Art LO28364

From: Ray Evans Harrell (
Date: 04/30/02

Replying to LO28360 --

At said to Fred Nichols
> This teacher overstepped a Law of Teaching. Never, never, never tell any
> learner that a certain becoming is impossible. Rather help the learner
> with guidance to discover self what is possible.
> Many a learner surprised me beyond my wildest expectations.

Dear Fred,

I would second what At has said about this. It is an incompetant teacher
who believes that anyone who has a beginning skill has nothing to say. I
would also deliver a "cheap shot" by saying that a teacher who excells
only at teaching those who would succeed anyway is not much of a teacher.

I too have discovered that the most important thing to know about students
is how they are capable of going beyond my own imagination. I would also
question how any teacher could know the ultimate end to an artist's
journey at the beginning of a student's freshman year. Both Beethoven and
Debussy were difficult students in the beginning for different reasons.
Beethoven wasn't "Mozart" and Debussy was a country provincial. It was in
the overcoming of their difficulties that they became great Masters.

Sometimes teachers see themselves more as Guardians at the gate rather
than developers of talent, or diminishers of complexity. In the Arts
there is a necessity for Gatekeepers since there are so few jobs here,
even for the truly significant. (I would point out that history has shown
consistantly that NO ONE can know the answer, in the present, to
significance.) We live in fear of overlooking a Beethoven or a Debussy or
a Van Gogh because history will destroy our lineage if we do. So we
Gatekeep and encourage the obvious. It is easier to say that their talent
wasn't obvious than to say that we screwed it up. I have studied with
many Gatekeepers and have found the work to be important for me. But they
taught amateurs as well to keep themselves open and honest about talent.
As a professional they often helped me with their "all or nothing
attitude, however, sometimes, I used them to stop myself from doing
something that I wasn't truly committed to. I was, for whatever reason,
unwilling to give up my incompetence in order to cultivate success. Why
that was so, has been a lifetime of study. We all sometimes substitute
therapy for product.

For those teachers on the list who believe that the easy way out is OK, I
would point out that there is a failed pianist running America's foreign
policy today, a failed clarinetist at the FED, a failed painter who
created the holocaust in Germany and many many failed physicists as CEOs
of America's major corporations. Whether they would have been better in
the Arts (ior Physics) is a question that we all will never know, but we
have been effected.


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director
The Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble, Inc.
The Magic Circle Biennial American Art's Festival, 2003
"A Ned Rorem 80th Birthday Celebration"


"Ray Evans Harrell" <>

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