First day classroom guitar:
Student:” Mr. D., can you play “Eruption” by Eddie Van Halen?”
Mr D.: “Wow, that is a pretty challenging piece! I can’t currently play that, but is it something you are interested in learning how to play?”
Student: “If you can’t play it how are you going to teach me how to play it?”
Mr. D: “While I can’t currently model that particular piece of music, and I don’t have the time to invest in learning it, I am a teacher and I understand the steps and sequence in which we learn. I know how people learn, so if you are interested in investing the time, I can help you to teach yourself how to play it. Along the way I can show you how to master the various steps of the process as well as introduce you to many other techniques and pieces of music that will help you master this particular one.”
If we can think of ourselves – and more importantly – present ourselves as coaches/mentors, this can assist us in “deflecting” what is often perceived as a challenge to our “authority” and/or ability. If you need an analogy, try this one: every highly successful athlete has a coach/mentor. Do Sid Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, (insert your sport/athlete of choice) challenge their coaches to a race down the ice or shootout? Why do these athletes at the top of their fields have a coach/mentor that can’t possibly match their skill level? They recognize that coach/mentors have a depth of knowledge and understanding of the “game” that they themselves do not yet possess.
Thank goodness for YouTube! Here we can go to find Eddie Van Halen, Lennie Breau, John McGlaughlin, Paco de Lucia, Andrea Segovia and others who can model those great skill levels to which we all should aspire. It is far more rewarding to guide a student to these and other fabulous models than it is to be able to mimic them ourselves.
I am teacher – watch me lead!
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