
    For me it was partly that my older teacher couldn’t demonstrate much for me due to age, so I did pass that on to her, that for me particularly, as a visual learner, I needed demonstration. I still kept up a relationship with her ( come over and show her rep I was working on or chat over coffee ). She gave me some great help, but we many times need the perspective of more than one.

    Participant
    Philippa mcauliffe on #253999

    A good teacher will encourage you to move on
    themselves. One of the finest in the world once told me that she feels 10 years is her maximum – and that is for people who start as beginners that she would expect to take to a very advanced or professional standard in that period. She thinks if she has not imparted everything she can by then either she has a problem or they do but either way someone else should have a go! She too encourages and likes to watch other people teach her pupils as Carl described. Even people who come from absolutely identical pedagogy backgrounds (same teacher/s) can have some different ways of both teaching and doing things I have found. I would be very surprised if she was offended.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #254000

    Something else that I have found is that very often different teachers are good at different things. There are teachers who are excellent at starting beginners, but once the student is beyond the beginner stage, the same teacher really has no idea how to advance them. Another teacher might be good at polishing a very advanced student, but isn’t really good at getting a lower level student up to that level, or working out technical problems. Sam Milligan once told me, about a very well known teacher in the U.S.: “She has no idea how to teach technique. If you go to her school with an excellent technique and study with her for 4 years, you’ll graduate with lots of repertoire and an excellent technique. If you go to her with a bad technique and study with her for 4 years, you’ll graduate with lots of repertoire and a bad technique.”

    Participant
    Philippa mcauliffe on #254005

    That is very true. I can only think of a couple of teachers who are excellent at all levels from the first lesson to postgraduate. They actually appear to enjoy doing the full range too which is equally
    unusual.

    Participant
    Meghan Smith on #254042

    What you have all shared here is very insightful and encouraging. It’s helpful to know that it’s a very good and healthy thing to have more than one teacher over the course of one’s harp study. What you shared about how each teacher has a different specialty/skill set is also very helpful. I never really realized that before. Excellent insight. Thank you.

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