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New teacher doesn't understand?

Simon

New Member
Messages
17
Hi all,

Recently went to a new teacher after not having lessons and not really playing for a year or two. And very suddenly came across a number of things.

I was previously studying with a local Jazz player, who is very well respected across the country and Europe (Lessons were often re arranged as he was gigging etc!), and he was very down to earth about teaching, and would only teach things he said were 'useful' and needed for playing, so things like reed choice and mouthpiece choice he would leave up to 'if it works for you then go for it'. I got to around ABRSM grade 6/7 with him.

When i went to this new teacher i was almost immediately told i had the worst embouchure that he had seen in ten years, that my mouthpiece ( a 'fairly' pricy Otto Link Super Metal 5*, bought from Dawkes' ) was faulty and was made defectively. My reed strength was too poor ( Java Red/Green 2) along with a whole host of other things. I found this fairly hard to take from a teacher who is supposedly well respected in my area.

He also kept asking the question ' How good do you want to get? ' , to which i answered, that i wanted to be able to quietly jam along to a few backing tracks at home, alone. And that i didn't really desire becoming a giant gigging jazz musician. He found it incredibly hard to understand that i didn't want to be the best in the world.

My question is, is it just me that doesn't desire becoming world class, i just want to be able to play for myself..

Thanks

Simon
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,783
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
It always raises a red flag for me when I hear that a new private teacher puts down a student's former teacher in order to build himself/herself up. If it were me, I would challenge the teacher to play my saxophone with his set up, and then let me play with his set up to see if the resulting tone and control are that much different. He may have a point, but I suspect he does not. As a teacher I like to encourage my students to be the "best that they can be". "Best in the world" is totally unrealistic. As I see it, my job as a teacher is to remove the obstacles that may stand in the way. Taking lessons with different teachers is kind of like going to a buffet, you take what you like and leave the rest for others.
 

TimboSax

Deputy junior apprentice 2nd class
Café Supporter
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927
Locality
Cambridgeshire
Find a different teacher. I'd have charged this guy for wasting my time.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
533
Locality
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
I do know that some Otto Links (amongst other mpcs) aren't that well finished and could do with refacing straight out of the box. Nothing to do with the place of sale. So that could be true. If you've been playing at a grade 6/7 level, he may think that you are playing a combination of a small tip opening with a soft reed, given your experience. Lots of people have lots of opinions on these things. If your old teacher didn't offer any advice, it may be that a better combination would help you more. I know I can make my own choices on reeds/mpcs now, but I valued advice at the start and didn't think it unimportant.

I guess it must be difficult to experience such a difference in style. I'd see how it goes. It may just be the newness of your relationship. But if he doesn't suit you move on.
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
401
Locality
Wiltshire, UK.
...My question is, is it just me that doesn't desire becoming world class, i just want to be able to play for myself..

You're getting some good replies about your teacher, so I'll just answer this part of your post. No, it's not just you. I'm fairly sure I don't have the talent to be world class (and even if I did, it would be a mare finding baby-sitters for all those gigs ;}). I want to jam with other people, but would be perfectly content with competent impro in my kitchen, guided by a helpful teacher.
 

DHM

Wrinkled retainer
Messages
249
Locality
West Midlands, UK
My question is, is it just me that doesn't desire becoming world class, i just want to be able to play for myself..

You are certainly not alone in that.

A teacher who fails to grasp that different pupils have—and are perfectly entitled to have—different goals is the pedagogical equivalent of a chocolate teapot.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,914
Locality
Just north of Munich
Agree - there's a problem.

Couple of thoughts, but on the whole I go with what's been said already.

Suggesting a change of anything - embouchure/reed/mouthpiece should only be done for a reason, and this should be talked through, not just handed over as a big crit. e.g. if the reed is stopping you getting up to the high notes, trying something a little harder may be a good idea.

You want to be you, within your aspirations. It's the teacher's job to help you meet these goals, not trash them. He should also push and inspire and if you're capable of going further, then part of the teaching should include pushing you a bit further.

I changed teacher twice in quick succssession a while ago, cos the first one retired. One (of many) problem with the middle one was that he wanted me to make unwarranted and unjustified changes, based on his narrow views of what's right. I refused. The third works with me on where I want to be. And the only crit of the kit has been an occasional complaint about poor tone from an old reed...

My daughter had to change cello teachers recently. First thing the new one did was criticise her hand position, and insist she changed. I'm proud of my daghter, cos at 14 she refused, telling the new one "I've just spent 18 months working with my old teacher to get to this. I'm not changing again just because you say so..." One shocked new teacher put in place and she's now really losing interest. Sooner the other comes back from maternity leave the better, cos the puch and inspirational side are gone.

