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Escape from Idiocrasy

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Ok, this is a bit of a rant, so fasten your seat belt.

Background

I would love to have a music teacher. Actually I would prefer to have an "instrument teacher", or "technique teacher". By that, I simply mean that I need more help in terms of learning the technical aspects of playing an instrument, than I need in term of learning things such as "music theory". Not that I'm opposed to learning music theory, it's just that I can pretty much do that on my own without the help of a teacher.

So I'm seeking a "technique teacher" and potential "incentive coach" to help me learn to play various instruments. And I have no problem studying scales, intervals, arpeggios, etc. In other words, if they want to teach music theory on top of that, fine. But my main reason for seeking out a teacher it to gain help with technique.

"The Teacher"

I live in a very rural area so there aren't many choices for music and/or instrument teachers. In fact, for all intents and purposes there is only one multi-instrument teacher in town. He brags about offering lessons on just about whatever instrument you care to play. So he considers himself to able teach students on almost any instrument. And he advertises as such.

He lists his credentials as having worked as high school band leader, as well as teaching orchestra for both high schools and community projects. He plays in a town band. In the band he plays trombone mainly. He considers trombone to be his primary interest.

He also advertises that he will work with students to set up lessons that are tailored to their special needs and requirements.

Finally, he says that he's hurting financially because he doesn't have as many students as he would like to have (he just told me that in person when I spoke with him).

My Offer

So I go to this guy and I tell him that I would like to sign up as a student. He has "monthly rates". You pay a monthly fee. Go in for lessons once a week. So 4 lessons a month. I think the lesson is 30 minutes long, for the basic fee. But you can pay more for longer lessons if you like.

He claims to be very flexible and anxious to accommodate the needs of the student.

So he asks me what instrument I play.

I explain that I play saxophone, trumpet, fiddle, cello, flute and drums, and that I would like to have lessons on all of these instruments. So I ofter to him a DEAL. I'll become his student and pay the monthly fee, if he'll simply give me "lessons" or "pointers" on all these various instruments (one instrument a week, as required by me). I'll be glad to even learn the very SAME pieces of music on all the instruments if that would be helpful for him. All I ask it that he work with me to help with all these different instruments. I'll even let him know ahead of time which instrument I'd like to have a lesson on for the following week.

By the way, he claims to be able to teach all of the instruments that I listed above. He has them all listed on his brochure as instruments that he can "teach". So I'm not asking him to do anything that he isn't already advertising.

The Very Weird Thing

He OBJECTS!

He refuses to have any parts of it. He claims that I could never get anywhere trying to learn all of those instrument simultaneously, and argues that the whole thing would just be a total failure.

That doesn't sound to me like this guy is ready to work with people's needs.

So I ask him, "What have you got to lose?"

Here I am offering to sign up a monthly student. I even told him that if I feel he's helping me I might even go for 'double lessons'. His doubly-expensive monthly program. And stretch each lesson into an hour long session.

I'm offering this man BUSINESS! He just got down telling me that he's hard-up for students.

He replies, "My reputation is at stake".

I ask, how so?

He says that if he starts teaching insincere students who aren't willing to focus on a single instrument they will not improve and it will be a bad reflection on him.

No Contest

I didn't bother to argue with him.

Here I am offering the man some money to put in his bank account and all he can do is give me excuses why he's not interested in taking on a PAYING student.

To be perfectly honest about it, I didn't get good vibes from this guy anyway. I question his ability as a teacher, and in the end I'm probably better off saving the money and just continuing on my own self-learning path.

But at least I gave it a shot. I personally think he should have taken me up on the deal at least for a month or two to see how things go. I'm sure that it wouldn't have been a bad mark on his reputation if things didn't work out. Who would know anyway?

And even if people did know, he could just tell them, "Well the guy was trying to learn a gazillion different instruments at once, it's hardly my fault he didn't get anywhere".

Sincerity

By the way, what does the number of instruments a person is interesting in learning have to do with their sincerity?

