On having a look at the statistics for my blog, my eye fell on “top searches” where I found this rather touching question: “Do I have the right personality to teach music?” I can’t help but imagine some terrified young musician who has been offered the chance to give music lessons but who has crippling self-doubt. This post is addressed to that searcher.
Dear Worried Teacher,
Welcome to the club! The fact that you are even asking this question is extremely positive. It means that you have some doubts about your suitability to teach and that you are willing to examine yourself. You are right to be scared – teachers have a tremendous amount of power and potential to do serious harm to our charges. But, not to worry. You’ve got the right personality. How do I know this?
Because there there IS no right personality.
There is, however, right motivation and right attitude. If you have these, then your personality will modify itself to implement these these two essential qualities, which are bigger than you are. Remember, personality is a tool we use to exist in this world. It is a tendency that is given to us at birth which we can temporarily change and modify according to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. And you have already spent a lot of time learning to do this in order to interpret the music you play.
Right motivation: This is something all teachers should reflect on: why we do what we do. And I don’t mean reflect on it at the beginning of our careers. I mean on every single day and in every single lesson that this should be in the back or even the front of our minds. It’s what keeps us honest and on track. What is the right motivation? To do no harm and do what’s right for the student, not for yourself. This can be a toughie. For example: am I sending that student to a competition so that I will be recognized for the awesome teacher I am or because the student really needs that experience? Or both? Reflect, reflect and your personality won’t matter.
Right attitude: That I will do whatever is necessary to help my student achieve what he wants (whether or not he knows what that is yet), even if it means altering my normally sunny and pleasant disposition to snarly if that’s what my student needs in that moment (and these occasions really do arise, trust me). Or vice versa.
Thus, I’m sure you can look at 20 good teachers and find 20 completely different personalities. In fact if you are looking at only one good teacher in action, you may see 20 different personalities! So what do they all these different teachers and diverse personalities have in common? What brings them to have right motivation and right attitude? Continue reading