Two Thoughts for New Music Teachers

In the post Music Vs. Behavior, Janet asked about advice for pre-service teachers who are getting ready to start their careers. If I had a moment to share a few thoughts with her music ed students, I would remind them to…

1. Talk less/Let the students play more. Students are there because they want to PLAY. The general education community is slowly coming around to the idea that students learn by doing, and “doing” is what being in music class should be all about. Plus, the one failsafe a music teacher always has is calling out a title and giving a downbeat. When you don’t know what else to say or do in class, play another piece! It does wonders for classroom management as well.

2. This one is more general, but be mentally prepared to adapt to the unexpected. Whether in rehearsal, in a performance, on an outing, or in a career, there are undoubtedly going to be unexpected obstacles. In my first year or two of teaching, I’m not sure how well I reacted whenever I hit a bump in the road. But I have since realized that even seasoned veteran teachers hit those same bumps. Although it’s impossible to be prepared for every unexpected setback, it is possible to learn how to react and solve problems. Students will lose sheet music. Instruments will malfunction at inopportune times. Tour buses will get stuck in traffic. You will be asked to teach a course outside of your specialty. When these things happen, don’t panic. Learn to be a problem solver. As time goes by, you’ll learn to predict the types of things that may go wrong, you’ll learn how to ask for help, and you’ll learn how to react.

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One thought on “Two Thoughts for New Music Teachers

  1. Yes, some good advice here. You can pretty much count on kids forgetting music, reeds, uniform, what-have-you. It’s mostly because they’re KIDS – not just little sidemen you bring out for the occasional gig. I like to use method book recordings to get kids playing at the beginning of class – 20 minutes of carefully selected lines from the method can provide a good warm-up. Also, it absolutely sets the tone of the class. Kids set up quickly and get going right away. It is also a good way to reinforce previous lessons without having to talk too much. I often do not speak to the class for the first 15-20 minutes.

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