I'm retired. I have all day long to practice. I'm also only looking to learn to play for my own enjoyment. At my age I'm not even thinking about making a "career" as a musician.

I'm retired! I'm not even looking for work.

Personally I think this man just did himself out of an easy customer.

Like I say, if I felt that he was actually helping me I would be willing to move up to his doubly-expensive lesson package.

He REJECTS potential customers?

Well, he better never complain to me that he has no students! :)))

I mean, really.
 

Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

While I can understand your point of view SD, most people learn a max of 2 instruments at a time, unless they are very very gifted. I don't think you could do each instrument justice by trying to master so many.Yes I know there are people that play more than but learn one/two and then move on, the theory will not change unless it goes from classical to jazz theory which can be interesting.
If he is an ex band leader then he has experience. Why not just start with one and see how it goes. If he is all you have to choose from. better him than nothing..
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

If he is all you have to choose from. better him than nothing..
I'm personally not convinced of this. Besides, I think he's ultimately more of a "music teacher" than a "technique teacher".

I'm really not interesting in paying someone to tap their foot whilst I'm trying to sight-read from sheet music. My metronome will do that for free.

I realize there will be "arguments" potentially supporting his view from a "music teachers" point of view. But the reason I am calling him an "idiot" is because he's not a very wise business man turning away potential customers so easily.

He could have suggested that I start with the doubly-expensive lesson package. (hour long lessons) Then bring in a single instrument the first week. The second week bring in the same instrument to go over what had been learned for the first half-hour, then take a look at instrument #2 for the next half-hour, and so on.

It could have been an interesting venture, and he would have gained a PAYING customer.

A DOUBLY-PAYING customer in this case.

But instead he chose to just nip the whole thing in the bud and refuse to take on a new customer.

I'm not going to argue with that. I'll remain a self-learner using videos, and books.

His financial loss. My financial gain.

I've already spent the "lesson money" on instructional videos and books anyway. So he's out of luck now.

He'll have to find students elsewhere.
 

Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

SD at the end of the day he can play multi instruments?? You want to learn, he is the only teacher in your area?? Sometimes telling a prospective tutor what you want to do is not always the best way to get things done. By all means explain what you want to try and get out of music, but there comes a point where the " tutor " just might know best. I know it might not be what you want to hear, but the most progress will be made with a tutor. As for calling him an idiot for turning down your $$$$. What makes him an idiot for thinking that he can't help you and therefore doesn't want to waste his or your time.;};}
While there is nothing wrong with videos etc, how would you know if you had a problem with your instrument or if it was just your ability?? or lack of..This is just one example of where a tutor can help.:thumb:
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

What makes him an idiot for thinking that he can't help you and therefore doesn't want to waste his or your time.;};}
While there is nothing wrong with videos etc, how would you know if you had a problem with your instrument or if it was just your ability?? or lack of..This is just one example of where a tutor can help.:thumb:
Well, that's precisely why I'd like to get his input on several different instruments. That's what I'm willing to pay $$$$ for.

He was the one who advertised to be willing to work with the individual needs of the student. Well, my individual needs are that I could use advice and help on several different instruments. That's the only way it would be worth it for me. I have questions that I would like to be answered on all of the instruments I mentioned.

I just don't see where it would be a waste of his time, or my time to help me out with several different instruments over a period of time.

I personally thought that arrangement could benefit both of us. He'd gain a paying customer, I'd gain a resource where I can ask questions concerning all of my musical endeavors.

He's the one doing all the bragging in his advertisements about being able to teach just about any instrument imaginable.

Why is it that he could learn to play so many different instruments, yet he acts like this would be foolish for someone else to attempt?

If he's calling me "insincere" because I'm interested in learning a lot of different instruments, then what does that make him?

He too must be "insincere" because he already did that very thing! :)))
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

By the way, how could taking on a PAYING student be considered to be a waste of his time?

Even if I turned out to be the complete idiot who couldn't learn to put two notes together in succession he'd still be gaining a PAYING customer.

