“Having students afraid of you is a teaching win!”
“Don’t smile till Christmas.”
“It is better to be feared than loved.”
There are lots of ways to say it: fear is a great motivator, and the proper wielding of power is an important part of success as a teacher.
I don’t buy it.
I tried it; I was raised in it, have seen fear used effectively by many conductors. But I don’t have it in me to rule by fear.
I have found that by authentically representing my own passion and intellect, expecting my students to meet the standard I have set, and consistently raising the bar when they meet it, that I have been able to maintain excellent ensembles across my career.
Any insubordinate behavior I saw my first year or two with my choir has long sing disappeared, and the continuity in both my students and my teaching has led to mutual trust, a positive atmosphere, and leadership towards success from within the group.
And all without having any students fear me. Respect me, certainly. But never fear.