March 2011

Teacher Talk

A series of teaching-articles in the Strad Magazine

What advice would you give a novice teacher based on your own teaching experiences? Erika Burns, Seattle, US
Boris Kuschnir: It is important to have patience with the rate at which each individual student develops. Give great care and attention to the physical set-up of the student, striving to achieve a natural way of holding the instrument without unnecessary tension. Special attention must be given to the correct movement when changing position in the left hand, and to the smooth change of bow both at the tip and the heel. Beware of giving students repertoire which exceeds their current technical ability; even if it may seem impressive, doing so can cause great damage to their development. Be sure to see your students at least twice a week, and allow and encourage them to participate in masterclasses which other teachers, especially those of renowned musicians. Avoid being excessively critical of students in the presence of their peers or their parents, and never raise your voice at them. Do not be shy of attending and learning from the lessons of other teachers. Don’t attempt to compete with your colleagues. This always causes the students to suffer. Also, don’t necessarily prioritise the pursuit of prizes at competitions. Always keep in mind the fact that the distinguishing feature of a great violinist and musician is not only technical brilliance, but also a beautiful and, above all, individual sound.