How could that be a waste of his time?

I'm the only one who could potentially be wasting both time and money if things don't work out. He's got nothing to lose.

It's not like he's overwhelmed with students and would need to decline someone else in order to take me in. On the contrary, he's already concerned that his business isn't going very well and he'd like to have more students.

And that's why I'm calling him an "idiot".

He basically turned away a paying customer in a small town when he's hard-up for students.

Sure sounds like an idiot to me.

If I were him I would have JUMPED on the opportunity to gain a new customer.

He's got nothing to lose and everything to gain, I would think.
 
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Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,617
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

It could have been an interesting venture, and he would have gained a PAYING customer.

A DOUBLY-PAYING customer in this case.

But instead he chose to just nip the whole thing in the bud and refuse to take on a new customer.


His financial loss. My financial gain.

.
I don't see there's any dishonour in turning down paid work that you don't feel you could do well.... covering so many bases runs the risk of only scratching the surface and, therefore, there's a real risk that a potential tuto doesn't feel he couldn'the job justice...
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

You could always try lessons for one instrument. And if that is agreeable for both of you, and after a few lessons, you could ask for another set of lessons for the 'next instrument in line'. Might solve itself that way...
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

You could always try lessons for one instrument. And if that is agreeable for both of you, and after a few lessons, you could ask for another set of lessons for the 'next instrument in line'. Might solve itself that way...
I actually gave that some thought. I was thinking of focusing in on the saxophone. However even he confessed that reed instruments aren't his "specialty". In other words, he probably can't play a reed instrument very well himself. And that brings his value as an instructor for the sax into question.

He specializes in trombone. So I was thinking that maybe the trumpet would be the best first instrument to start with. Find out just how good a teacher he really is by choosing an instrument closest to his "specialty".

I thought about it for a while, but this is a financial LEAP for me. He wants 3 months paid in advance. He sells them as "packages". He starts with a 3 month package and offers a discount if you purchase a year's worth of lessons. I also have no clue what he's like as a teacher. I don't want to be ripped off for a 3 month package when I might be highly dissatisfied after only a few lessons. If he has an old-school high-school approach, I might not find his teaching methods desirable or effective.

~~~~

In any case, I've already made my decision to spend the "lesson money" on video instructions and book resources. I've already ordered them and they are on the way.

So, maybe I'm going overboard calling the man an "idiot".

But he's not getting my money.

I warned that this thread was a 'rant'. ;}

I guess I just feel a bit 'betrayed' by his advertising.

In his ad he suggests that he can teach just about any orchestra or band instrument and he lists many of what he teaches. Every instrument I mentioned above was on his list.

In his ad he also says that he'll 'work with people' to accommodate their specific musical needs.

So that's what I expected when I went to his store.

Then he chastises me for wanting to learn more than one instrument and refuses to "work with me"?

Seems like false advertising to me.

So I guess that's was I'm truly upset about.
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

.....

Seems like false advertising to me.

So I guess that's was I'm truly upset about.
It happens all the time. Don't waste your energy on it, otherwise it will consume you completely. And I see that you have already gone and spent your energy on things you can do something about. And that's a good thing. (As is venting out a bit too. Something you do brilliantly in your rants :) )
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

I don't see there's any dishonour in turning down paid work that you don't feel you could do well.... covering so many bases runs the risk of only scratching the surface and, therefore, there's a real risk that a potential tuto doesn't feel he couldn'the job justice...
I do see your point Jules. Truly I do.

You're viewing it as him saving me from wasting my money.

Well, if that's the case, then maybe he did just that, and I'm far better off going the route of video and book instructions as I ended up doing.

Maybe I'm the "idiot" and he just helped me to make a better decision.

