Lack of respect issue
November 9, 2012 at 11:28 am #15200
I am a horn player, but I am teaching band and orchestra. I do have a strings coach that comes in to work with the string players 3 days per week. The other two days, I have full orchestra. I am getting some definite show of lack of respect from the string players. I was working with the violins yesterday about an upbeat eighth note where they need to use the full bow (up bow) in order to get to a long slur with a down bow. Of course, the note is too loud for the passage. I was talking about using less pressure to keep the volume correct and my 1st cellist made a snarky remark about it being the first time I ever said anything about technique to the string players. It isn’t true, of course. However, this has been a common complaint. It originally started with a private violin instructor who was unhappy that I was hired in the first place. She thought only a string player could be a good orchestra teacher and this well-respected private teacher made a LOT of noise about my perceived lack of qualification.
Is there any way to change perception? What ways might you recommend? I feel completely comfortable doing my job and understanding what middle school and high school string players need. I’ve taken 4 years of private violin and have played with some adult ensembles.
Or… is this something I just have to wait out. This is my sixth year.November 10, 2012 at 8:47 am #15233
I’d keep in mind that some students are just like that in MS/HS. You may also be quite sensitive to questions around your string expertise. It could be a good plan, and good teaching, to turn this sort of thing around by stating what you hear: “That eighth note pick-up sounds too loud”, and then asking for possible solutions. A lighter long bow isn’t the only way to address the problem you describe, depending on context. The notes before the pick-up might allow “saving bow”, “working towards the frog” , or a partial carry through the air before grabbing the pick-up closer to the frog. Better the students have to think of ways to solve the problem. You can have them try, or someone demos, any acceptable solutions, and then choose (as a group). If this is not a common occurence in your group, try to extinguish by ignoring. If it is a particular student or students, consider quiet private conversation. If it is more widespread, then you do need to work on how you are perceived. Is the string coach supportive of you, open to your questions, and takes your requests/suggestions about spots that need work? SueNovember 13, 2012 at 9:21 am #15285
The strings coach is very supportive. I like the idea of asking them to self diagnose and solve. I thought about making some bowing changes to make it easier to get the phrasing that is needed. I’ll talk to the strings teacher about the problem.
After thinking more about it, it is only 1 (at most 2) students who are making these negative comments. I asked the strings coach, and he gets the same thing from the same student…. and our strings coach has a Ph.D. in performance and plays in several professional orchestras! Perhaps I am overly sensitive due to the private violin instructor who gave me grief when I first started. (By the way, I took private lessons from her, and it was helpful. First, I learned that she is an exceptional private teacher. Secondly, she grew in confidence in my musical abilities and understanding. It was tough to ask her for lessons, but turned out to have been a pretty good move.)November 14, 2012 at 10:35 am #15408
I agree with Bechlers697. There was a musical reason why you initiated the correction in the first place–an unwanted accent. Solicit solutions from your most experienced players. I’ll bet they collectively can come up with the right answer. Wanting to sound good is something both you and they have in common. Calling on their knowledge is a sign of your respect for them.
I have a guide to common orchestral bowings which I can e-mail you (and anyone who wants it) for use with your group and for the middle school directors that feed your high school. The exercises are arranged from easy to difficult. You will need to know what constitutes right and wrong including what common problems you should expect. I suggest you sit down with an experienced string player and go through them one by one. Since the left hand doesn’t even come into the picture in these exercises, you can learn them on an open string before you apply them to scales and later to repertoire
In addition, I encourage you to attend concerts or rehearsals by professional players. Notice what they do to achieve appropriate musical results.
You can get my e-mail address in the CONTACT section of my website.
http://www.stringskills.comNovember 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm #15450
Thank you everyone for your posts!
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