Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Hi there,

I’m looking for any advice or informed opinion.

I’m a young french guy who started the fiddle at 26 years old. I loved it. I started working at lot, I first had a classic teacher.

Than I moved to a city where I had some lesson with a teacher that first learned classic and than learnt irish style.

Both said I’m making good progress.

I’m 28 now, and i plan to follow courses into a school that has a trad teacher. The thing is :

I’d like to become a teacher. Teach irish trad, maybe other trad. If I can do it in a association, that would be perfect. More than the diplomas ( I don’t expect people around here to be aware of french music diplomas!)
i’m worried about the skills and the legitimacy.

Can I expect after 10 years of daily practice becoming a fiddle teacher?

I assume it’ll take around 10 years. wrong, right?

If you have exerience as a teacher who started the fiddle as an adult, it’ll be very welcome here!

Théo

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I play fiddle and teach another instrument. I’ve been playing fiddle on and off since 2005, with as much off as on.

It is more difficult in a sense these days to prove legitimacy as a teacher of traditional music of any kind, as people are much better informed but also educational institutions are producing expert musicians by the busload every year. On the other hand, it’s probably easier to find students than it’s ever been.

Personally I wouldn’t dare teach the fiddle for money, though I might teach a beginner who was a personal friend or suchlike, or in a community setting. On the other hand, that’s not what I’ve been working towards with my playing.

I do know of one adult learner who has become a very good player (SMG Edinburgh people will know who I mean) and teacher, but it’s certainly less common.

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Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I guess it depends at what level you want to teach.
As a beginner musician, who desperately wanted to learn the fiddle, I took 5 lessons with a professional teacher and, whilst she was an incredible player, I don’t think she was very good at teaching.
I lost all motivation with her and never attempted it again.
I clearly have no expert knowledge on this, but suspect being a good beginner violin teacher is as much being able to impart passion and pass skill over as it is to be an exceptional player, so I wouldn’t let your age (which is young to me!) stop you pursuing your dream.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

To answer your question: no.
Teaching successfuly a skill or skill set requires another skill set…. how to teach.
But before teaching one needs to be proficient in the skills to be taught……
playing fiddle is an exquisite task requiring numerous fine motor skills .
For me, i played and practiced every day for 10 yrs before I started getting a sound that rewarded me. Another 20 years and Im fairly confidant that Im half way there roughly…..
Its not time so much as focus and direction.
Please dont teach bad habbits, dont , through ego and arrogance impede anothers progress through not deeply understanding your own craft and sending students in the wrong direction.

If you aspire to be a teacher, study pedagogy as well as the art and study the art in depth, not height, depth.
With one eye on the destination you have only one ete for the road…..
things will develope naturally and organically to support your journey, dont force and push , rather wait for the right moment and that moment will be yours .

Enjoy the journey
Cheers

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I used to know a woman in St Andrews who taught piano - and earned quite a lot with child learners. She had no music qualifications beyond Grade 5 (In UK grades go up to Grade 8 (final) and then you can proceed to a music degree if you pass all these exams). Her husband had left her, she loved music and was very good with children.

So, if you feel you want to teach, go ahead, it sounds as if you have much to offer. Better if you keep the fees moderate though!

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

The SMG has been mentioned.

Over the years and, arguably, even more so in the early ALP days, many of the better local musicians were not necessarily the best teachers.

As others have stated, it’s a different skill set Providing you do gain the necessary teaching skills, I don’t see an issue with you working in this field.
However, you will also be restricted in terms of your own musical ability and experience. You may have to focus on just a small part of the music and at a certain level.
It’s also a very competitive field and just being able to do it may not be enough.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I’m sure you’re a nice person, but if you haven’t learned ITM yet, how can you expect to teach? I suspect it will take well more than 10 years for you to learn how to play.

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Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I didn’t start playing Irish until I was about 35. I started teaching tunes at a tune learning session about 5-6 years into my playing. About 10 years into my playing, I had a couple people ask me for banjo lessons. I certainly didn’t feel "ready" to teach, formally, but I agreed to show them some basics to get them started (without asking for any money). But I will say that teaching (both tunes and techniques) is something that I found enjoyable, and it was really good for my own playing for sure! So I started teaching more. Now at 20+ years in, I teach regularly, both private lessons, and at festivals, and I really enjoy it! So if teaching is something that calls to you, don’t let the naysayers talk you out of something you want to do!

