With the London Olympics in full swing media coverage of our athletes is hard to miss. After each performance, our athletes attribute their success to those who have influenced their journey – their mentors and coaches.
Every athlete confirms their success is not just their own. The mental and physical support and encouragement is crucial to their stamina and ultimate sporting performance and achievement.
The coach/athlete relationship is deeply personal and includes the transfer of specific technical knowledge, personal support, professional development and motivation. The mentor is commonly more experienced than the protégé but often a mentor can also be a peer.
These days, mentorship is not just for the sporting elite. More and more people are realising the benefits of a mentor and or coach. Sometimes we choose our mentors and sometimes this relationship simply evolves. For children it starts with our parents and often a great teacher/student relationship. A mentor is anyone who has their protégé’s best interests at heart and wants to help them develop, grow and succeed.
So how important is it for your child to have a mentor?
Well, I assume that most parents want what I want for my children. We hope our children will become confident and happy adults who can make a positive contribution to the world. We want them to learn to give their “personal” best in all their endeavours and to work well with others. We want them to have the confidence to try new things, to take some risks, to test themselves and to develop the resilience to recover when they’re disappointed. We want them to develop enough “self knowledge” to understand their strengths and develop those strengths to the best of their ability.
Most kids need some help with this. In fact most adults do as well. A mentor will recognise an individual’s strengths and actively help to improve and develop them. A mentor will be honest enough to tell you when you’re on the wrong track. A mentor will help you identify your goal and motivate you to try harder to achieve it.
For young performers embarking on their ‘Olympic’ style journey to the stage, overcoming their nerves and self-doubt is essential. Mentors can be found in their teachers, conductors and choreographers but often forgotten are their peers. Their fellow students, who applaud one another in rehearsal and help one another work through performance challenges.
In ensemble pursuits, the young person is not as vulnerable to discouragement. The team is a positive force in which to learn and grow. Membership to an ensemble brings affirmation and removes the pressure of individual performance, allowing each person to develop at their own pace.
Performance authenticates the learning process. It not only brings personal satisfaction but gives a point of direction for further improvement and this is where our mentors step in.
Applause can be the greatest encouragement. This support together with tips for improvement is a healthy way to help students to grow. It’s important for parents and teachers to understand the obstacles that have been overcome and give students genuine and well-deserved praise.
Thank-you to all my personal and professional mentors and thanks to all of us who act as mentors or are mentored by others.
Who is your greatest mentor and how have they helped you?
Christine Grey – General Manager NIYPAA.
Christine is an educator, organizer and art enthusiast, with a profound interest in youth performing arts. A former music and art teacher Christine is now devoting her time to the Australian Youth Choir and Australian Youth Dance Theatre where she has worked for over 15 years. She is a fan of the visual arts, live theatre, drama, film and is jealous of anyone who can create movement to music.Her working life has been dedicated to the musical education of young people in the performing arts and shes loves to tell anyone who will listen about the benefits the Arts can bring to every personality at all stages of their lives.