I'd start looking and get away from this one as soon as you can.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
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5,540
Locality
The Palm Tree strewn Wandle Surf Beach under the o
You do owe an explanation to the new guy, explain that you had a partnership with the previous coach who helped you to go where you wanted to go and rote teaching, such as he is offering, does not appeal to you. As you are paying for the lesson, is he willing to provide you with the discussions and help you desire or noy.

That way you give the latest tutor a chance to see the problem from your side, an opportunity to change his style and make him aware that all clients are different and should be treated as individuals.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Messages
3,444
Locality
manchester
I think you should not base any future decisions on one meeting unless it was absolutely catastrophic I would have thought that if you are at grade 6 or7 you must be a reasonably competent player and he may have been treating you on this level and trying to give you advise on your set up that might be good advise for you especially when you say your original tutor offered nothing in this respect,rather than trying to put your set up down and has been said some of these off the shelf MPC's are not as good as you think
As far as asking where you want to go with your playing I think a teacher needs have an idea of where you personally want to go so he can guide you in that direction ie is your goal to get as many qualifications as possible or become a very competent player whose able to gig with the best, the two don't necessarily equate to the same thing, the remark might have been a reaction to most of his students saying just that, he could well be trying to talk to you as a more accomplished player rather than an absolute beginner, I would be inclined to see if a few more meetings might make your relationship grow rather than throwing it away because he is completely different to your previous tutor ....good luck .....John
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
1. Ditch the mouthpiece - get a better one
2. Ditch the Reeds - get better ones.
3. Ditch the Teacher!
4. Ignore 1. and 2.
5. Find decent teacher!
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,944
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The best players don't necessarily make the best teachers or students and the best teachers aren't necessarily the best players. For any sucessful combination of study there has to be mutual respect. It's a bonus if you actualy like your teacher but not essential but there must be respect.

I do wonder why you bother with lessons to play in your bedroom. Play and record it. Your ear will tell you if you're getting where you want to be. There's lots of experience on here if you get stuck and lots of us record and post our back bedroom efforts for the entertainment and critique of the forum.

I wouldn't know what world class means. Some players touch you and some don't. There are highly rated musicians making a mint with huge followings that do nothing for me. Some local, unknown players, who've never been on stage, touch me profoundly. The fact you play must mean you have something you want to get out.

Perhaps the lessons with your old teacher were more of a social thing or a jam with someone you enjoyed being with. This new teacher may be more interested in training a musician formaly.

If you want to forgo the joy and fulfilment of making music with others it's your choice, but I would suggest you have a look for some sort of music group or band. You'll learn by playing and perhaps get more from it and maybe just maybe you'll get paid to play rather than paying to learn and who knows.....you may become world class without knowing.:thumb:
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
The best players don't necessarily make the best teachers or students and the best teachers aren't necessarily the best players. For any sucessful combination of study there has to be mutual respect. It's a bonus if you actualy like your teacher but not essential but there must be respect.

I do wonder why you bother with lessons to play in your bedroom. Play and record it. Your ear will tell you if you're getting where you want to be. There's lots of experience on here if you get stuck and lots of us record and post our back bedroom efforts for the entertainment and critique of the forum.

I wouldn't know what world class means. Some players touch you and some don't. There are highly rated musicians making a mint with huge followings that do nothing for me. Some local, unknown players, who've never been on stage, touch me profoundly. The fact you play must mean you have something you want to get out.

Perhaps the lessons with your old teacher were more of a social thing or a jam with someone you enjoyed being with. This new teacher may be more interested in training a musician formaly.

If you want to forgo the joy and fulfilment of making music with others it's your choice, but I would suggest you have a look for some sort of music group or band. You'll learn by playing and perhaps get more from it and maybe just maybe you'll get paid to play rather than paying to learn and who knows.....you may become world class without knowing.:thumb:

People learn to play sax in many different ways and for different reasons. I perfectly understand why someone might want to learn to play a sax very well for personal pleasure alone so a little of your post does appear to sound patronising, which is a shame. You assume that making music with others is universally joyous and fulfilling and that learning to play music at home (or bedroom as you seemed to want to call it) is almost a pointless exercise, which may be wide of the mark for many sax players.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,331
Locality
London
Plenty of good advice here.

As a teacher, I do my best not to address mouthpiece or gear issues, unless it is absolutely necessary: i.e. a leaky horn or an extremely wrong reed strength. Unless the student reached a point in which the current gear is a limit to expressivity. As long as the result is good and it does not negatively affect embouchure, my job is to teach music. This also means that I cannot impose my opinions about sound and musical taste to my students, unless they are willingly interested in it.

