It's no bad thing to be taught. It doesn't mean that the pupil will
inevitably become the master's clone, which would be an understandable fear
for anyone who knows that their talent is fragile. Or it could be a
blessing for a mediocre talent to have something to feed upon -- becoming the
artful parasite. In one way or another it may therefore be highly
beneficial -- and probably even quite essential -- to be taught. Teaching can
curb and tame an undisciplined enthusiasm. It can shed the light of
experience upon situations that flounder for lack of it.
instil confidence and offset depression, but it can just as easily cause
both, either by accident or, more insidiously, by design. Teaching can
hinder progress and suffocate the intrepid spirit. It can be a dangerous
business. But just as it can be hazardous for a pupil to be placed in the
care of a teacher, it can be as treacherous to be the teacher. So much
seems to depend on strength of conviction. A teacher, whether brutally
domineering or gently insistent, is still capable of suffering tunnel
vision, a limited perspective of which he or she may be quite unaware.
There may be bridges over which teachers may refuse to cross; avenues which
they are convinced cannot or should not be explored. Or maybe their
convenient obsessions have made them unaware of other possibilities , and an
unfortunate ignorance drives their pedagogical theories.
There can be more
serious problems, like those associated with a concern to work entirely
within their own technical limitations or artistic experience, attempting to
confine their pupils similarly. It is possible that their pupils too may
develop as subjective operatives, unaware of the impression they create
beyond themselves. The best teachers are always those who might expect to
become redundant. They do not fight the possibility that the pupil may
even become the teacher, but rather try to contribute toward that
possibility by developing a sense of discovery, of shrewd objectivity, and
cultivating an acute perception and re-appraisal of ever-changing
standards. Admiration is given generously when deserved; disciplined
endeavour becomes the route to achievement; and the anathema is envy.
But pupils have a responsibility too. The pupil who despises good teaching and
is unable to cultivate objectivity in assessing musical and technical
standards is destined for no more than fifteen-minute-fame at the very best.
Copyright © 30 November 2004 Patric Standford,