There are many different kinds of teachers. At the Riley School of Irish Music, my first teacher was Simone, who at the time was only 14. Although I have now outgrown her class and have moved up a level, I still look to her for musical tidbits, suggestions and nuances to make my own playing better. I hope that someday my playing has half the skill and soul that hers does. With my move to the more advanced class, I have had the great fortune of meeting each week with John Skelton, who is not only an incredible whistle, flute and pipes player, but an inspirational teacher as well. I leave his classes, just as I did Simone’s, feeling capable; hopeful in my own ability to pick things up and improve. This is the magic of a good teacher.
Another talented teacher I know is my friend and fellow artist Lisa Siders. I have never taken a class of Lisa’s but she and I have had many chats about teaching philosophy and I have looked to her recently for guidance in structuring my own class at the Art Academy. She also has taught me more skills than I can count simply in passing or in working together. I can only imagine how inspired her students are and hope I can achieve that same level of teaching magic myself.
Today we went for a frigid walk in the woods near our house. It was the first time the pups had been in an off leash situation and so I was hopeful that Caskie would be able to guide them in the proper walk protocol; i.e.- not running away into the woods. Although I was a little on guard, I trusted my instincts and let the lot of them off their leashes and began to walk. My doggie intuition about Caskie paid off. He came to me whenever I asked him to… so did the puppies. He “waited up” whenever I asked him to… soon the puppies were doing the same. They were looking to him for cues in this new situation and he was being a good teacher.
Teachers, and learners, can be found everywhere, if we are open to being a teacher or a learner ourselves. I learned as much in art school from my fellow students and friends as I did from the many wonderful professors I was fortunate to have. My hope is that in the coming weeks, as I head into the classroom as teacher, I will also have the open mind of a learner. Then, just maybe, I’ll be as inspirational a teacher as the teachers I have known in my life.