Do You Want to Be a Better Music Teacher?

Of course you do!

First, a bit of a back story on me. I have a confession, I haven’t been teaching as long as I’d like before writing this, but that’s what happens when you’re 22 years old.¬†Although I haven’t been teaching all that long it’s still been about 4 years since I gave my very first bass lesson. The recent undertaking of a TESOL certification however has made me more critical of how I teach. Here are some insights and some things that I’ve learnt along my 4 years of teaching and more recently the teaching of another language (English). I don’t expect you to trust me but I hope that you do.

Patience

I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of patience naturally. This helps me tremendously as a teacher and is something that I wanted to start with. The key is to understand that all the information you are giving your student is new or uses the content they know already in a knew way. That stuff needs time to settle! Don’t feel as if you’re wasting their time, giving them more and more content without them grasping the foundations will do them more harm than taking extra time to explain something.

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Clear instructions.

Teaching English to speakers of other languages really showed me how important clear concise instructions are. Even though you and your student speak the same language, the language that you’re teaching (music) isn’t their first language, or yours! Make sure to break things down into easy parts and built it up piece by piece.

Create great and engaging content.

Whilst I and most music teachers agree, things like scales and technique are important why not turn a typically stale task? Get your student using that new scale they learnt to improvise on a song. Ask them to play every note in the scale against the chord slowly and ask them which ones they like the most. Then explain to them why it is that these notes may sound better than others!

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Be adaptive

Learn to adapt and create in the moment, you probably do it with your music playing so why not do it with the rest of life. Truly great moments are created when we improvise. The fact that you are sitting their teaching a students means or should mean that you know what you’re talking about so be brave and go down a path you might not had planned. I am constantly teaching music marketing and business to bass students because it is relevant information to know in order to be about to become a successful musician. Of course I only tell them this stuff if they want to know it but if they do why not?!

Act as a role model

This is more specific to younger students but also applies to older ones. Teach by example and practice what you preach, nothing turns a student off faster than being taught by a ‘phoney’.

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Give great resources

There’s so many great resources online (Crafty Muso hint hint) why not share these with your students. The biggest kick I get in teaching is when my student is proactive and comes to me with new stuff that I haven’t taught them. It shows that I’m inspiring them and directing their lifelong study.

Have fun

At the end of the day its a pretty awesome job to be able to teach music. Sure your student might miss a lesson here or there or you’ll be sitting there teaching 7 nation army for the 20th time. At the end of the day there are many people that would kill to be in the position you are, so cherish it!

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