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#1762725 - 10/01/11 07:16 AM befriending students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I think this has been discussed before ... I'm just wondering if people still continue the teacher student relationship once they are friends. Has anybody been approached by a student to become friends? And has anybody declined? If so how?

For me, I have friends who work as teachers, and I have never considered them as prospective teachers. However, I have friends who are professionals in other areas - e.g. hair dressing, massage, dentistry. I will pay them their full rates, and if they discount their rates, I will respect that and still pay them in some other way (baking a cake, buying a gift etc). I accept their services because socially in those situations it's not much different ... I do have friends who work as doctors and nurses, but I don't go to them for medical advice and they don't treat me.

The arrangements with my current teachers are quite cordial, but distant enough so that they can be objective. We email often, joke between each other, know tiny bits of each other's personal life, but not enough so that we would be friends (e.g. I know that my teacher is married, with a son and enjoys fishing). The older I become, the less I'm treated as a child and it feels like I'm moving closer to becoming a colleague, even though I am still quite young, its quite a contrast since I'm starting to disagree with my teachers a bit, not in a bad way, more in a interpretation/ questioning the axioms way.

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#1762742 - 10/01/11 07:56 AM Re: befriending students [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10745
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This is an interesting question. I've never approached a friend about taking lessons from them because I've not had friends as piano or voice teachers that I could ask. I don't think I'd hesitate to ask if I thought they really were someone I needed to study with, though.

I have been approached by friends and family members to teach (family & friends present the same issues I think), and I find that usually lessons are sporadic and progress isn't made as much as it would be with a stranger. I'm sure there are exceptions, but this has been my experience. Therefore when a family member or friend I consider it with knowing what will most likely happen and only if there are no other feasible alternatives for the person.

As far as remaining objective, it may be unavoidable. I think of students that I've known for many years and how it is sometimes difficult to do so. This is why it is good for them to play or sing for others who are knowledgable in the field and get feedback. It helps me take a step back, too, and see what I should be focusing on.
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

#1763457 - 10/02/11 03:42 PM Re: befriending students [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Nannerl, it sounds to me that you are mature enough to have a teacher/student relationship with someone that you know otherwise. Unfortunately, the authority of the teacher can be seriously compromised if the student takes everything personally. For this reason, I just don't take on students with whom I have a friendly relationship with (nor their children if I can avoid it.

An example of a relationship that did work with a student who became friendly with me is a woman (whose daughter I also taught) who was quite clear that she respected my expertise, and that was why she was studying with me. Not to get a discount, or just because she knew me (she paid full price, and willingly so). She was a great student in that she genuinely came to me for the right reasons, and was concious of that fact.

I learned the hard way how feathers can be ruffled by asserting instructions to a friend!

Edited by LeaC (10/02/11 03:42 PM)
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

#1763495 - 10/02/11 04:51 PM Re: befriending students [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nikolas Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4991
Loc: Europe

First of all the 'become friends with a teacher', might hide something deeper... No idea if this is true, but it remains that the teacher is someone who holds a little bit of power over the student and that is fascinated!

Personally, I've become friends with quite a few of my teachers, but most are of the same sex as me (male). In fact I'm working and collaborating with a few of those and even more they don't seem to mind me being 20-30 years younger...

So it definitely is doable and there's nothing wrong really...

#1763734 - 10/03/11 04:06 AM Re: befriending students [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
I think it's possible to be friends with your students and your teachers, so long as you're able to compartmentalize the relationships to some extent. For mature and sensible people that should not really be difficult (or so it seems to me).

#1763761 - 10/03/11 06:10 AM Re: befriending students [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I've only just started teaching so it's sort of new to me to be on the other side. I've been through a few teachers, four each, on both instruments. And then there are the teachers in high school and even the ones in primary school. There is a teacher from my primary school who I am now friends with, she goes to my concert and supports my musical endeavours. There is another teacher from my high school who encouraged me to pursue my talent and interest in music and I have his contact details, I call him every so often to tell up about any upcoming gigs he might like to attend, or just to tell him what I'm going to do with my life (studies, musical jobs, etc). There are a few non- music teachers from my high school who I have requested to come to my future recitals.

Having said all of this, there are some teachers who I am glad to never have to see again! Sometimes I think this is the best thing about a professional relationship, you are not under any obligation to see that person again, and you probably never will unless they work in the same institution setting, but thankfully that never happened so far!

Mind you, I have a student, we went to high school together, and then I never saw him again until he inquired about private lessons. We get along very well, and quite recently he has requested that we hang out ... I'm not sure if I should accept ... like I guess there's nothing wrong with it but a tiny part of me feels like it's a bad thing. I'm not really sure why...


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