I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.

A new teacher

Not totally new, as I haven’t fired Danielle or anything, but there are a couple of problems with having Danielle as a sole instructor:

1.  Danielle is BUSY.  And this is her normal life.  When something big comes up, like soloing with New West Symphony for a triple play of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday up in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, and Santa Monica, it’s insane.  As of right now, I can’t even remember the last time we’ve had a lesson.  This of course doesn’t mean that I don’t practice.  I also can’t remember the last day I didn’t practice, but without her guidance, I feel a little bit like I’m floating.  It’s remarkable how a little direction tightens things up and makes me sound so much better.

As for Danielle, things aren’t letting up anytime soon.  She has a benefit concert for her summer camp coming up this Sunday Feb 5th and her recital is coming up later in the month on the 26th.  After February, things should slow down a little, but that’s life in the fast lane.

2.  Reason number two has to do with the problem I always keep mentioning throughout this blog and is characterized by what several different people said this past weekend.  Danielle soloed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I proudly attended them all.  During each concert, people fall madly in love with Danielle and afterwards, want nothing more than to shower her with love and affection.  Unfortunately, a thousand other people who just attended the concert will also have that same idea, so sometimes it’s impossible to give each adoring fan his or her proper attention.  So standing 15 feet away from Danielle is this tall, slightly awkward red head who, when concertgoers find out is the husband of the immortal vision they just witnessed on stage moments before, they also tend to flock to.  It was funny; I was almost holding court with my own fans as they asked about Danielle, what I did, if I was a musician, etc.  When asked the musician question, I would talk about the blog and they would ask who my teacher was.

“Why, Danielle teaches me, of course.”

“And you’re still married???”

There is a whole lot of truth to that.  We haven’t managed to kill each other yet during a lesson, but it remains impossible for me not to push back to some degree and sabotage my own learning.  I have gotten better at swallowing my pride, but by no means am I perfect during learning time.

3.  Gosh, those first 2 reasons took so long, do I even need a third?  Let’s see, perhaps it’s nice to have another perspective?  That could work.  The truth is, there are probably a hundred good reasons I should have another teacher (but still keep Danielle as my primary teacher).

So who is this masked violin pedagogue?  I leave it shrouded in mystery for now, but will say that it is one of Mr. Lipsett’s students.

To be continued…

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7 Comments on “A new teacher”

  1. Mary says:

    I admire you both for trying to do the spouse-as-teacher thing. It does not go well in my house. There’s too much emotional attachment to be objective as either teacher or student – the teacher expects so much more and the student (usually me) resents the extra pressure. You two have done remarkably well working together – an inspiration 🙂

    • rrvaughn says:

      Hi Mary. Are you both more advanced musicians? I have friends who are getting married and they’re both professional horn players. Giving friendly constructive criticism is OFF LIMITS on either end. With Danielle and I, there is absolutely no question of who should be listening to who, so the biggest problem with us is for me to just shut up and listen. Well, she could be a little nicer sometimes too 🙂

      • Mary says:

        Neither of us could be called advanced musicians, but he thinks he is 🙂 He has very definite ideas about how a fiddle should sound, but doesn’t realize that the sounds he appreciates the most are not likely to come from a beginner.

        I was speaking more of spouses teaching each other *anything* – it just doesn’t tend to go well. He is trying to teach me about boat building and sailing, but he is so far from my beginning level that he can’t even use language that I understand without thinking about it. “Head up”? WTF? And if I don’t respond immediately, well, the boat could heel over and dump us both into the river, but I have no way of knowing that. And the panicked shouting doesn’t help, either 🙂

      • rrvaughn says:

        When I read your post I thought of my dad trying to teach my mom anything. Computers, financial stuff, whatever, patience=0, yelling=maximum. Of course, my dad has no problem teaching my mom’s sweet little 90 year old friend about computers in a civilized manner. Homework help growing up wasn’t much fun either 🙂

      • Mary says:

        Exactly! There’s just something about teaching a spouse that adds to the difficulty on both sides.

  2. JRV says:

    Good writing — 🙂


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