Jan 27, 2011

A Mentor

Last year I received a guitar for Christmas from my hubby. I was really excited. I purchased a book, asked a friend to come over and teach me a little how to play, and goofed around with it for a while. Then it just wasn't fun anymore, I broke a string and put it away.

Recently I heard about a guitar class being taught at a local high school. I debated...was it worth the money, was it worth the time commitment, would I really learn anything. I decided to go for it....even though my 12 yo said...what are you going to do when your stomach gets too big and you loose your lap...rude..but good point :)

I attended the first class, there were 40 people in the class, I was disappointed, how will I learn with 40 other people in the class? Our instructor began teaching..about the basics of the guitar, about how to read music, about strumming, about fingering, and chords. In the course of one hour she covered all of these things...she's pretty amazing...I came home and played a song for my family. I'm pretty choppy. Wednesday I had to stop and look at my fingers to make sure they are on the right strings, my strumming is still pretty stiff, my fingers sometimes slip off the notes. But today as I played I only looked at my fingers one time, my strumming is still pretty stiff, my pauses between chord changes are still a little choppy. Our new little friend says...mommy keeps stopping, (while I'm singing the song) but by next lesson I'm determined to have this song down.

So, what does this have to do with mentoring? Could I have learned to play the guitar all by myself?...probably. I read my book, I could figure out the chords, I could already read music. But the mentor taught me some things I had not thought of ( one of her tricks was "think in your own mind a way that you can correlate the changing of the chords from one to another ie...the first finger slides up to the first fret, the third and fourth fingers are glued together, first and second finger split and move, etc") The mentor challenged us. ("play until it hurts, don't play until it bleeds..I don't want any bleeding, but play until it hurts, I'd like to see some nice calous' next week") The mentor shared her love of the guitar and her passion for teaching us to love the guitar.

When the student is ready, the mentor appears? I don't know that as I student I was ready per se, except that I made the decision to be willing to sacrifice the time and the money and the effort. But I think as parents and students we need to realize that we have some work to do. For example, we were discussing how to know if your child needs a mentor to inspire in math. I believe that a child does not need a mentor in math until they have mastered the basics. There is really no point in my child being mentored in Euclid if they can't add 5 +7 or 4 X 9. Those are the basics. Some individuals in my guitar class have no musical background. They received their guitars for Christmas and now they want to learn how to play. The mentor could see their "deer in the headlights" looks as she cruised through the material. To me she was just right. Her little tips and tricks, her little analogies and excitement, her challenges were just right. I was ready to take guitar lessons. The basics didn't phase me. I don't have to memorize the frets and the strings and the fingering. I already learned those things. I don't have to work on counting, reading notes, or time signatures. I am ready to be mentored in how to play the guitar.

As parents, and students, how important it is to lay the ground work. To teach and learn the basics. Once we have mastered the basics it is easy to be mentored. We are ready to take off, to soar, to become something more. Without basics we get stuck and bored and frustrated with our ability to progress. It is why we learn to read, write and basic arithmetic. It is why we learn about George Washington before reading the Declaration. It is why we learn about the sun before we study the laws of physics.

It is why the Lord teaches us line upon line. He asks us to listen to the missionaries, to read a book, to go to church, then to pay tithing. Missionaries don't walk up to people and ask them to pay tithing. It is a process. It gets harder as you go along. Sometimes I look down the road and think...really? Do I need to become THAT? But if I look at the steps in front of me I am ready for each one when the time comes. After all God is the greatest mentor of all. He knows when to push and when to wait, when to let us master a few more basics and when we are ready to soar ahead.

I watched an eagle soar to great heights.
How majestic he was in his flight.
He swooped down quickly to catch his prey.
He was quite prosperous that day.

High on a rock, an eagle's nest can be found.
It protects her young from danger on the ground.
She watches over her young with great care.
There's not a mightier bird found anywhere.

Lord, I've prayed fervently many a night.
I'm ready now to take my flight.
May I soar the heavens in Your care.
I know Your strength will carry me anywhere.

Thank you, Lord, for my strength made anew.
Your Words I've claimed are always true.
I'll not faint or be made weary again,
If I draw from Your strength as a new day begins.

I've waited on You to make me strong.
I'm on higher ground, where I belong.
Like the eagle, I now have keener sight.
I'm soaring with You to greater heights.

Happy Mentoring or being Mentored :)

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