April 27, 2017

A Good Teacher

It does not follow because one is highly educated, that he is what may be termed a good teacher. The good teacher is the educated person who is versatile and broad-minded in dealing with different pupils. The mental calibre and physical organization of pupils are vastly varied, and to be a good teacher one must appreciate these peculiarities, and adapt himself according.

Many pupils, especially female pupils, are exceedingly timid and nervous, and any exhibition of impatience or impetuosity on the part of the teacher disconcerts them. Yet there are teachers who fail to discriminate differences, or ignore them, and bluntly, sometimes even coarsely, attempt to correct their faults. Such teachers cannot be too strongly censured. The pupil, while endeavoring to do her utmost to correct her faults, feels this rude treatment keenly, and frequently through agitation and nervousness, makes matters worse, and the lesson is a failure.

The teacher who brings about such results, no matter how highly educated he may be, cannot properly be termed a good teacher. The good teacher, while correcting every fault, would do so calmly, and with quiet earnestness and dignity, making the lesson profitable and pleasant.

Some pupils need encouragement, the good teacher will judicially give it. A pupil of this kind will advance far more rapidly by this mode of instruction, than by being constantly found fault with, without one uplifting word of hope and commendation. Then there is the impatient, impetuous pupil. To get angry with such a pupil would only “add fuel to the flames.” The good teacher would never do this. A calm, straight-forward demeanor, would be a far more rational and successful mode of dealing with such an absurd peculiarity. Again, there is the conceited, egotistical, self-opinionated pupil. Every teacher is aware that a pupil of this nature can never succeed until this absurd trait has been eliminated. Such pupils generally desire to sing compositions far beyond their ability. The good teacher, by a little diplomacy, can easily cure such a pupil of this ridiculous individuality. From time to time it might be well to give him with proper criticism an aria such as he desires. The pupil would soon find that his musical aspirations were far beyond his knowledge and comprehension and thus cure himself. Such a pupil should be made to realize that person is more unpopular among musicians than one full of conceit. There are students who attempt to select their own repertoires. The good teacher will never permit this in an amateur pupil, knowing full well that the pupil can be no judge of his musical needs.

If one cannot deal diplomatically with his pupils, if he cannot be polite and patient, he had better not attempt to teach. It is easy to say pupils should not give way to these idiosyncrasies, but such natures exist, and always will until the millennium, and they must be met. The good teacher will meet these individualities patiently. He will deal with them skilfully, teach earnestly, having constantly in mind to do and say that which will be of most value for that particular pupil.

The well-poised teacher is always judicious, courteous, earnest, faithful and conscientious. One possessing these qualifications, with a sound musical education, may deservedly be considered—“a good teacher.”

Harry J. Wheeler, "Some Characteristics of a Good Vocal Teacher," The Etude, April 1910, page 270.


  1. Absolutely wonderful! Something that will ALWAYS be true. Thank you for sharing this! Kindness matters.


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