Music vs. Behavior

This year I’ve been growing in my ability to distinguish teaching music vs. managing behavior the classroom. Here’s what I mean:

Students in music classes are learning about unfamiliar concepts. They’re learning new repertoire, new notes, new fingerings, and other aspects of music they’ve never considered before. And along the way, students are learning how to behave in a rehearsal.

As music teachers, we’ve got to learn how to manage all of the above; the learning and the behavior.

This year, as I’ve been learning to recognize the difference between those two issues, I’ve become more determined about two principles:

1. I will be quick to stop student behavior that interrupts the learning.

2. I will be quick to help students who put in the effort to become better musicians.

To put it more simply, I won’t belittle students for playing wrong notes, but I will reprimand a student for disrespectful behavior. I’m trying to demonstrate patience in the process of learning, and intolerance with disruptions.

This is all in the interest of the music. I’m trying to teach my students when we get past the behavior issues, we can really give our attention to learning to play music.

Does any of this resonate with you?

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9 thoughts on “Music vs. Behavior

  1. Absolutely. If the student can’t appreciate the delayed gratification and respect for the music, then they’ll only ever play notes, not music. Good points.

  2. It absolutely makes sense that bad behaviors get in the way of making music. Since many of us are the directors of a child’s first rehearsal environment, we need to teach the desired behaviors as aggressively as we teach fingerings and rhythms. I often use this phrase with my students: “Good musicians know how to rehearse.” This reminds them of my expectations for good rehearsal behavior, which are also posted in the classroom. It also makes them feel proud, because I have called them good musicians. 🙂

  3. “I won’t belittle students for playing wrong notes” That’s good as one should never belittle a student, or anybody else for that matter. I will agree that disruptive behavior needs to be stopped before it can take away from the students who are trying to learn.

  4. Behavior within a classroom and classroom management is always an issue and I believe that being a Music Educator is even harder to manage a classroom or ensemble. We have mainly 20 or more kids within our ensemble all playing different instruments, rhythms and notes. Not to mention that fact that our music stands create a barrier between us and the students in which allows them to get away with quite a few things. However, I believe and agree that if we can first take care of the behavior problems and can address which students really want to be within our class/ensemble then all of our attention can go into creating music

  5. Randall: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    TS: I hope you understood my point. I won’t belittle anyone, but I will be very stern with students who are disrespectful during rehearsals. On the other hand, if a student is struggling with the music but is making a sincere effort, I won’t complicate the situation by stressing them out and showing frustration with them.

  6. I just discovered this thread, thank you. What advice might you have for ‘pre-service” teachers who are almost ready to student teach and will soon be working with kids in a large rehearsal setting? We can talk about student behavior and various techniques, but it’s still one of the top concerns for new teachers. I will share this site with my secondary methods students today.

  7. Hi Janet,

    Sorry for not responding sooner. I started drafting a reponse, but it has turned out to be “postworthy” in itself. Look for “Two Thoughts for New Music Teachers.”

  8. Pingback: Two Thoughts for New Music Teachers « Music Ed Lounge

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