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September, 2004

"Mentoring"

by Webmaster

Being a self-employed musician, artist and web builder, I've looked for ways to support myself. I never intended to do art or music professionally. One of the funniest things anyone has ever said to me was the person who informed me that after 25 years as a software engineer and 10 years at that job site, I would be laid off. "But," he said. "We're not worried about you. You have music to fall back on." I know he meant well.

Another friend said that free-lance self-employed people need 10 different ways to make money to survive. I'm not up to 10 different ways yet, but I've thought of some that work: playing music, working on web pages, making and selling mosaics, selling jokes (really), teaching bass. I've also thought of some that may not work, such as having a t-shirt printed up that says "Your ad here" across the front and letting folks pay me to wear their t-shirts.

Um, I seem to have gotten sidetracked. I wanted to write about mentoring. Let's go back to that list of things that work. I mentioned teaching bass.

At one time, I taught a computer science overview at a Denver college. I taught the class for two years—that's how I got started building web pages, so it had its rewards. But, teaching that class didn't turn out to be the rewarding experience I'd hoped it would be.

What I thoroughly enjoyed was tuturing the programming students. We had a small group, 2-5 students each quarter, and I helped them learn to think like the computer. It was close to a one-on-one situation, and the subject matter was completely up to the students: what they wanted and needed to learn. We had no agenda, no required material to cover, no assignments. I found that to be a delightful experience.

With that in mind, I started teaching private bass lessons this year. I don't consider myself to be an expert bass player, but I thought I could teach beginning and intermediate bass players.

This has been a rewarding experience, and I don't necessarily mean financially. I really enjoy helping folks learn to do new things and seeing the light of recognition in their eyes.

I don't think I actually teach. My job is to facilitate their learning. They learn because they want to. I can only help them get where they want to go. And, they go the direction they want to go and get there at their own speed. It's interesting and challenging and emotionally rewarding.

"If the buildings themselves were worth more than gold and armies, the value of the schoolmarms who brought learning to life in Colorado Territory was priceless." —"Frontier Bloomers: Schoolmarms in Colorado" by Sharon Frickey, Colorado Country Live, Sept. 2004

I read a quote by Mark Twain recently and recognized the truth of the quote in my own experience with folks who have helped me along the way:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great."

I've become a better bass player for having helped others. And I thank and bless the folks along the way that have helped and taught me. Some of those folks truly are great!

Thanks for visiting Acoustic By Lines.

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