(Originally posted 6/2/2017)

There is not one correct manner in which to teach, but rather a diverse series of paths leading to the same result; great musicianship unhindered by technical ineptitude. This, being the ultimate goal of every performer, should become the focus of teaching regardless the path. Since the burden of execution falls on the student, the teachers job becomes instructing the thinking habits of each student according to their ability. In many ways, asking leading questions requiring that students think outside the realm of their preconceived ideas becomes an ideal vessel for instruction. The answers to strategically placed questions will enable students to address problems, technical and musical, without the constant presence of the teacher. 

In many ways, perfecting an instrument is akin to a puzzle tailored to each individual. Part of the teachers responsibility is to find the pieces and point them out, while enabling the student to polish and assemble them to become a great musician. The student will need help perfecting techniques and musical ideas, so the teacher must be patient and guide the student through the process by assigning routine work, etudes, solos, and excerpts that facilitate their individual learning. In some cases, this means bringing the student back to the most elementary of lessons regardless of age or experience. This ensures that new, fruitful habits form and grow into effortless technique, gradually replacing useless habits. 

Students, you have the responsibility to seek out great teachers, who may not always be the best performers. While there is a correlation between great performing and great teaching, some performers should not teach. 

eachers, your responsibility regarding your students is great and should be taken seriously. It is a practiced and learned skill that must be perfected over time and held to the highest standards. Each word and action bears a consequence, good or bad, and must be carefully considered. Teaching is greatly rewarding, but should be reserved for those who are able to devote time to learning its secrets.

Philip Hembree