Full-time vs traveling teachers

<p>This question is kind of a spin-off of woodwind's question about grad students teaching at conservatories. </p>

<p>This summer, at one of the opera programs I attended, we were told to be cautious of schools where grad students taught, and where teachers traveled often. They told us to be careful of big schools where teachers travel so much that they have to give all of their lessons in a short amount of time, and told us to try and look at schools with full time faculty. Which schools fall into the category of absent teachers and grad students for voice? Which schools do have full time faculty? Based on what I've seen (I think the Classical Singer college guide) most schools don't advertise a great amount of full time faculty. What is the balance... like how much travel is too much for a prospective teacher? I feel like it may be unrealistic to only look at schools with full time faculty. </p>

<p>Thanks in advance!</p>

<p>This is crazy I had the same question a week ago! I looked this up on a lot of schools websites and it appears that the following schools have entirely or almost all full time voice faculty:</p>

<p>Rice, Eastman, Indiana, and University of Maryland.</p>

<p>These are just schools that I was looking into auditioning at so there are definitely more. However I also found that the following have faculty that are in and out a lot of the time:</p>

<p>Juilliard, Curtis, MSM, Bard, Mannes (basically the new york area schools)</p>

<p>Full time faculty and traveling are not mutually exclusive terms. A full time faculty member can still be traveling. This is different from an adjunct who travels from school to school and is not available during the week. </p>

<p>DD’s best friend had her lessons with a full time faculty member who still performed. The teacher tried to make sure the schedule did not interfere too much and made up the lessons so that all were done. However, some were bunched up in time. Grad students sometimes took over the studio class when she was gone. DD’s friend still flourished. </p>

<p>DD on the other hand had a retired performer who no longer traveled. She rarely missed lessons except for unusual circumstances and those were made up. DD flourished better with the regular weekly interaction with the teacher. 2 teachers and 2 students with different styles but both flourished. </p>

<p>What is most important is for the student to understand what they need and what they get from the teacher. How much is too much for one is not a problem for another.</p>

<p>To further complicate the picture: you may not always know who is FT and who is PT, even after asking, just because things change and info doesn’t trickle down to students/parents.
And problems occur when faculty members either have no time management skills or are greedy when it comes to skimming students off at audition time. Having more students than there are teaching hours available means that some students will not get the requisite number of lessons on time. If a teacher has clear favorites those students may get “extra” time, running well into the scheduled lesson of those further down on the popularity scale. Sometimes that can be just the result of a more advanced student requiring more time before auditions, etc, but if it becomes a regular occurrence it’s easy for a younger student to get short-changed.
For singers, regular lessons are especially important to avoid vocal strain, muscle memory problems or having to cram too much singing into too little time, but, as Singersmom07 pointed out, what’s right for one is not necessarily right for another.</p>

<p>Unpleasant situations can occur, and at any type of school, despite all of the careful research you do in advance of application. Things change with new staff or administration and radical shifts in programs can occur over the course of a summer without anything being communicated to the current students. I would suspect that this would be more likely to happen in programs with fewer students and faculty members.
While most students will find the right “fit” to begin with, I would caution those who get caught in situation that just does not work for them to try to work it out, but to be prepared to transfer before they get so far into the program that an extra year or two might be needed to complete the degree requirements. That means knowing the theory/language/diction/ music history sequence and what years one is required to present a recital.</p>

<p>Don’t know that I would choose a school based on full or part time; rather, ask how they handle absences.</p>

<p>Juilliard has almost no full-time instrumental teachers (don’t know about piano or voice). They are all performers. And yes, sometimes they travel with their orchestras or their solo career. </p>

<p>The way it was handled varied. The student is guaranteed a set number of lessons, and none of them are taught by grad students. So, most of the times, a lesson is scheduled around the traveling. If the teacher will be gone for a couple weeks in a row, another teacher may pick up the slack. A couple times during his six years at Juilliard, S’s make-up lesson was a master class. Or they hire a sub. Their subs are not to be sneered at. My S had sub lessons from (other) members of the New York Phil. </p>

