Some people know very early on that teaching is for them, whether its because they like working with children, encouraging people to learn new things, or marking hundreds of test papers (well, probably not so much).
Nowadays, with advances in technology, there are a growing number of ways to teach. So if some people were previously put off by spending all day in a classroom, you now have the option of offering piano lessons over Skype to someone in another country, or uploading your videos to Youtube.
But teaching music isn’t for everyone. This is a fact Barbara Hall has written about in a novel, which she explains was inspired when she tried to learn violin as an adult and discovered that her music teacher was angry that she wanted to take lessons. She argues that teachers like that were the ones who were supposed to have become musicians, but got lost along the way. This is the idea for the book’s main character, who says at one point, “I am the mean music teacher. I am that cranky woman you remember from your youth, the one whose face you dreaded seeing, whose breath you dreaded smelling as I leaned over you, tugging at your fingers. You made jokes about me, drew caricatures of me in your notebooks, made puns out of my name, swore never to be me. Well, listen. I swore never to be me, too. My name is Pearl Swain. It is my real name.”
The point about great musicians not always being suited to teachers doesn’t seem to be something Hall just made up. Others who are extremely passionate about music or love playing an instrument find that teaching isn’t for them, like the person who started this discussion on whether teaching piano was the right thing for them to do. They don’t just speak about difficulties in motivating their students, which is of course a big part of being a teacher, but also about the awkward hours and the pressure it puts on their personal life.
So if you are keen to avoid being the unhappy music teacher because you really want to be doing something else, it’s probably a good idea to try to decide if the job is right for you first. Partly inspired by this list of ways you know you’re a music teacher, here are some serious, and other not so serious, signs that you can tell you are meant to be a music teacher.
1. You enjoy writing things down on post-it notes.
2. You realise that making mistakes when you play is no big deal. After all, it’s the best way to learn.
3. You don’t mind if people ask you what your “real job” is.
4. You are quite happy playing Christmas music in October, and you might even join in singing too!
5. You own multiple items of clothing covered in musical notation.
6. You don’t mind that an early dinner means 8 p.m., or that you might need to snatch a bite to eat between lessons.
7. You find counting to four more natural than anything else.
8. You can motivate others to practice, and recognise the excuses when they have not.
9. You are able to harmonise with the vacuum cleaner.
10. You know the punchline to the joke “a C, E flat and G walked in to a bar.”
11. You don’t mind never getting a day off.
12. You have IMSLP higher up your favourites than Netflix.
13. You enjoy humming or making other strange noises in front of large groups of people.
14. You’re not one of the many who have to explain how much they regret giving up music lessons.
15. You love music!