My Reputation Is Not Your Responsibility
I’ve been teaching trumpet lessons very successfully for thirty-three years now. I feel confident enough in my reputation as a teacher, as a musician and as a composer, that I do not need to use my students as pawns to boost my own reputation. And I believe that this confidence has influenced the way I teach.
It is common for people to ask, when they first approach me for lessons, if they (or their child) are good enough for me to teach them. It’s as if they assume that I have very high standards and won’t take just anyone on as a student.
The truth is that I do have high standards, but not when it comes to your current musicianship. You don’t need to be “good enough” to take lessons from me. My entire job is based on taking you from wherever you are now in your playing to where you want to go. That’s it.
What If I’m a Terrible Player?
Guess what… I LOVE teaching terrible players. I love teaching beginners. I love working with students who have room to grow and have open minds about how to do it. If you feel like you are a terrible trumpet player, that you are not worth any good teacher’s time and effort, think again! I readily accept any challenge as a teacher and welcome you into my studio with enthusiasm.
If you think you are a bad player, the first thing I’m going to do is work with you to help you see your own potential. Then I’m going to use my experience as a teacher to help you establish a plan of action, a strategy to help you get where you want to go.
Your Goals, Not Mine
I have written about this many times on this blog and all over the internet. As my student, we will work together towards YOUR goals, not the goals I want you to achieve. This is one of the most significant ways that my confidence as a teacher has influenced my teaching.
I don’t need for you to make All-State if that’s not your goal! I don’t need for you to get a one on your solo if that’s not what you want to accomplish in your trumpet playing. I don’t need for you to play at a professional level if you have no desire to be a pro.
Yes, there are people who judge teachers by the performances of their students. They think if John Doe has four All-State trumpet students, then he must be a very good teacher. But if he doesn’t have any All-State students, then he must not be as good as the teacher who has four. That’s what some people think.
But I am more concerned about what YOU (my student) have to say about my teaching than I am about what other people have to say about you. If you came to me to learn something, and I helped you reach that goal, and you are happy with your progress, then that’s enough for me.
So I’ll say it again, my reputation as a teacher is not your responsibility. Yes, I will teach you no matter how bad you think you are now and no matter how unimportant your personal goals may seem to other people. I am here for you, not the other way around.