Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

Violin teachers as farmers

My work as a violin teacher feels like slow-motion farming.

Here are a few similarities:

Growing Cycle: When a child starts violin lessons, it will be years be years before we see the results.

Yield: It is not enough to have one enormous stalk of corn and the rest of the field wither away. Success is having an entire field of healthy corn at the end of the season.

Soil conditions: It is hard to grow anything if the soil is lacking the necessary nutrients. In music, community is the soil we grow our musicians. When a student is connected to a musical community, they have the very best chances of thriving.

Fertilizers: Farmers can make up for a lack of soil quality by putting fertilizers on the plants. But the negative effects are often hidden and difficult to reverse. In music, teachers like to add supplements, like competition, into the soil. It is a proven way to speed growth in students. But the long-term consequences can be quietly injurious. It is better to start with healthy soil.

Rotating crops: Farmers know to not keep planting the same crop year after year. It robs the soil of nutrients. In music, staying on one type of music has the same effect. Students benefit from the change between different styles because each style requires some ‘nutrients’ more than others. (e.g. All classical, all the time, often deletes students of patience before they see the results of their effort. All Irish, all the time, causes many students to feel bored.)

Job satisfaction: Like many farmers I know, I can’t imagine better work.