As a songwriter and performer, I think there’s nothing better than actually getting on a stage and plying my craft. But as a teacher, there’s nothing better than to see the results of my work, as a student stands on a stage for the first time.
Mentoring can take so many different forms in creative arts. Some of the most productive things can come out of a casual chat over coffee rather than a formal session. Just a quiet word from the right person has been like gold sometimes, reassuring me that my path is true. I’ve found particular people who’ve been wonderful in assisting me in areas that I didn’t have that much knowledge in, such as finance and bookkeeping, understanding how the live music industry can be radically different in non english speaking countries and the never-ending ferris wheel of public liability insurance.
Sometimes it’s been as simple as an exchange of networks or as complex as a full “how to” on a particular area – but I suggest don’t feel compelled to act on all advice given! In my opinion, the best mentors always will say “well, that’s my thoughts but it’s your decision”, rather than “you must do this”!
No matter how you go about it, it’s important. Singer/songwriters are for the most part involved in a solitary existence, both a creators and performers. We stand on the stage alone, singing songs we wrote alone. Outside input, particularly from folks who’ve done or are still doing similar things can be gold!
Recently, I had the joy of mentoring one of my students Cassie O’Keefe. We played on the same bill at Casbah Cafe’s regular Women Songwriters’ night in Hobart and it was (as Cassie put it) her first grown up gig. Yes, she made mistakes but she carried herself onstage with honesty and dignity and has learned a great deal from the experience.
At 17, this girl has a wonderful future ahead of her as a performer and songwriter and if you’re in Hobart next month, Cassie will be playing again at Casbah Cafe on Thursday 11th July.
For me, mentors have been a part of my entire life and have taken many guises. I attribute a lot of my success to good advice and assistance from people who have and still care about my professional development. I’m interested in hearing your stories about mentoring too – let me know what you think. For me it’s the stuff that makes the road just that much easier and makes my world go round.
Take care and see you soon,