Building the Mentoring Relationship
Below are some suggestions on how to build and nurture your ongoing relationship with your apprentice.
The Ethical Obligations
Even though you have already demonstrated your commitment to the choral profession and its emerging talent, nothing builds a healthy and constructive mentoring relationship more than mutual respect and a commitment to the relationship. At minimum, however, each person in the relationship is expected to “do no harm.” Following are some basic guidelines (Sharp, Mentoring in the Ensemble Arts):
- The mentorship must benefit the apprentice.
- The mentorship prioritizes the professional and developmental needs of the apprentice.
- Mentors treat apprentices with dignity, respect, and compassion, even when apprentices disappoint them.
- Mentors stay committed to the apprentice, but accountable to ACDA and the choral profession.
Get to Know your Apprentice
- Ask thoughtful questions about the apprentice’s interests, experiences and background.
- Follow up on any important steps the student has taken, such as a job interview or a leadership experience, and ask what he/she learned.
- Be an active listener by feeding back what the apprentice says, avoid interrupting and show interest in your voice and posture.
Share your Story
- Tell your apprentice about yourself and your experiences to build trust and rapport.
- Think about how you have learned from your mistakes and how your apprentice can learn from them.
- Share your lessons learned during college and beyond with your apprentice.
Offer Options versus Solutions
- Avoid giving quick solutions. Ask the apprentice what they are thinking of and help process process their own ideas.
- Make suggestions of things the student might try, for example, “Have you looked into…” or “Something I found helpful when I was in school…” versus “You should…” or “You need to…”
- Remember, oftentimes people will not do what we say, so don’t get discouraged if your apprentice does not heed your advice.
Be a Coach!
- Encourage your apprentice to take risks. They may need a little push, but it will help them in the long run.
- Remember, students and new conductors have a lot to learn from a professional like you.
- Even established professionals can learn from each other.