Being a music teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs in the entire field of education. It can also be one of the most challenging. Many teachers face a situation in which they are forced to teach a pre-set curriculum and enjoy little freedom to amend lesson plans that have been set down by schools and districts.
Still others feel that having to come up with fresh plans for each class and grade level is a daunting chore for new instructors who are trying to find their way in a fresh career and simply work to keep order in the classroom.
What’s the solution?
If anything, music educators need to rely on their own instincts in order to manage large classes, convent basic skills to students who need special help, and make lessons memorable, useful sessions for everyone in the room. Additionally, it can become tiresome for instructors who have to teach the same set of core concepts day after day, year after year in public or private classrooms.
Here’s some advice from experienced music educators who want to encourage the next generation of teachers and let them know that no effort is wasted, especially when it’s made for the sake of students who want and need to learn musical concepts.
These are some effective, realistic suggestions for music teachers who want to boost their in-class impact and leave a lasting impression with every young mind they encounter:
Students don’t need to have perfect pitch or be advanced musicians in order to learn a lot from music classes. Effective, successful teachers know how to make learning fun by using games as a central part of their daily lesson plans. There’s no need to rely on texts and song books exclusively. There are hundreds of clever, instructive music games you can find on the Internet, or just make up some yourself.
Choose to put students in teams and let them write songs, compose funny lyrics for tunes they already know or compete in a musical spelling bee. The possibilities are endless when you decide to spice up your day with interesting games.
Experienced instructors have some suggestions for how to minimize the boredom factor that has a tendency to creep into all kinds of classes, from music and math to science and social studies. Here are a few of the most powerful ways to douse boredom before it gets a chance to materialize in your music classroom:
- Have unannounced sing-alongs a few times each week
- Use music games (see above) as a standard part of your curriculum
- Ask students direct questions about their opinions of pieces
- Have students do book and film reviews for the class on music subjects
- Give a verbal mini-quiz every day to begin the class
Be Aware of Students’ Abilities
It’s essential to keep good notes of everything you do. Most schools require detailed lesson plans. But in addition to the required notes, make sure to jot down a few pertinent facts about each student’s particular challenges and strong points related to music learning.
After a while, you’ll remember the items you write down, but it’ easy to forget who’s good at what and who needs help with what unless you commit the information to a private notebook.
What is this such an important thing for music educators to do? For one thing, every student has trouble with something and excels at something else. The more you are able to individualize your lessons, the better off the students will be. You’ll be using your time more effectively and get to know your students better. The result is a more honed method of instruction and students who realize that you truly care about their education.
Be Approachable and Informal
You don’t need to be a “friend” to your students, but it’s important to be informal and fully approachable.
They should feel at ease with you and be able to ask you anything about difficulties they’re having in class, what they feel would help them learn better and, generally, whatever they feel they need to speak with you about. Here are some of the ways experienced music instructors build a solid, beneficial and trusting relationship with their pupils:
- Call every child by name
- Be pro-active by asking kids if they need help with difficult lessons
- Be on time and organized
- Never criticize students in any way
- Offer constructive suggestions at appropriate times
- Let students know that your “door is always opened”
- Treat everyone in the class with respect and dignity
- Share a bit of your own story about how you decided to teach music
Communicate With Students and Parents
Communication is essential in every profession but especially in the field of music education. Parents should always be kept in the loop when you send an email or voice mail to a child. If you send text instructions or information at any time. include both the parents and the student.
This is good policy for all teachers, but it’s even more essential for music educators because parents are typically very interested in how kids are doing in music lessons.
Plan Longer Lessons Than You Need
It’s wise to have extra material in case something doesn’t work out, like a planned test that you decide isn’t appropriate for that day, or a lesson that just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the day’s activities.
Over-planning takes time but you can always use the extra activities in the future if you end up not needing them on a particular day.
Have a “Reading Room”
Be sure to have a generous selection of music-related books on a small shelf for students to look at when they arrive early or have to wait for a ride home after class. It’s wise to fill up their free time with something about music.
Plus, when you have lots of books on hand, you can see what subjects individual students are drawn to. The pupils will appreciate the fact that you made the effort to give them an opportunity to learn about various facets of the subject they already have shown an interest in.
What’s the Solution for Teachers?
At Prodigies Music (ProdigiesMusic.com), our entire staff has the experience to conduct group and individual lessons with effectiveness. Our instructors are top-notch professionals who emphasize the essentials and make learning fun, whether the lesson involves basic guitar, advanced violin or intermediate voice lessons. Every pupil gets what’s needed to keep interest levels up and retention of concepts high.
Parents know first-hand the benefits of early childhood music education and trust the Prodigies Music (ProdigiesMusic.com) team to help their children excell at whatever kind of music they’re interested in.
There’s never a dull moment in one of our classes because youngsters are challenged just enough to add to their knowledge each time the attend a session. Early childhood music education is one of the best ways to engage young minds and set kids on the right path for the future.