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Be the Example



Have you ever been in awe of a mentor who enriched your life for the better? Someone who was supportive, patient, encouraging, and highly professional? Someone who excellently led by example, and someone who helped inspire your path in music? If you had an instructor or music mentor who influenced your life in this way, then you know just how inspiring such a person can be. This individual likely went beyond teaching different topics in music, sharing lessons and insights about life that proved invaluable. These are the individuals we call our master teachers. They go above and beyond quite naturally and effortlessly set the bar high for others. They are highly respected by their peers and students, always making people feel welcomed, comfortable, and respected.

 

Perhaps you have also encountered an instructor who was completely the opposite? Unfortunately, those individuals are certainly out there, people who don’t seem to truly be invested in their students, but perhaps more concerned with their own personal vanity and a paycheck. Often, these individuals lack integrity, demonstrating an inability to get along with other staff members, and can be blatantly abusive to their students. Interestingly, they don’t seem to realize that students are always watching. Moreover, students know when they are being manipulated and how they or their classmates are being treated. The problem is, more often than not, students do not speak up about this type of treatment and feel helpless—looking the other way for fear of being a whistleblower, causing a stir, and possible retaliation. Understandably, students want to focus on their studies, graduate, and steer clear of drama that is unfairly being imposed upon them. These situations are far too common in institutions and, sadly, can go on for years.

 

Interestingly enough, both types—incredible instructors and questionable instructors—actually do “benefit” us one way or another. They are helpful for shaping our ideas on how to be and how not to be—especially with our students and colleagues. Instructors can embody a sense of commitment and community on the one hand, or a sense of chaos and continuous drama on the other. They either have an even temperament that people can depend upon or leave people wondering what “version” of treatment others will witness that day.

 

Whether instructors are incredible or questionable, their influence is surely lasting. Many in the performing arts will end up teaching others whether it be at an institution, privately, through an organization, or something else. That being said, have you recently considered which version of influence you have become? When you work in your circles, whether you are a seasoned professional in an organization where you’ve worked for many years, or someone starting a position in a new location, or perhaps a student working with underclassmen, how you manage your professional relationships will directly affect your reputation. Will others see you as someone who is enjoyable to communicate and work with and someone who inspires others, or will they see you as someone who is uncooperative, self-centered, and confrontational?

 

The type of self-assessment needed to answer this question is neither easy nor quick because it requires a self-awareness that may take years of conscientious effort. You can start by honestly seeking to know how others perceive you. You can elicit feedback by simply asking them genuine questions. If doing so seems too daunting, another tactic is to examine your own feelings. Are you open to other points of view, or do you often dismiss any viewpoint but your own as incorrect? Consider how your actions come across to others. Are you a positive example? Although not everyone strives to become a master teacher, being an example of the same care and courtesy that your own master teachers showed you will certainly benefit others. Becoming the best version of yourself is certainly something worthwhile to strive for. You may even surprise yourself and become one of those individuals who is considered by students and colleagues as someone who is genuinely professional, a team player, courteous, and a positive influence in their life. What an excellent example.

 

For more information on this topic, visit How Are You Serving? 

 

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