Two instrumental teachers?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by euph77, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. euph77

    euph77 Member

    Hi all,

    I am a peripatetic brass teacher and I've just been asked by one of my schools if I can take on a trumpet student who already has a teacher. His father (who is obviously paying for the lessons) has already been advised against this but has been insistent so the school have forwarded his enquiry on.
    What are other peoples views on this? I know what I think but just wondered if anyone had any experience of this whether as a teacher or student...

    Many thanks,
  2. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    I have seriously mixed feelings about this. I have been a teacher on both sides - I have been asked to give a student extra lessons (because his regular school teacher wasn't doing a very good job) and I have had a parent take their child to another teacher (because I wasn't putting their child through enough exams and the other teacher said he would put them through whatever exams the parent wanted).
    I also had a couple of extra lessons from a different teacher when I was a younger student - which were a refreshing few lessons - my regular teacher was a bass trombonist and the other was an actual trumpet player.

    My first question would be to ask why they want extra lessons?
    If it is because the regular teacher won't do as the parent wishes - RUN AWAY!
    I have had a number of parents over the years who think they know better about which exams their children should be taking and if I dare to disagree (or even say that they are not ready) then I am immediately classed as a "bad teacher" and they start to look elsewhere. Luckily for those parents there is a local teacher who specialises in getting students through exams without actually teaching them how to read or play with any decent technique. You can spot his students a mile off - they have bits of paper saying how good they are (well, these bits of paper are always up on the wall at home) but can't sight read a single note and have a tone that could best be described as chainsaw.

    Do you know their regular teacher?
    Are they decent?
    (no need to answer that here - professional discretion and all that)

    When I was asked to take on a student alongside someone else I enquired heavily about why they wanted me to teach them and it was because they wanted to get admitted to a school and had been told that they wouldn't get in based on their first pre-audition meeting - they had been told to find " a decent trumpet teacher, whoever you have got at the moment is not up to the job." The student came to me most weekends and 2-3 lessons per week during the holidays and I have NEVER seen a student work so hard. He ended up now just being admitted but also getting a full music scholarship.

    Someone asked me only yesterday whether I would possibly teach their daughter alongside another teacher (who is being a bit unreliable at the moment) and I am quite wary of doing so. There are a couple of things I know she needs to change in her playing (in order to achieve the levels of performance that she desires) but I don't want to mention it in case her regular teacher has already got a plan of attack and I would be getting in the way.

    It is a minefield - made slightly easier to navigate with more information as to why the parent is looking for a different teacher.
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Surely it's up to whoever is paying the fees?

    If they are not happy with the teacher they have, they are free to change. And, like in any other business, you should be free to take over.
  4. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Check what your employers (county) have to say about this before you go any further as they have normally got a policy for this. Other than that, tread carefully and do some digging around to find out why they feel the need for two teachers before going ahead and if you take it on then I would insist that the other teacher is informed that you are also teaching the child and contact details exchanged so that you can ensure you don't repeat the same work as each other. It can work, but rarely does it.
  5. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    I would seek out the best interests of the child involved, rather than his father or your employer. Some parents buy extra tuition in academic subjects for their children with no ill effects, and the same might be true here, in which case there is no problem.
    However, if his father is dissatisfied with one music teacher, he is likely to be dissatisfied with a second one, so I would tread carefully. this might be a good situation in which to draw up one of those awful tripartite learning contracts between yourself, the student and the parent so everyone is clear about expectations
  6. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    I had a Trombone playing Teacher at School who, whilst trying to teach me the Euphonium, insisted on my playing without any Vibrato at all.

    When I listen now to all the top Euphonium Players, I realise what an idiot he was, but as a child I believed him
  7. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    There's a massive difference between taking over from a previous teacher, and working alongside an exisiting teacher - which I'm pretty sure is what the OP is asking about. If that is the case then Mike's right, its an absolute minefield and first step imo has to be finding out why they want another teacher.
  8. euph77

    euph77 Member

    Thanks for the responses so far; Accidental is right - I have been asked to work alongside an existing teacher. Those are some good thoughts, Trumpetmike (and everyone else); and Kiz7, it is County, so I'll go ask them, too.
    I better go send some emails...

