Erin, who hasn't been willing to work with me on violin since she was about 8, has outgrown my level of teaching experience anyway. And, over the past couple of years she's outgrown my mom's level of experience. My mom is over 70 and probably ready to cut back her teaching in any event. There is an excellent violin teacher in Nelson, and we'd always planned that the kids would move on to her when they got to the Grade 9-10 level. We finally got Erin talked into making the switch last fall. She was a little reluctant to make the move into what she felt to be "the big[ger] time", but she was pretty sure the time had come. It took her two or three months to warm up to W., but eventually she did and by January things were starting to click. She dived into the Grade 10 repertoire and had made a pile of progress with her intonation and bowing technique.
In February W's husband was diagnosed with cancer. And today she told us that because of this she's decided to retire early. Effective next week. Chemotherapy and all those unknowns ....
Now what? There's a teacher 4 hours from here who has experience at this level, but having worked with him and watched him teach during the summers, we don't really get the right vibes from him, socially or musically. Beyond that, we're looking at an 8-hour drive. Calgary or Vancouver. Video-conferencing is not an option. The internet just isn't up to the task, and unless we can afford a $20,000 video-conference setup and a dedicated fibre-optic line, we're out of luck. I've taught video-tape-through-the-mail lessons, and they stink. There's no real-time feedback, and it's really hard to get good-enough quality audio for the details of high-level instruction.
I honestly can't see sacrificing the well-being of the younger members of this family in order to do a biweekly or monthly drive to Calgary. At least not based on what I see of Erin's drive and maturity at this point. I've asked Erin to have a serious think about whether she would be willing to just focus on piano and keep violin on the side as a hobby. She's playing in my quartet, she plays in our community orchestra, she plays at group classes. She's never been one to do more than the bare minimum of violin work required to go to a lesson without totally disgracing herself. She does think carefully and musically about her playing in a lesson situation, and this compensates to some extent for the lack of actual woodshedding, but these days it doesn't compensate as much as it used to. Maybe she just isn't driven enough to take the violin to the next level, under what will be less-than-ideal circumstances (inexperienced teacher, or infrequent lessons). Maybe she is driven enough -- in which case she needs to come to terms with her personal committment to violin. Does she really want to actively and seriously pursue it? If so we'll figure out what we can do, and perhaps we can find some manageable sacrifices.
Truth be told, we'll be facing similar issues with Noah in three years or so. Even though he's less advanced than Erin was at his age, because he's a violist rather than a violinist he will exhaust the local expertise sooner.