Robert Estrin - piano expert

Outgrowing a Music Teacher

Is it possible to outgrow a music teacher? How does this happen?

In this video, Robert gives his perspective and looks at this sensitive issue as honestly as possible.

Released on October 30, 2013

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, and welcome to and I am Robert Estrin. Today we have a question. Can you outgrow your music teacher? Boy, what a question. I'm sure all the teachers out there listening to this are on the edge of your seat wondering what I'm going to say next. Well, I'm going to cover this as honestly as possible for you.

There are actually many reasons why a student may actually outgrow a teacher. Obviously you could think that a student could progress to a point where maybe they play as well as the teacher and need somebody who has more experience to cover new repertoire that maybe the teacher doesn't know.

There are other reasons that are equally important that I'm going to talk about. For example, somebody might be studying an instrument. Maybe they study violin. They have a very good teacher. They go through sonatas and go through Bach and concertos and all of that. Then they get a real bug because they just love fiddling and bluegrass and maybe Irish styles of playing. They talk to their teacher about it, and the teacher absolutely turns her nose down on it and says, "No, we don't do that here." Well, there's an example of a time you may need to find another teacher, not because your teacher is inferior in any way, but your styles that you're wanting to learn and assimilate, the direction you want to go, your teacher isn't on the same path as you want to be on.

It could be of anything. Maybe you're more interested in jazz or sight reading or show tunes or composition. There are a hundred different things. Maybe the teacher you started with was great to get some foundation, but now you're moving in a new direction. You know enough about music to know you need something different, and you want to seek out a different type of teacher.

The first thing I spoke about of actually outgrowing your teacher, it's a sad fact that there are many teachers out there who when they get a really good student they are so proud of them they want to show them off. They don't let go of them when it's time for them to go to another teacher to work further, to get a different perspective, and perhaps work on repertoire that they don't specialize in.

If you find yourself not progressing the way you used to with your teacher, it may not be any fault of your teacher. It could just be a personality thing. The first thing you should do is discuss it with your teacher. Say you really want to learn this music or you feel that there are certain styles or sound that you're not getting out of your instrument, and see if they can direct you to be able to accomplish what it is that you've been missing in your playing. If indeed they can't, then it may very well be time to move on, for whatever reason.

It could be nobody's fault, but you have to be honest with yourself. Find a teacher who can take you to that next level that you want. Whether it is that you outgrow your teacher technically or musically or in terms of repertoire, or you just are exploring new styles, if you find either of these factors, seek out a new teacher. Sometimes it is necessary. If you are learning with your teacher and it's been a good relationship, at least give them the chance to try to carve new ground if you feel you're kind of stuck in a place. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Mike Iltshishin on September 30, 2020 @1:11 pm PST
I pride myself in playing and learning all styles of my instrument (for about 55 years). I LOVE guitar in all its forms (from Rock to Classical, Jazz, Blues, Folk... whatever).
I have never had a student out grow me (and aim to keep it that way). I was self taught for the first 20 years and went to university at age 25 (to see if I was missing anything with no formal education).
Turns out I was told I was already playing at 4th year performance level, but I stuck it out for 3 years and enjoyed the immersion and focus on theory.
I still love my instrument and pride myself on being able to remember what it was to start learning. I am able to help any student in any style at any level get more out of their guitar (beginner to pro)!
Robert - host, on September 30, 2020 @6:30 pm PST
Congratulations on your successful teaching! Sometimes people who have to figure out everything for themselves can offer insights that people who have formal training from a young age may not have.
Mike Iltshishin on October 2, 2020 @2:22 am PST
Thanks Robert!
I just don't think I ever hit a 'rut.' I've always been able to keep myself very busy with things to learn and new input to interpret. I found MY instrument at an early age. I'm thankful for that!
Brigitte * VSM MEMBER * on November 3, 2013 @8:35 am PST
love your comments, Robert. It has been very inspiring. Thank you.
John D'Arcy on November 1, 2013 @5:43 pm PST
Dear Robert,
I enjoyed your talk on outgrowing your teacher. I teach Clarinet and Saxophone in Australia. When I take on a new student, I let them know that I will only teach them up to grade 5 (AMEB). After that I will help them seek out a new teacher, and I am friends with quite a few excellent teachers. The reason I do this is so that we do not get stale in our technique and skills.
Thank you for your insights.
Garry Corbett * VSM MEMBER * on October 30, 2013 @11:43 am PST
As usual, virtually all your videos have super value to any of your students educations. Thank you so very much ! Because of living in an apartment, only a digital piano keyboard is feasible, however there are several grand pianos at church which I can use at any time. For about the last year, I've been playing the keyboard while listening to hymns on the ipod with great progress and results. This is good, because I was in a rut using Bb or Ab by ear for everything. I'm 67 yrs old and reading music is becoming strainful. Many thanks again for your lessons and congratulations for the success of your videos.

Take Care ! Have Fun !

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