I recently attended the national convention of the American Guild of Organists. It was the first time I had attended such a gathering and I looked forward to seeing what I might learn.
My busy work schedule did not allow me to attend every day of the convention, but the days I attended were excellent. I met organists whose work I had admired for years. I also made some new friends and got to taste some authentic Kansas City barbeque. All in all, it was a great experience.
I attended several classes at the convention. One of the best was a class on mentoring the next generation of organists. I was very impressed by the instructor, a high school guidance counselor and organist. She spoke of the need for strict honesty and integrity in the work we do as teachers. She emphasized that we should be positive and encouraging, that criticism should be constructive and that we should work with our student’s best interests at heart.
As I contemplate the message of this class, I think of the middle school band director who taught my children. One day his band participated in a competition and was awarded the grand prize trophy. The teacher double checked the scores and determined that, due to a math error, the trophy belonged to a different school. He voluntarily returned the trophy and told his students what he had done. This teacher taught his students one of the greatest lessons they will ever learn.
I also think of a curious thing that has happened to me since I began teaching organ lessons a few years ago. Several of my adult students have expressed to me that they chose me as their teacher because they had heard me play and wanted to be able to play as I did. Some of them had had that desire for years. I have been humbled by their confidence in me and it has inspired me to work harder.
Our actions as Latter-day Saints and as examples to others speak loudly and forcefully. How greatly I would have disappointed those who have trusted me had they found out that I was not who I claimed to be. Some of them may never have tried to develop their talents further and the lives of those who they serve would also have been affected. The obligations of good mentoring are in truth a part of the covenants we make at baptism: as good mentors we stand as witnesses of God!