What makes a talented teacher

Throughout my 20 years of teaching music I learned that there are gifted teachers as there are gifted students and gifted people as well.

Teaching is a talent that requires absolute love and dedication, full commitment, methodology, constant curriculum planning and review, ongoing research and assessment, endless experimentation, a very open mind, great flexibility, and communication skills.

It is important that the teacher relates perfectly with his students.

This relation will later become link, association, inspiration, motivation, love, passion, and -perhaps- obsession.

All of the above qualities combined can transform children, adolescents and adults into lifelong students.

But it takes a lot of love, sacrifice, perseverance and talent to do this.

The teacher has to be a life-time student and learner himself.

He has to, constantly ask questions and challenge his knowledge.

Only then he can inspire his students to follow his path and be life-time learners.

And I’m not referring to the didactic aspect of learning, but the holistic impact of it to the human intellect, spirit, behavior and personality.

Learning that is not tightly integrated to every aspect of life is useless.

At this point I have to mention the distinguished soloist, Juilliard graduate and my lifelong mentor, Danae Kara.

She taught me that the charismatic teacher is a lifetime student and learner himself.

She taught me how to approach students of all ages (infants, children, adolescents, adults, etc.) in an open and impartial manner.

She taught me the value of ultimate flexibility and freedom of choice.

She taught me how to maximize one’s individual potential and how to extract his best qualities, not only the musical ones, but most importantly the spiritual, intellectual and behavioral. Without these qualities music teaching (or any teaching indeed) is completely meaningless.

She taught me how to distill all my training education, working and life experience, revisions and experimentation into one holistic approach and teaching philosophy.

She taught me that, a teacher ever ages; he becomes a child when teaching a child, he becomes a teenager when teaching a teenager, he,becomes an adult when teaching an adult.

She taught me that a teacher has to be simple, humble, pure and unselfish, a poet, a philosopher, someone who molds and morphs the moral, spirit, character and personality of his students.

She taught me that a teacher must be both an educator and an,instructor, because without the first one cannot realize the second and thus the student remains incomplete throughout his life.

Finally, I think the major contribution of a talented teacher is to unleash to the world a worthy, competent and complete human being. This is a life’s work of course, and the best reward there is.

I quote the words of Aristotle to his pupil Alexander the Great: “and remember the real teacher is twice a parent, for he loves a child who is not his, he becomes one with it and he dedicates his life to cultivate the child cognitively and instructively as well as spiritually and mentally.”