I started teaching the violin in college. I don't know if I was a very good teacher back then. I think my students now would be shocked at how much MORE mean I was back then. Now I am just much more demanding and sarcastic.
It is not unusual for me to tell a student that if they really want to kill me, a knife or a gun would be faster than the out of tune playing that they are trying to inflict upon me. Is that nice? No not really, but I have a different view of what is needed. Most of the students who stay with me end up realizing that I really do care about how they do and how they learn. I would rather that they go out and play well and be happy than just be happy in the lesson. If life is a performance, it is what happens on stage that is what counts, not what happens in the lesson or practice room.
I have had a lot of time to reflect on my musical education and I have been indeed lucky. I count on my hands the teachers I have had and none of have been a negative influence.
A number of years ago I started prepping kids specifically for auditions. It was something that I had done for students for years and as a student myself done countless times. I realized that what I was teaching the students was not violin playing, but the skills for auditioning. The audition process is scary and the people who do the worst are not always the worst players, and conversely the people who do the best aren't necessarily the best players.
At times I played perfectly well as a student and didn't get in, on others I did not do so well and won. Days where I had memory slips and gotten an award and other days when I played perfectly and only got an honorable mention. As a student it was incredibly frustrating. What did one have to do?
I performed the Paganini Violin Concerto a lot as a student, and I don't think I ever won a competition with it. I know nobody else was playing anything that hard....but did the judges care?
With age and foresight, i can now tell you that, what I thought they were looking for, is not what they were looking for. When I give my students pieces to audition with, they usually tell me that the other kids are playing this or that. I tell them don't worry and invariably it works out.
Starting August 22nd I'm running the Violin Audition Prep Program again. I will be lecturing and having friends come to speak and perform. I will post times for those lectures and please come and visit.