I often have student coming from a different teacher, or self thought. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable, but part of the job is finding the correct way to cope with the student's individuality, that includes his/her previous experience.
On the other hand, I have a student that slap-tongues every D1 she comes across, due to some previous approximate teaching. Fixing this is a pain.

Your post worries me also for a personal reason;
I have a very talented student, he is 12 and quite unique in his combination of creativity and self discipline.
He might have to go abroad for some time, and the family will look for a saxophone teacher there (Switzerland).
At the point my student is now, a wrong teacher could be a disaster.
To give you an example, I decided he should play soprano (he started on soprano because his hands were too tiny for anything else) with a setting that allows flexibility rather than ease of tuning. Of course he plays perfectly in tune, but I don't know how many teachers could do the same. It was my personal (demanding) choice, but I can easily see a teacher saying "that mouthpiece is wrong, get a Selmer C*" A whole aspect of his expressivity would probably go in no time.
(Yes, he is lucky enough to play perfectly in tune with a large chambered piece)
Should I audition Swiss teachers myself to find the right one?
 
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Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,336
Locality
North West UK
You could certainly do with being involved in the process of finding them one though, even if its just listening to your pupil's report on them and if they`re telling him to change anything or do anything radically different otherwise they`ll undo a lot of your work and confuse the student .
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
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21,914
Locality
Just north of Munich
Should I audition Swiss teachers myself to find the right one?

Either that or work through contacts to find one. A good briefing on the issues for the parents wouldn't go amiss, either. I'm sure there are one or two swiss members. Hopefully one will speak up...

Of course you do realise that this insistance of yours could be construed the wrong way....
 

Simon

New Member
Messages
17
Thanks everyone.

Going to have another lesson or two with him to make my mind up. Really practising hard to try prove him wrong for next week!

Simon
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,331
Locality
London
Of course you do realise that this insistance of yours could be construed the wrong way....

In wich sense? It is no secret that there are many "teachers" around that cannot do their job.
In this case, since I am in a very good relation with the family, we all know how passionate the student is, and I see an incredible potential that would be a pity to waste only because a teacher like the one in the OP turns out.

I have been lucky to find some great teachers on my path (in particular one for saxophone and one for composition) but I already knew what I wanted. Maybe I just feel too responsible for something that, after all, is just music... :)
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,331
Locality
London
Thanks everyone.

Going to have another lesson or two with him to make my mind up. Really practising hard to try prove him wrong for next week!

Simon

Please keep us updated.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,183
Locality
Cheshire UK
Plenty of good advice here.

As a teacher, I do my best not to address mouthpiece or gear issues, unless it is absolutely necessary: i.e. a leaky horn or an extremely wrong reed strength. Unless the student reached a point in which the current gear is a limit to expressivity. As long as the result is good and it does not negatively affect embouchure, my job is to teach music. This also means that I cannot impose my opinions about sound and musical taste to my students, unless they are willingly interested in it.

I often have student coming from a different teacher, or self thought. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable, but part of the job is finding the correct way to cope with the student's individuality, that includes his/her previous experience.
On the other hand, I have a student that slap-tongues every D1 she comes across, due to some previous approximate teaching. Fixing this is a pain.

Your post worries me also for a personal reason;
I have a very talented student, he is 12 and quite unique in his combination of creativity and self discipline.
He might have to go abroad for some time, and the family will look for a saxophone teacher there (Switzerland).
At the point my student is now, a wrong teacher could be a disaster.
To give you an example, I decided he should play soprano (he started on soprano because his hands were too tiny for anything else) with a setting that allows flexibility rather than ease of tuning. Of course he plays perfectly in tune, but I don't know how many teachers could do the same. It was my personal (demanding) choice, but I can easily see a teacher saying "that mouthpiece is wrong, get a Selmer C*" A whole aspect of his expressivity would probably go in no time.
(Yes, he is lucky enough to play perfectly in tune with a large chambered piece)
Should I audition Swiss teachers myself to find the right one?

Teach him by skype :)

Jx
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,914
Locality
Just north of Munich
Of course you do realise that this insistance of yours could be construed the wrong way....
In wich sense? It is no secret that there are many "teachers" around that cannot do their job.
In this case, since I am in a very good relation with the family, we all know how passionate the student is, and I see an incredible potential that would be a pity to waste only because a teacher like the one in the OP turns out.

I have been lucky to find some great teachers on my path (in particular one for saxophone and one for composition) but I already knew what I wanted. Maybe I just feel too responsible for something that, after all, is just music... :)

Being adamant about the mouthpiece... Then you're doing the same as a new teacher insisting on something mainstream.
But I fully agree with what you're saying. You clearly have a good reason, know what you're doing. But someone new may not recognise this.
 
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