~~~~

In truth what I would really like to find are just some other musicians in the area to jam and practice with. I'll probably learn as much or more from them for FREE.

~~~~

It just seems to me that if I was able to play and teach a wide variety of instruments, and I owned a music store offering lessons like he does, and someone came to me wanting help learning several different instruments, I'd be happy to help them out to the best of my ability.

I'd most certainly at least take them in on a 'trial-basis' to find out how things might go. Maybe even warn them up front that it might be a waste of time and money and let that be their choice.

That's how I'd handle that.

To just reject the whole idea without even giving it a chance to get off the ground doesn't seem very productive to me. I'm all for giving things at least a chance. See where they go. Who knows how it might have turned out? Why jump to negative conclusions so quickly?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

It happens all the time. Don't waste your energy on it, otherwise it will consume you completely. And I see that you have already gone and spent your energy on things you can do something about. And that's a good thing. (As is venting out a bit too. Something you do brilliantly in your rants :) )
That's all I'm truly doing is venting.

I'm actually not "angry" with the music teacher.

I think what has me in such extreme emotional turmoil here is the "missed opportunity".

I keep thinking to myself that if I were in his position and someone came in my store wanting lessons on multiple instruments that would be like a GIFT from heaven!

I could work with that. Actually I think it would be rather interesting to see where it would go.

So I just can't get over this guy rejecting such an opportunity. Especially when he's hard up for students in the first place.

What was he THINKING? :)))

He's probably at home right now banging his head against the wall saying to himself, "What did I just do? I chased away a customer! I'm such an idiot!"
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,940
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

Hi SD
We'll never know, you may have called his bluff :shocked:

Something to consider. I've recently come across UK based music teachers (and I am sure there will be others around the planet!) who provide lessons to pupils in remote areas via SKYPE.

Not sure if this is an option for you as I seem to recollect you saying that you only have a dial-up network rather than broadband? In the UK there are initiatives to get high speed internet into rural areas through satellite links or radio links.
 

Jack

Member
Messages
123
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

I'm weighing in as a retired professional. To get really good and playing the sax, it is my opinion and experience that you will need to practice in various ways about 4 hours per day. I am sure if you ask Pete Thomas how many hours per day he has "woodsheded" you will be amazed, and I believe He is the best saxophonist I have ever heard.
(no kissing sounds please!)

As a retired musician, I I spend the morning writing arrangements and practice in the afternoon. I do some times alternate on Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bari, Clarinet, Guitar, Piano, Flute & trumpet (many times doubling saved me from having to hire an additional musician for my bands, and I have never been worth a crap on the piano) It took me many many years to develop any real mastery on instruments beyond the Saxophones.

Basically I am a saxophonist, and if I have learned anything over 50 years of playing, it's that you cannot specialize in everything. I feel that you need a real "sax man" to teach you. PT has several books that if you go through them they will help. also 25 daily exercises for saxophone by Klose $10.00 U. S. at Amazon.com (I am sure this is available in Britain, also.

I have gotten what I think is a public domain version from scribd.com in pdf format
 
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Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,773
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

I think that you're in so much "emotional turmoil" that it would be almost impossible to make a good working relationship with this bloke, so the only thing to do is move on SD.

I am self-taught on all my instruments, with a great deal of help from other musician friends who say "Have you tried this yet?". Go and get yourself some muso buddies and listen and learn. Use your lesson money wisely and get a few rounds in.

Andrew
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

Hi SD
We'll never know, you may have called his bluff :shocked:

Something to consider. I've recently come across UK based music teachers (and I am sure there will be others around the planet!) who provide lessons to pupils in remote areas via SKYPE.

Not sure if this is an option for you as I seem to recollect you saying that you only have a dial-up network rather than broadband? In the UK there are initiatives to get high speed internet into rural areas through satellite links or radio links.

Yeah, I'm still on dial-up and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Cable isn't scheduled to come in here for at least 2 more years or longer. And unfortunately satellite dish is out too. I'd have to cut down half the forest to get a clear shot at a satellite and I'm not willing to do that. Cell phones don't even work here either.

I'm cut off from humanity save for this little dial-up connection. Although, from what I hear, that's a blessing in disguise. ;}

I do go over to the library and use their wi-fi from time to time to download youtube videos. So I have been watching those. I usually download music tutorials on various instruments. They do help.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

It took me many many years to develop any real mastery on instruments beyond the Saxophones.
Well, it very well could be possible that I'm actually progressing quite well myself and just hoping for too much too soon. I mean, even obtaining a music teacher isn't going to be a magic bullet. It's probably still going to take me a very long time to progress to where I would like to be, even with a teacher. I was just toying with idea of trying one. When I saw what I thought might be an opportunity to be coached on several instruments by a single instructor I thought I'd give it a shot. But unfortunately my thinking was in error in terms of what he was actually offering to do for me.


Basically I am a saxophonist, and if I have learned anything over 50 years of playing, it's that you cannot specialize in everything.
Well, truth be told, I have no dreams of specializing in anything. I'd just kind of like to get enough of a handle on various instruments to be able to play them in back-yard jamming sessions. Actually, I am progressing toward that goal on my own. I have made quite a bit of progress since I've picked up these instruments, so it's not like I'm not getting anywhere on my own. For all I know I'm as far long as I would have been if I would have had a teacher. I really have no way of knowing whether I am or not.

I am making progress on my own to be sure. I just thought I'd try a teacher to see what that would be like. I was going to take this guy up on his 3-month package and decide from there. But unfortunately it never got off the ground.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

I think that you're in so much "emotional turmoil" that it would be almost impossible to make a good working relationship with this bloke, so the only thing to do is move on SD.

I am self-taught on all my instruments, with a great deal of help from other musician friends who say "Have you tried this yet?". Go and get yourself some muso buddies and listen and learn. Use your lesson money wisely and get a few rounds in.

Andrew
Thanks Andrew,

I am "over it" already. And I'm already moving forward. I just started this thread to get it out in the 'air' and blow it away completely.

I totally agree with you that the best resource of all would be to simply find other musicians to play with. In fact, I think that was part of my reason for seeking out this teacher. I was thinking that just by taking lessons at his store it would be a great opportunity to meet other students and potentially find other people to play with.

So when the lesson 'deal' didn't work out, I kind of felt 'socially rejected' I guess.

But I'm over that. Seriously I am.

