“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for other” ~Anonymous
Have you ever had a moment where you found yourself struggling to understand a difficult concept on your own when all of the sudden, “click,” and it all made sense? You could consider this to be like a light bulb turning on inside your head, and now the understanding is all clear. Now imagine a kind person giving you a source of light to make everything clear, rather than you trying to formulate a light bulb all by yourself. This is exactly how educators work and is what this wonderful quote is trying to address. By consuming their own knowledge and experience, they ignite a light that shines for their students to use to guide them to their future success.
Before explaining its relevance to the music educational world, I will first clarify the symbolic use of the candle. As educators, we grow in our knowledge and mastery of the art in which we choose to pursue. By attaining more wisdom and skill, the foundations we build will carry over to our workplace and allow us to succeed to higher degrees. This can be closely related to the build of a candle. The stronger and better the wax or oil is made, the more brilliant the candle will illuminate when ignited. A stronger light means for a better view. Others may use this strong light to guide them through many dark challenges that face them. Although the candle cannot be used as a tool for direct protection, it offers a brighter understanding of what the individual may face, and from there they can make the correct judgment. Teachers serve as this candle, while students serve as the lost individual. If a teacher has a strong foundation in what they know, their wisdom can be passed on to their student so that they may make their way successfully to their future. Although the educator cannot be there to sit in the student’s chair and take the exam for them, they may deepen the student’s understanding of the concept and allow for them to make the right choices based upon their understanding. The candle does not walk for the holder, but it will light the way so they know where to walk and what to avoid. The wonderful thing about candles is that their light does not diminish at all until all the wax or oiled is consumed. Educator will always have lessons to teach their student until all of their wisdom is consumed by the student. The only thing that can extinguish its flame otherwise is the carelessness of the holder allowing it to defuse. Music educators do not stray much at all to academic educators when it comes to comparing their impact upon students. The more knowledge and skill a music educator has will impact how bright their student’s future will be and how well they will master the art of their instrument. This is why it is important for music teachers to receive great education in all elements of music education. Then maybe one day, the student may grow up to become a well-made candle for another ambitious student to light the way to their future.