(To continue from The Four Qualities of a Great Mentor (Part I) )
What does it mean to be a mentor?
In the last post, I discussed about my role as a mentor for piano teachers and piano students and that there are four qualities a great mentor must possess: inform, encourage, empower and inspire. I have written about the first two qualities then. In this post, I shall continue to discuss the other two qualities.
I realise the reason why some students are so scared of taking on new challenges, whether it be learning a new piece or playing for other people: it is because they haven’t tasted the sweetness of success.
Scientific studies show that five positive experiences are required for a person to forget about one negative experiences. Our human brains are in fact wired to be so alert of mistakes and dangers, that this original good intention of our self-protective mechanism to prevent us from getting into dangerous or even life-threatening situation is however not helpful in encouraging us to take risks, step out of our comfort zones and progress.
I therefore decided to create more “mini-situations” for students to achieve some small successes before venturing into more serous situations with bigger successes. For instance, I would ask a couple students who know each other better in my studio (meaning my own students not the whole school) to play for each other (“super mini- situation”), before playing for other students in music gathering (“mini-situation”) and for other guest teacher in the upcoming masterclass (“a little bigger than mini situation”).
Gaining small successes help students to keep on trying, knowing that they have achieved something and are not afraid to try new challenges and bigger successes.
Successes stem from failures, and small successes lead to bigger successes.
I believe one of the most essential qualities of a great mentor is to inspire, to possess such capacity of helping her students to see and believe what they can achieve and who they can become in the future even when it seems far fetched right for them now. And in order to do so, the mentor must try many different ways in action and in speech – sometimes with seemingly radical or unfamiliar methods to her students. One can learn new things from almost any source if s/he is serious about learning and improving at the piano. And therefore one can learn how to teach better and be more inspirational by gaining new insights in anything one reads, touches, feels, smells and sees .
Music is inseparable from our daily lives, even when what we learn is classical music. One can understand how one piano technique is improved by observing own action and actions of others on the street. One can get more ideas of musical expression by gaining inspiration from a movie or a piece of music of another genre than classical one.
The possibility is endless, and only the sky is the limit. Whether we can learn or not is up to us giving ourselves boundaries and limitations. Whether we can achieve what we want to achieve is up to us wanting it and doing something about it.
I hope you as teachers, students and parents all have gained some knowledge and insights in these couple posts and all the post I have written so far, because it has been my mission to do so.