A Music Mentor?
It may seem odd, but it’s not enough to be a teacher or an educator. In and of itself, teaching and educating is inspirational and praiseworthy (we might even say note-worthy), but to effectively teach, educate, and perpetuate the desire to continually progress and improve, requires mentoring – both as a mentor and in being mentored by mentors of our own. We must continually learn and grow and not only teach, but we must be taught on a regular and consistent basis.
There is an interesting parallel between mentoring and success. Teaching can be done (and somewhat effectively) without much mentoring, but learning and wanting to continually progress cannot exist without mentoring.
We are all mentors! As a mentor, we must do everything with the attitude of leading by example. Telling someone to do something we personally would not do or have not done in a while or at all, but think is a good idea for those we mentor is a false form of teaching and mentoring. We are telling those we mentor that we want them to do as we say and not as we do. We convey the attitude that we may have learned this skill or performed this technique when we were younger, but no longer feel the need to continue because we perfectly demonstrate that we are textbook teachers in word only and not doers (this of course does not apply if we are not physically capable of doing what we did when we were younger because of physical limitations with our bodies).
As mentors, we must use every means available – both conventional and non-conventional – to make a difference in the lives of the individuals we mentor. We must be examples and role models not only in what we say, but also in what we do. We must push those we mentor to continually be better, do more, learn more, try more, and even fail more (yes, I said fail more).
People are too afraid of failure. It prohibits them from progressing because the fear of failure prevents them from being productive. It instigates procrastination because, as a whole, we would rather continually put off what we fear doing and do nothing than fail or appear to be less than perfect in any area. We value our performance and fear giving a less than perfect performance regardless of what it is, or is not. Failure is merely a stepping stone to success – a way to turn our failures into strengths.
As mentors we must also not be afraid to show those we mentor our weaknesses and our limitations. We must not convey the perception of perfection because even though we mentor others, we are not true mentors unless we are learning and being mentored by our own mentors in the process.
Being a mentor is life changing. Those who have been mentored realize the importance of mentoring. We must think of ourselves as a teacher regardless of what we teach. A coach views himself or herself as someone who coaches an individual or a team to focus on the main objective (playing the game and winning). As mentors, we help those we mentor focus on playing the game of life. We may use our talent or mastery of a particular instrument as a means to help them, but we are giving them much more than a musical talent. We may say we are piano teachers, voice teachers, violin teachers, guitar teachers, and any other “instrument” teacher available, but we do not merely teach them how to play an instrument. We teach discipline, self mastery, practice habits, conditioning, dedication, goal setting and achieving, determination, confidence, strength training, optimism, perseverance, self worth, and every other worthy and uplifting attitude and aptitude. We are helping them be the very best they can be. We use an instrument as our vehicle to help them master a skill, develop a talent, and get in touch with their musical side.
I personally refer to myself as a Music Mentor, and refer to other music teachers as such. Here is a statement I wrote that I read to each of my music students when they first begin taking music lessons with me:
If you come to piano lessons each week and walk away from your lessons and only learn about music notation, rhythm, and dots on a page, then I have failed as a Music Mentor. Life lessons are just as important, if not more important, than music lessons. I would rather have you learn more about goal setting and achieving, character, dedication, and personal improvement. To have you learn to love music, appreciate it, and play it, is a wonderful byproduct you will have for the rest of your life – a talent that will enrich your life and the lives of others. To become a better musician is wonderful and important, but to become a better person is more important.
As a Music Mentor I want to mentor students to be the very best they can be. If you choose not to practice, you essentially choose not to improve. This is true in any area of life. Everyone has the same amount of time allotted to them. What you choose to do with your time, and where you spend your time, has little to do with the activities being done and more to do with the value attached to each activity.
I believe it’s important to be well-rounded and have many diverse interests. I want students to enjoy music, to learn to be creative and understand how to express themselves musically – either by creating music of their own, or interpreting the music of others – by arranging and improvising well known music. In addition, I encourage students to play sports, dance, sing, draw, read, and develop their talents. I want them to be more than musicians, I want them to learn to become well-rounded complete individuals.
Above all, I want everyone to continually improve and do their best no matter what they do or choose to do. I encourage everyone to set goals, dream big, and be the best they can be in whatever they choose to do. Life is full of wonderful choices. Choose the best out of life and learn as much as you can from everyone – everywhere. I prefer being called a Music Mentor because I want to mentor others and help them to live their dreams.
Your life is your musical symphony. Make it a masterpiece!