~~~~

Speaking of playing with other musicians, I just recently got a book entitled "Jazz Duets for Saxophone". Two guys play sax duets on this CD.

As I started to play along I became frustrated with my inability to keep in really good time with their particular style and swing.

No matter how many times I tried, when I played back my recording, it just sounded like professional saxophonists being harassed by by amateur in the audience blowing a horn (that'd be me)

I actually gave up entirely. Then out of pure determination to get this timing down pat, I tried it again only this time playing the guitar which I have the most experience with. Well, even with the guitar I had a hard time really getting in sync with these guys. But after quite a bit of practice I finally got it to sound pretty good.

Then I took a moment to read the introduction to the book.

The authors say right off the bat that they have been playing together for TEN YEARS, and that the student shouldn't become discouraged if they can't play along with these duets right away.

I guess that's true, even for professional musicians to some degree. It probably takes some time for any two musicians to really become accustom to each others unique swing style, etc. So maybe I'm not as lame as I think.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

As a good coaching arrangement must feel good on both sides, surely it is only right for the other side to pull out if they don't feel comfortable? Would you rather that he accepted your offer despite feeling that it was out of his comfort zone?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Re: Dealing with an Idiot

As a good coaching arrangement must feel good on both sides, surely it is only right for the other side to pull out if they don't feel comfortable? Would you rather that he accepted your offer despite feeling that it was out of his comfort zone?
I don't feel that he even gave it a chance.

But I concede you're right. If he was that uncomfortable about it, then he did the right thing, and I take back calling him an 'idiot'. ;}

I think in the long haul I'll be happier without a teacher who's so fast to jump to conclusions anyway. So I'm glad I didn't make a commitment to his 3-month program.

I'll probably do better with these educational videos and books anyway. :welldone

He probably did me a favor and I'm the 'idiot' for not being thankful for that. :thumb:
 
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