We get up on the shoulders of the mentors. No matter what your occupation or interest; there has been people who have “taken you under their wing” that may help you grow.
When you set about something new, it is a personal mentor’s belief inside you that keeps you going until your own personal belief within you kicks in.
I began like a protégé in the age of 8, studying with William Whitson, who had previously been a Concert Violinist and military officer. He smiled and showed me the way to hold the violin and bow, best places to place my fingers for the string, and tips on how to make a sound about the instrument by pulling the bow through the strings. He did this by modeling the best way to play for me personally and then having me do it.
He also taught me the best way to read the notes within the musical page which can be parallel to reading a manuscript and educated me in at my first violin lesson to try out the theme of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Ode to Joy.
Mr. Whitson’s encouragement was the fuel that kept me going within my moments of frustration.
Many years later at 17, I had the honor of playing in the world-famous Carnegie Hall. That journey wouldn’t have been possible with no investment my mentor manufactured in me.
My first leadership role was what teaching assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University at 17 years old. Even though many with the students were more than I was, I taught like Mr. Whitson trained me in, wearing a smile, demonstrating how you can hold the violin and bow, and getting them check it out. I walked round the room to aid improve every person’s hold around the violin and bow and gave them encouragement. Just as Mr. Whitson supported me, I supported them.
One student was 6 foot 2 with huge hands he was wanting to wrap around his violin. After showing him how you can pull his left arm down and hold his hand by bending his thumb slightly, he was able to experiment with a few notes. This was his lightbulb moment!
While I was teaching, I was continuing inside my protégé role studying violin with my Professor.
That school would be a stepping stone for studying in the Juilliard School. While studying for the Juilliard School, I played Principal viola inside the 92nd Y Orchestra. My leadership role was playing solos with all the orchestra and leading my section. This job filled me with a stipend to spend my rent.
Herman Silver, 75, became a member of our own viola section. He was an incredible amateur violist who played beautifully. During the weekends, he was excited about playing chamber music in the home with New York City’s best musicians. You could have the excitement dripping from his pores.
Herman loaned me the tunes for each concert 2 weeks in advance. He loved sharing the love for chamber music using the next generation and achieving world class musicians lead just how. Herman was a completely different, inspiring, and motivating mentor.
At Herman’s concerts we performed with concert violinist, Toscha Samaroff who were a student of Leopold Auer. Toscha, 75, totally difficult first violin parts to both Mendelssohn’s Octet and Spohr’s Octet. Toscha was a unprecedented leader having fun with a beautiful tone and lovely phrasing. I played both first viola parts of these works with Herman playing the next parts in an attractive steady manner. Playing with Toscha Samaroff and Herman Silver would be a marvelous experience I will long remember. They encouraged and inspired others to learn at their top a higher level performance.
My leadership style today is to be a leader who’s going to be both an instructor and mentor to my associates helping them improve and grow.
Great leaders are people developers, building strong relationships with other people. They encourage, inspire, and motivate their protégés and associates. They do this by modeling the task and believing from the people they lead. This is my leadership style.
What three things do great leaders, teachers, and mentors have in common?
1) They want to develop people. They build strong relationships within an atmosphere of growth and learning.
2) They care about others and want to aid them reach their set goals by encouraging, inspiring, and motivating others.
3) They help their protégés or mentees build healthy self-images by believing in the individual before they actually.
We climb onto the shoulders of the mentors. How can you keep their legacy continuing for generation?
By upgrading and being an innovator and mentor who motivates, encourages, and inspires others to succeed in their top degree of excellence!