If you had to choose ONE word to describe yourself professionally what would it be?
A fair bit of discussion on Facebook followed yesterday's blog post about the instrumental music teaching profession being unregulated. A few more thoughts...
The reason I am concerned that instrumental music teaching is unregulated is because it is potentially open to child abusers and charlatans - not because I think teachers should necessarily have particular qualifications in order to teach effectively.
Until recently I relied entirely upon 'word of mouth' recommendations for advertising. I have always had as full a teaching timetable as I have wished for and would be happy to continue on a 'word of mouth' basis. This is the most important form of advertising - being told by a trusted and knowledgeable friend that a teacher is 'good'. I hold this form of advertising above everything else (depending on the person recommending!!). When looking for a teacher for my own children I look for someone who has been recommended by someone I trust with track record demonstrating that they are effective and who is friendly, articulate, encouraging and affable.
I am 'more qualified' as a French horn teacher than as a piano teacher. However, I feel most confident with piano teaching and think I'm a better piano teacher than horn teacher. There are a few reasons for this:
1. I am a better horn player than pianist! I get by on the piano. I'm OK. But I'm not brilliant. I have had to face far more challenges on the piano than on the French horn. I have had to learn and work out how to achieve the effects I am after, and how to master technical challenges. These things come more naturally to me on the horn and I find it much more difficult to explain them to others. On the piano I've worked hard to rationalise the skills I have acquired.
2. I have a great deal more experience as a piano teacher than a French horn teacher.
3. I am working towards a piano diploma. As I say - I am more qualified on the French horn! I love my lessons and the pieces I am learning but it is a huge challenge. Being in the position of student helps me teach! I don't have to imagine / remember what it's like to be the pupil - I have that experience every day and that informs my teaching.
4. I am only just beginning to explore some aspects of piano playing and musicianship. Until recently I shied away from improvisation, playing by ear and rote learning. I now see enormous value in these skills. For example, if you can improvise well, it helps with sight-reading and accompanying. Playing by ear helps you to engage all your senses in your playing. Rote learning helps beginners develop concentration skills and technical skills... These fresh perspectives breathe new life into my teaching (though not only my piano teaching...)
If you had to choose ONE word to describe yourself professionally, what would it be? If I made a little word bank to select from it would include PERFORMER, MUSICIAN, WORKSHOP LEADER, HORN PLAYER, PIANIST, ACCOMPANIST. But I wouldn't choose any of these.
I am, first and foremost, an EDUCATOR, a TEACHER. I love teaching! It's what makes me come alive!