But if you’re looking to make it your living, it will likely take more than 10 years before you have enough of a reputation that people will be searching you out to learn from. And you will have to decide what kind of teacher you want to be. You mentioned maybe Irish trad and maybe other forms too. You could shoot for being a general violin teacher, which might net you more students. But if you want to teach Irish, I would recommend immersing yourself completely in Irish, at least for a while, so that you can play it well in the style you find in Ireland. And even then, it may be hard to compete with teachers that are from Ireland (and have presumed authenticity because of it). But I can’t really speak for how things of this nature are in France…

Best of luck!

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I started playing at 8 years of age - I started "instructing" a music group in traditional (Not specifically ITM) music six years ago age 52, I did not feel qualified or competent, although it has worked out OK. Diplomas etc are not what you you need - you need experience, good ears and a good understanding of ethnomusicology and the spirit of performance… if that means nothing to you… then go teach French to dumb English students.

Without sounding like the old git that I am, ITM IMO should be passed down from "elders" otherwise it will just further dilute and distort the tradition - I have myself attended some great ITM workshops, not by great players but by great teachers… they were priceless to me.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

If you have the talent, dedication, and focus, why not? It will probably take you a good few years, but it is possible. Dont let the naysayers discourage you.

That being said, the usual caveats about teachers earning money etc always apply.

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Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Depending on what you mean by Irish Trad, do you mean like the Pogues Clancy brothers Christy Moore, or are you talking Traditional Irish music.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Nae bother about IT skills. Be a teacher in the real world - though harder in present situation!!!

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

If you really want to become a teacher in music, you could ask your own music teacher on how to approach this. They have done it before you and may have some great advice. You could also expiriment a bit with teaching basic things or specific tunes via the digital world (like youtube) for free. Just to test things out.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I have met a few musicians, from both the trad and classical worlds, that were encouraged to teach as children, as soon as they had a basic level of competence on their instrument. Teaching, like playing, uses its own special set of skills and the sooner you acquire them, the more ‘second nature’ they become. Also, it makes sense to learn to demonstrate and articulate verbally your playing skills whilst they are still relatively basic, thus establishing a foundation that can be built on as your playing skills increase; this seems to me to be much easier than first learning to play to a very high standard and only then trying to figure out how to convey your knowledge and skills to the less skilled musician or beginner.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

If you want to teach, teach, that’s the way to get better at it. I had a half-hearted try at piano teaching long ago, admitting to one pupil I’d no degree! I lent him my Simon & Garfunkle album, never to be seen again, though he DID pay me my fee. (No, he never came back, I was wracked with disappointment).

Never be a lender of treasured books. Was prob. a lousy teacher, runs in the family!

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Hey there.
I believe that if you have a real love for the fiddle then you will make a great teacher. You mentioned that you played classical violin - did you do grades? If you’re proficient in classical music you will probably find Irish music very simple. I took up Irish music after classical and was surprised at just how easy I found it!

I started playing flute when I was 11 at a local comhaltas branch, when I was 14 I was asked to start teaching a class there. In comhaltas they are very encouraging and also need the teachers. If I was you I’d try to find a comhaltas branch - possibly easier said than done if you still live in France. If they think you are really enthusiastic they may offer you a class.

Best of luck.

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

I took up running after learning how to walk first and was surprised at just how easy I found it!

🙂

Re: Becoming a fiddle teacher : started the fiddle at 26 years old.

Hi all,

Thanks a lot for the replies. When I say Irish music, I mean jigs, reels, and polkas!

In fact, I’m gonna work hard and see what’s coming! I found out that there is a diploma that looks interesting, and affordable in maybe 4/5 years. I’ll find a part time job and work the fiddle in my spare time. I’ll see what happens after that.

It isn’t an easy way, but I worked in many different areas and I wish I will manage to have a job that makes me happy to wake up and go to work.

Cheers!