  9. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    I'm fairly sure there used to be something in the staff handbook about two teachers Phil that we could refer to if approached about this. Not seen a handbook for the last 18 months or so but it might be worth checking.
  10. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    I've only been asked to work alongside another teacher once, with a kid I started off and the parents decided to have lessons at school with the county muppets (the teacher is actually very good, just the organisation are muppets) when he moved to secondary school. Their reasons were getting a discount on a new Trumpet (I started him off on cornet) by doing it through the County music service and, because he was above G4 standard, he got a 30 minute lesson for the price of a 20 minute lesson (which was probably less over the term than I charge, but would get less lessons)

    I gave him a couple of lessons along side his school lessons but, I just didn't feel right. It was like I was intruding on his now new teacher's territory. I wouldn't like it if one of my students was having lessons on the side occasionally with someone else!

    People have mentioned taking over from other teachers, I teach one lad who's teacher never even got his instrument out in lessons (his company has since gone bust after charging parents a year in advance and not paying the teachers, owing thousands of pounds!) and one cornet player, who was being taught by a BBb bass player, who can't even tell you what note he's playing! I've had others that haven't been taught how to tongue properly, some with embouchures that have taken months to correct and some that haven't even been told that instruments need cleaning!
  11. katieeuph

    katieeuph Member

    The only way I can possibly see it working is if one teacher concentrated more on the technique side of things and all the 'nitty gritty', and the other teacher purely explored repertoire. Even then I think it would be difficult- it's hard enough taking over from another teacher (particularly when pupils have been allowed to develop bad habits!), let along both teaching the same person in possibly totally different ways.
  12. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Personally, I wouldn't touch this with a barge pole unless I knew the other teacher well and it was made plain from the start that this was extra tuition for a specific purpose.
  13. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Don't get on the bad habits!

    I'm teaching a few that were started from the now disgraced Fenland Music Academy (The guy that runs it owes teachers thousands of pounds after charging parents a year in advance!) The guy teaching brass didn't even get his instrument out during beginner lessons?! He was the guy running the whole shambles! I'm so glad I didn't get any work from them, they offered me a job but I got no students from it! Thankfully!
  14. I have had experience of having two teachers, one taught the repatoire in depth and the other would do technique ie. excercises, aural, scales, play the piano accomp. etc. it worked quite well for me without any trouble at all! so for some people it works, although i think it may differ from person to person.
  15. euph77

    euph77 Member

    Hi Tom,

    Did your 2 teachers know each other; and I'm guessing if they didn't, they knew the deal - ie that you had both and one would teach repertoire and the other technique. I can see how that would work.

    Thanks for all the other comments so far... The college is aware of my concerns and I'm waiting to hear what the dad thinks about my reluctance.

  16. Its like you say. It works well as long as there are clear boundries between what each teacher does with you, so there arent any differences in opinion ;) another factor to note is that its a rather expensive business having two long-term teachers, but worth it for something important (in my case conservatoire auditions)
  17. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    I had two teachers for a few (crucial) weeks actually. My teacher, who had taught me from the start, was on Jury duty during my A levels. He'd already got me through my grade 8 and they sent another bloke that just kept getting me to play things over and over again because he thought it was a fluke that I got it the first time (I was working on Malcolm Arnold's Tpt concerto at the time) The number of times he made me play the end....It's only a high E!
  18. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    No, it's only an E ;)

    (personal pet hate - the use of the word "high" - it's not high, it is just higher than some others - I find a huge number of students who have an in-built fear of anything above the stave because it has been taught as "high")
  19. CornetMatt

    CornetMatt New Member

    I originally had one teacher, but for the space of about 4 months, i had a lesson with another teacher once a fortnight. I was having problems with range etc. and then it was suggested that maybe a second opinion could help. I'm now back to the one teacher, but i have reached a playing ability which i never thought was possible for me. Just having the second teacher removing my mental blocks and suggesting techniques was enough of a help. I think a second teacher is only advisable if the student thinks its a good idea, not the parents, because at the end of the day, the student is likely to know whats wrong more than parents. hope this is some use =)
  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You need to be able to play without the wobble. If there's a kid who learns to produce the sound with an intrinsic wobble, then they are limiting themselves musically. I wouldn't call the teacher an idiot, I'd recognise that they had a point.

    Have a listen to some of the top American euphonium players if you want to hear quality euphonium playing without the vibrato.

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