The Piano Man Music

Why a mentor is a must

Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, who passed away recently, was a favourite mentor in the field of academics and the arts

Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, who passed away recently, was a favourite mentor in the field of academics and the arts   | Photo Credit: V_GANESAN

Mentors shape destinies, selflessly devoting themselves towards pushing their mentees towards the right path

There is a famous story about the meeting of two great composers — Ludwig Van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart around 1787 in Vienna. For Beethoven, Mozart was his idol and role model. A young Beethoven is said to have taken leave of absence from his court orchestra services in Bonn to travel to Vienna just to meet Mozart and possibly study under him. Mozart was not very welcoming when Beethoven landed at his house. He was in the midst of composition work and was very sick.

Beethoven persisted, and was asked by Mozart to play a piece on the piano. He immediately chose to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 24 in C Minor, only to have the latter stop him mid-phrase with an admonition. Mozart asked the younger maestro to play something original, and not indulge in flattery. Beethoven is said to have immediately played the opening bars of his inspiration for what was to become the ‘Tempest’ sonata much later in life.

A visibly excited Mozart is said to have run out of the room to summon his wife and children to listen to a glowing Beethoven, saying that this is someone the world should watch out for. While Beethoven’s family situation did not permit him to continue to learn under Mozart for longer, the adulation continued. Beethoven did accept Mozart as his mentor, and is said to have corresponded with him.

Mozart must have been both a muse and a good mentor, as he himself had been good friends with and been mentored by the great composer Joseph Haydn. The pattern of mentoring and close confidence between composers seems to have been a big factor in that era. A practice that is not as common in today’s rather competitive zeitgeist.

A good mentor is not just a confidant or a teacher. In the best of cases, mentors shape destinies, selflessly devoting themselves towards pushing their mentees towards the right path, the right opportunities to shine. To a mentor, the mentee’s accomplishment is a collaborative victory, a fruition of belief and a proof of their faith in each other. Famous personalities through time have been guided by equally important or influential individuals. Elizabeth Taylor as a mentee of Audrey Hepburn, Gandhiji as a mentee of Gopala Krishna Gokhale, Gandhiji as a mentor to Mandela and to Martin Luther King Junior — history is full of such examples.

In the demise of Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, educator extraordinaire and Iron Lady of Chennai, many of us in the fields of education and music have lost perhaps the best mentor we could ask for. She was all the adjectives many celebrities are using, and more. To me, perhaps, she was the most direct and most influential mentor I could ask for. Pressing on me the importance of taking music as a responsibility, and as a platform to forge a different educational pathway to children. She was fond of reading, and was a voracious reader, and would often send across photocopies of passages from great works on education or on music. I am sure thousands of teachers and students across the world would possibly have their own personal anecdotes about her that outrank mine.

But in her passing, I believe that an era in mentoring has passed. To be able to draw upon her reserve of selfless encouragement, to create the next generation of mentors would possibly be a key takeaway from her life.

To her, I dedicate this column.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 4:57:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/why-a-mentor-is-a-must/article28895229.ece

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