Thursday, July 12, 2012


A lot of newer taiko groups are really hungry for teachers.  There are also individuals out there who are looking for a teacher or mentor to take their taiko to the next level - whether it's people who don’t play with an established group, people like me who are a bit “off the radar” of the group they’re in, or just those who follow a path that doesn’t fit with what nearby groups can provide.

In thinking about what makes a teacher and who is a teacher, I started thinking more liberally about the definition of the word “teacher”.  If you learn something from someone, they have taught you, and therefore are a teacher, to some extent.

With this definition, you soon find you have a LOT of teachers.  I’ve learned a lot from members of other groups I’ve never been in or even taken a workshop with, just by being around them and listening/observing how they conduct themselves.  I’ve learned tips on better ways to approach difficult students, I’ve learned drills for this and that, and I’ve learned a lot about how NOT to conduct myself.

Think of new players/students entering your group.  On the surface, they're learning new songs and new moves, learning the social landscape of how the group operates, and what's expected behavior.  But they're also watching what people are like when they let their guard down.  Do some people act nicer to a select few?  Do some people pick on others?  Do some people always step in to help out?  Do some people never seem to?  Are some people really chatty?  Is it ok to ask a lot of questions?  Who learns by watching?  Who teaches by talking?

All of those things are taught by the members of a group to those watching.  So in effect, everyone is a teacher.  You may not consider yourself a teacher, but once there are people in your group newer than you, congratulations!  You're a teacher.  It's probably even more true for the members who are still new but no longer the newest, because the newest members are probably watching them the most.

Thinking of being a teacher in this way helps give perspective to those looking for instruction.  While you can learn techniques and moves from someone, you can also learn traits and behaviors.  Maybe someone you look up to always finds the right way to help someone learn, or maybe someone who's been around for a while acts poorly to those who ask for assistance - either way, you learn how or how not to behave based on their actions.

So what are you teaching others with yours?

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