TOP TEN FOR MASTER TEACHERS
1. KNOW THE VALUE OF PERSONAL ENERGY
Music is energy supported by aural motion. Whether it is the energy the teacher exudes from the podium, or the energy required to sustain a rigorous class schedule, or meet the performance demands, or take care of the organizational obligations, the time-on-task for a music teacher is never-ending and we must face the fact the music teacher SETS THE PACE for all those students who are part of the various ensembles and classes. Our best energy source is: proper diet, ample rest, a personal sense of balance, and a positive approach to our professional mission.
2. EXPRESS APPRECIATION
In every situation we are either appreciating or depreciating our environment, our given climate, the atmosphere around us. When we appreciate a student, a colleague, an administrator, a parent, we lift ourselves as well as the recipient of the acknowledgment. In turn when we depreciate those around us with sarcasm or cynicism we also chip away at our own self-confidence. The successful educators are quick to recognize (and support) individual and group growth and development; simultaneously they are also focusing on areas where improvement is wanted-and-needed. Musical success is an ever-changing combination of positive reinforcement (appreciation) strategically mixed with the never-ending quest for EXCELLENCE.
3. EXEMPLIFY OPTIMISM
Every student wants to be a member of a quality organization. While there are certainly occasions when the rigors-of-learning require a mature and serious approach, the successful teacher always finds victories throughout the process. Music is a language of EXPRESSION that affords the learner to FEEL as well as THINK. To discourage (remove the courage) may push the student away from the goal; whereas encouragement (creating the presence of courage) will oftentimes serve as the needed momentum for the student to embrace the challenges-at-hand. We certainly must avoid FALSE PRAISE, but we can establish an optimistic approach to tackling the curricular objectives.
4. AVOID THE GAME OF COMPARISON
We live in a competitive society, and – like it or not – we have auditions for chair placements, elections for officers, tryouts for guard captains, etc., etc. Despite these built-in traditions, the successful educators focus on intrinsic motivation (the opportunity to learn and to make great music) rather than extrinsic motivation (the chance to score higher than the neighboring school at a festival). If the goal is to reach a high level of musical excellence, then the emphasis is on the process rather than the product, and if the process is supported by the theme of QUALITY MUSIC MAKING, the product/outcome will reflect the investment…and that might show up as a very high evaluation from a panel of adjudicators, or simply a sense of musical achievement from the members of the ensemble, all guided by the music teacher.
5. PUT PEOPLE FIRST
As noted author Stephen Covey says, “Choose to understand before being understood.” Each day we have budding young artists sit in front of us with one burning question in their inquisitive minds,” What will we do in MUSIC class/rehearsal today?” They chose to be in MUSIC because they want to play, to sing, or to dance; they want to EXPRESS. When they sense we are confident about their abilities (as well as our own) and that we CARE for them as fellow musicians, the possibilities are at the limits of our imagination. It’s back to he old adage, “The students don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.” Please indulge a personal editing that would read: “The students want to know how much you CARE and (when they do) they will then care how much you know.”