Of common occurrence in the experience of a music teacher is the enrolling of a pupil from some other teacher.
Circumstances very often work changes in the plans of either teacher or pupil, making it necessary for the pupils’ study to be continued under a new teacher.
A question of professional ethics is hereby raised which only too often is answered to the very decided lowering of this desirable principle.
How often is the pupil making such a change told by the new teacher that his former instruction was altogether wrong? That he made a very serious mistake in putting himself under that other teacher’s direction?
How widely and surely does professional courtesy and fair-dealing obtain among rival teachers?
Is not that other teacher more or less of a fraud always? It would seem as though humanity is so constituted that it cannot be fair and just in its estimates of rivals in business or social life. Leaving out of discussion the many times the pupil is told how bad that other teacher was, when there is absolutely no ground for such an assertion, how often the responsibility for the faults of the pupil, technical and otherwise, are gravely laid upon the shoulders of that other teacher.
Many pupils change who do play badly, who are ignorant, who seemingly do not understand the first principles of position and technic, and the new teacher at once proceeds to descant upon the inability of that other teacher, sometimes honestly believing himself to be right in such condemnation.
After he has had this new pupil awhile, however, a change comes o’er the spirit of his dream. He finds his efforts—on which he has heretofore prided himself—to appear abortive, and finally learns, to his distress, that should the pupil make yet another change, he would be in precisely the same predicament as that other teacher.
The bad habits remain in spite of him.
Now for the moral!
Too hastily formed judgments and opinions are very liable to need revision, and it is far better to reserve your decisions, especially spoken ones, until you have had time to do your revising. There are always two sides to a question, and changing pupils, unless there is an obvious reason for the change, is apt to be a thorn in the flesh.
Failure is sometimes the lot of us all. None are infallible. You may be placed in a like position and then will come home to you with full force the unchanging truth: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete, it shall be meted out to you again.”
Give that other teacher a fair show, and do not condemn him until he is proved to be wrong, and even then mercy is a discretion.
A. L. Manchester.