<p>True story: My S recently played principal on a performance of Tchaik 5. There was a high level orchestra manager in the audience that night, who commented to someone else (and it got back to my S) that S played it “better than Phil Myers.” Phil Myers, principal of NY Phil, was the “substitute” teacher who taught my S how to play it. Tchaik 5 is his signature piece, and after the lesson, my S had commented to me that he never needed another lesson on that piece, as Phil Myers had taught him so much.</p>

<p>Of course, every school handles it differently. Prior to college, my S ran into a group of horn students from Michigan who complained that their then (not longer there) teacher was gone a lot and they were having lots of lessons with grad students. Michigan had been on my S’s list, as he greatly admired that teacher, and he removed it at that point. (Caveat - this was a long time ago, and there is another great horn teacher there now. No idea how it works now.)</p>

<p>And one more story: At my D’s school, the teachers are full-time. In order to reach full-time hours, many of the teachers teach other music classes along with the private studio. She did not find her teacher to be any more or less accessible than S did. And her teacher did travel occasionally as well. Make-ups were done around his schedule. No grad students teaching music majors. Students wishing to have lessons who were not part of the music department, though, may be given grad students as teachers.</p>

<p>Point is, ask.</p>

<p>The Perlman TA that Musicprnt mentions in his post was my daughter’s teacher in the precollege. No grad student, she is a full-fledged professional with fantastic performance credentials, and she is a terrific pedagogue. She did get a studio in the college this year, and my daughter (with both teachers’ blessings and an okay from the Dean) is now in a split studio with both her and her wonderful teacher from last year. Both travel and perform, so she will have a few lessons with their TAs (who are full-fledged professionals in their own rights.) All of this gives her ample opportunity for different (but complementary) perspectives on her work. That suits her, whereas I can imagine another student might prefer to hear feedback from a single source.</p>

<p>Also, regarding grad students: my daughter has occasionally paid a DMA or even MM student in her teacher’s studio for a lesson on the side. She would use the lesson work on, for example, excerpts that she feels she could use extra help with but doesn’t want eating up lesson time. Grad students don’t charge nearly as much as a faculty member and can have a lot to offer. Of course she would not want a grad student as her primary teacher at this point; I mention this idea as a side topic.</p>

<p>I agree that it isn’t as much full time teacher as accessibility and how diligent the teacher is in making sure their student gets what they need and full time and part time may not necessarily mean what you think.</p>

<p>For example, full time teachers at a program can also teach elsewhere, they also prob have private students as well, and can overbook their time as easily as a full time teacher would. Likewise, a full time teacher at school X might still do gig work or other performing, and could be in the same boat…</p>

<p>With P/T teachers, who are also performers, things can come up, and if they have a full load of students, it can cause problems. I can’t speak for a wide range of teachers, but it is why, for example, people like Jimmy Lin (violin soloist/performer, also teaches at Juilliard and other places) take so few students…because they know their time is limited.</p>

<p>As has been talked on on here since time immemorial, it is why it is so important I feel to research a teacher as well as a program. There are teachers who are active performers who are very conscientious of their students needs and go out of their way to make sure the student is covered (and as GlassHarmonica, myself and some others have said, TA’s are not necessarily some grad student like you would find in UG academic courses, many of them are quite excellent teachers) and quite honestly there are full time teachers out there (least from what I hear) who are stretched thin and don’t seem to care as much about their students…or do but are stretched thin.</p>

<p>The other question is to ask yourself what the potential teacher brings. Yes, having a teacher who performs can be a problem, if they are away a lot and don’t have much time with the student, but that is about the teacher…and think about what that teacher might bring a student, with knowledge of what is out there, what it means to perform today, get gigs, etc…as opposed to some teachers I have heard/read about, who not only aren’t performers, may not have picked up their instrument in years, yet they are ‘full time’…which would a student be better with?</p>

<p>It is like looking at a program, it is finding a fit that works, and a lot goes into it. A FT teacher at a program may be a clunk (or simply not a fit), a PT who is balancing performing and teaching might be a mind blower;)</p>

<p>musicprnt brings up a good point. A teacher who travels a bit could have a tremendous number of contacts in this country and possibly around the world, especially if they are well- liked and well-respected. I would imagine that these contacts would also more easily allow a teacher to bring in outside teachers for master classes. As long as missed lessons are made up and close contact is kept with the students,this type of situation could be quite advantagious to a student, especially come time for grad school.</p>