I’ve noticed that many of my students who are ready to start teaching hesitate, citing lack of experience. Part of the issue is that they associate teaching with taking payment (insert hilarious comment here), and feel they have no right to charge for it, considering they are not “professional” cellists. 

So I say fine: don’t charge. 
Still hesitation and bristling, this time because they think they have nothing to say, or perhaps not effective enough technique. 
So I pull out a piece that I am personally struggling with, and run a section that is in imperfect shape. I ask them to identify the problem, from any angle. Then I ask them to think about what things I might be able to change to poke at the core issue. Even if they offer a suggestion that is not on-target, it gets the ball rolling. Usually, though, they offer fantastic advice: most problems come down to fundamentals, even in an old fogey like me. The technical failings of a very beginner are much more obvious and serve as a reminder of how insanely important technique is. 
Teaching a subject reminds you to apply the teachings to yourself. It’s the next phase of learning that I implore you to consider. So if you’re past Suzuki book 4 and can shift into 4th position reasonably well, volunteer to take on a beginner. It’s good for them, good for you, and is frequently a font of motivation for an instrument that can easily wear you down with its never-ending “to-do” list of craptastic infinitude. 
Craptastic infinitude. Sounds like a band I would play with. 

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2 Responses

  1. I've been wanting to comment on this article since right after you posted it, but have been at a loss for what to say (besides the OMG! ARE YOU INSANE?? going through my head.) I'm somewhere around the level you mentioned, though I'm not completely sure — I don't work out of the Suzuki book — but I've been comfortable in 4th position for a while. It's not that I don't think I wouldn't be able to teach someone just starting out. It's that I'm pretty sure no one in their right mind would want to learn from me. Certainly I wouldn't have wanted to learn from someone who played at my level when I was first starting. Maybe it would be good for me to teach, but I'm fairly certain it wouldn't be so good for the one I'd be teaching.

  2. It's the "fairly certain" that I'm going after here. Until you've done it, you just don't know. I have. I started teaching my junior year of high school- the kind of person who would want free lessons from someone who is an apprentice is very different from the average adult beginner or child whose parents have designs on a musical career. The context is important here, and I would suggest again that if you have not done it, have not tried it, you may not be at liberty to assess what the experience would be like.

    But yes, there is an element of insanity as well. All teaching requires that. 🙂

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