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II - THE TEACHER

The essential qualifications of the teacher are dealt with in numerous books on the Art of Teaching. Briefly stated they are :

1. A thorough knowledge of the subject being taught;

2. Patience ;

3. Perseverance ;

4. Tact ;

5. Enthusiasm ;

6. Punctuality ;

7. The ability to impart knowledge.

Superficially all these would appear to be equally necessary, and certainly the lack of any one of them implies a serious weakness on the part of the teacher. Nevertheless, some are of greater importance than others, as will be seen.

1. It is unnecessary to comment on the absolute necessity of a thorough knowledge of one's subject-the point is self-evident.

2. Students occasionally tell one, " I should never have the patience to teach." To this the reply is, " You never know what you can do until you have tried." By deliberately setting out to be even-tempered and cool, it is surprising how large a stock of patience one can develop. And this must be acquired at all costs. The impatient and quick-tempered teacher will never be a success. If a pupil knows that trivial mistakes are liable to lead to an explosion on the part of the teacher, he will inevitably be nervous at lesson times, and this state of mind will surely lead to poor performance and hence to further explosions. So a vicious circle is created. In the case of children, impatience and shortness of temper are doubly bad. Firstly, a teacher with such faults will tend to turn the child against music. If the music lesson becomes associated in the child's mind with almost inevitably getting into trouble, liking for the subject is certain to be gradually killed. (It is appalling to contemplate the number of potential amateur musicians whose interest has been crushed by the " knuckle-rapping " teachers of past generations.) It is most essential for the teacher to remember that however simple or easy a matter may seem to him or her, it does not necessarily appear so to the child, nor, for that matter, to the untrained adult. Although it is not desirable that he should realise it, inability on the part of the pupil is as often as not the fault of the teacher-insufficient explanation or demonstration, lack of clarity, &c.

Apart from the possibility of permanently crushing any liking for music which the pupil may have, there is also the point to be considered that the child as a rule has no remedy. The adult, if he finds he has a teacher whom he considers undesirable, can transfer to someone else ; but the child who tells his parents that he does not like his teacher, or

To be continued

 

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