I see teaching as a very important part of learning music and learning through music. As much as this may sound contradictory, it is not: often teachers state that “in a music lesson the one that mostly learns is the teacher himself”, and that is (or can be) very true and it is part of the way that i like to approach teaching.
This is not to say, of course, that the teacher then is a self-centered being during the lesson, minding more about his own learning than that of his students. Quite the opposite. When someone becomes aware that musicality, technics, ideas, imagination etc, cannot be “pushed into” or “implanted” into another person’s brain or body, then he can begin to become more aware of ways he can facilitate and help the emergence of this learning.
I believe that, potentially, there can be a problem with handing over “things we know” about music to other people. That is, explaining verbally and talking about music, trying to make the other person “understand”. The core of the matter of course is the nonverbal nature of music. As many important musicians can testify (check here to hear Keith Jarrett’s little speech on receiving an award, on minute 06:20) music is not something you can really describe with words. Its of a different nature, and i have seen that as much as one becomes familiar with this, then that encompasses its own learning.
Anyone will testify that inspiration and enthusiasm are “contagious” things. As students we learn much better, and are much more motivated to work and study ‘back home’ when during lessons we can feel those sensations being there. But how can a teacher be continuously inspired and enthusiastic, when he has to repeat the same musical phrase -for example- over and over again, and many-many times through many classes and to many students?
Well the answer, for me, is that he can (or should) learn how to do it. Not only that, but also, if the so called “teacher” can find a way to continue learning through this apparent repetition, then maybe he has made an important step towards this emergence of learning both for him and the student.
I was very lucky and i had many great teachers in music, first in my hometown conservatory, then in university undergraduate and postgraduate studies and also in various schools and of course in many other contexts, private lessons, seminars and so on. I am deeply thankful and grateful to all of them.
Interestingly enough though, i consider my greatest teacher Ömer Erdoğdular (my ney teacher) a person that we could not talk with, because we didn’t speak any common language with. Nevertheless, maybe such occasions favor the emergence of music’s special qualities which are multiple and subtle…