Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

Violin teachers as economists

In college, I couldn’t decide whether to study business or political science. So, I split the difference and studied economics.

Economics is the allocation of scarce resources. As it turns out, my education has given me a great framework to think about teaching.

Violin teachers have to make economic decisions whenever a student sits down for a 30 minute lesson.

The resources a student brings to the lesson each week are time, talent (innate ability) and motivation. Of these 3 resources, time and motivation are the most important.

Managing these resources is incredibly important to outcomes. That means teachers have to decide what skills and songs do I choose to teach within that short amount of time.

Economists are best at describing what happened. They are not so great at telling you what will happen.

For instance, economists agree that excessive speculation and debt led to the Great Recession of 2008. But they can’t agree how much speculation and debt is ‘too much.’

Teachers know that too much focus on certain skills (e.g technique, sight-reading) leads to a 90% drop-out rate in violin. But there is no consensus on how much is ‘too much.’