Share Your Music Teaching Experiences and Tips

February 14, 2012 at 1:54 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips, My Experinces | 1 Comment
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Music teaching is indeed an exciting and fulfilling profession. Although there are instances and experiences that may cause us problems and difficulties, being able to resolve these can make us more effective music educators and even make us improve ourselves.

Teaching music to students with different behaviors, capabilities, age and other personal characteristics can be difficult to handle. There are even times when we have students who are too demanding to learn music but they do not have such discipline to study their pieces. However and because of our love and passion for music, we always tend to cope up with these types of students and still perform our job professionally.

We all have various experiences and techniques in teaching music. We differ in solving different problems. Thus, we are asking you to share these experiences with other music teachers. Share your effective teaching methods or even reviews of gadgets and software that you are using in your music class. With your willingness to share these things, we hope that more music teachers can become better professionals.

Write your pieces and send them to us. Our email address is musicteacher541@gmail.com

We will gladly post it on this website and let other music teachers learn about your story.

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What Makes a Great Music Teacher

January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips, My Experinces | 6 Comments
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What makes a great music teacher? Someone with years of expert training and dedication? Someone who knows all the answers to music students’ questions?  Someone with a track record of incredible students?

It would be easy to say yes. Music teachers like that are very impressive. And certainly training and dedication are essential. But over the years I’ve realized that there are other qualities even more important than these.

I had a friend who majored in Music and French at University who ended up teaching German, her second foreign language, in a high school. One day, in the midst of a German lesson, she taught her students a German word that she later discovered did not exist. Mortified, she was hoping that her students would forget it along with all the other vocabulary they frequently forgot, but no such luck. The students remembered and continue to use this invented German word, and she did not have the heart or the courage to tell them the truth.

This story made a great impression on me when I heard it, and I determined at that moment that I would never pretend to know all the answers. As a child, I had thought my teachers had all the answers. Now as an adult, I know they did not. And so if a student asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, I tell them truthfully that I will find out for them and let them know. They don’t seem to have a problem with that.

What about having impressive students? Isn’t that an important yardstick by which to measure a teacher? My take on this is that it’s more important to have students who love what they do, and to have a good relationship with them. Worrying about whether they are excelling can get in the way of these other more important aspects.

On that note, are you aware of what your beliefs are about your students and about your teaching? If your students don’t excel, are you taking it personally, blaming your own teaching, or, conversely, blaming your students for being lazy or unmotivated? If you are driven by the need for recognition, it is easy to fall into this trap. Notice what drives you, and whether it is working for you. I decided a long time ago, when I was teaching some students with some personal challenges, that it was more important to give them love and attention, than for them to succeed at the piano. I’ve noticed that this works much better for me as a general rule.   If they are talented, it certainly can be more stimulating to teach them, and I love to hear the results, but I have developed some really close relationships with more typical students that were far more satisfying.

Another important issue is boundaries. Be clear about what you are able to offer.  What has worked best for me is to be friendly and warm, but not to try to be a best friend. To be clear about starting and ending times, fees, cancellations, and about the structure of the lesson. To be focused and not overly chatty. To give the students space to make discoveries, and to be objective as far as possible.

The bottom line here is about awareness. When you are teaching, are you aware of your breathing? Is your body relaxed? What thoughts do you have in your mind? How are you feeling? Are you present with the student? Do you feel in balance? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you still learning and growing as a musician and a person every day? Are you open to having fun? Are you genuinely enthusiastic? Are you even willing to look silly if it will help the student understand a certain principle or connect to a certain piece of music?

One of my advanced students, a teenage boy of 17, was learning a contemporary piano piece written for dancers. He was finding it difficult to connect to the piece, and I suddenly had the idea that maybe it would help him if I moved around the room and danced to it myself. I remember blushing as I had the idea. Although I often danced to music, I was in no way a professional, and I was afraid of embarrassing myself. But here we were in a large empty studio, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. I suggested it to my student, and he was very receptive. So I got up and started moving and dancing to the music. And an amazing thing happened. As he accompanied my movements, and I expressed physically and emotionally what I was hearing, the piece transformed. And neither he nor I have ever forgotten the experience.

Know more tips and ideas on how to become a great music teacher; visit these music teaching resources. – Earl Marsden

Music Education Articles

Piano Teaching Resources: Teaching Music Improvisation and Composition from a Familiar Starting Point

January 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Music Teachers Resources, My Experinces | 1 Comment
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When first starting to improvise or compose, the silence surrounding the instrument or the piece of blank manuscript paper in front of students can be rather daunting. Therefore I always begin creative activities within a genre that is familiar to music students. Sometimes, the best piano teaching resources come from our own experience, and I would like to share some of my observations here.

Outside your music studio, what engagement do your students have with music? Do they practice what you have just taught? Do they apply what they have learned and understood from their music lessons? These are some of the questions that music teachers may to ask new students. And that includes me.

Being a music teacher for several years, I observed that majority of my students hear pop music on the radio, ‘muzak’ in shopping centres, soundtracks in movies, ring tones and advertising jingles from different media while only a small minority of them are interested in hearing live music regularly, and a much smaller minority are exposed to new classical repertoire outside of their lessons.

With this in mind, the first improvisational or compositional activities in a music studio usually stem from a response to a visual stimulus and more often than not, they are a response to a short film. This has many advantages. Firstly, students are already familiar with the genre and do not need to spend much time studying the style. Secondly, students are creating works that are appropriate to their everyday environment. And lastly, a film gives the students a starting point in terms of mood and structure.

I find that one of the greatest struggles for young composers is structure. How long should this section be? How do I link all my ideas into one coherent piece? When should the piece end? Where should the climax be? How long is the build up to the climax? Is it too early or late to change mood? When composing or improvising a short film, the structure is largely determined for the student and the film also provides answers to other variables that can often be a stumbling block for starting the piece (for example, mood).

I am always fascinated by the different approaches my music students take to creative tasks. Some students study the film intently, watching it three or four times before starting to tinker around on the piano for ideas. Other students jump straight in and improvise in real time as the picture changes on the screen, always a second or two behind the action. And then there are the students who watch, furiously scribble notes and leave the lesson, turning up the following week with a completely notated, fully scored composition.

My younger students use film as an improvisatory starting point. I use it to encourage them to explore the piano – the range as well as both the timbral and textural possibilities. I also use these piano teaching resources to introduce the concepts of mood, expression and the communicative nature of music. For my older or more advanced students, writing a film score is a way for them to consolidate their theoretical knowledge and to express themselves creatively. Some questions that I ask my older students to consider are:

1. What is the mood of each scene? When does this change?

2. Should this scene be scored with silence or music?

3. Are you driving the action or commentating? (For example, is the composer creating suspense that might not yet be present on the screen, or are they scoring the moment as it happens, or even after it happens?)

4. Is there a climax?

5. Which character’s mood/opinion are you scoring?

6. Is the genre of the music being composed relevant to the people, the time and the place where the film is set?

I would love to hear how other music and piano teachers like you begin to teach improvisation and composition, how you use innovative piano teaching resources, and how you incorporate other arts disciplines into your studio. If you do not currently include improvisation or composition in your lessons or if it is a skill that is unfamiliar to you as a piano teacher, I strongly encourage you to head to YouTube, find a short film and begin creating! Good luck!

Visit these piano teaching resources and learn how you can benefit from this piano teacher software. – Earl Marsden

Articles for Music Teachers

Possible Resources for Music Teachers

December 9, 2008 at 9:27 am | Posted in My Experinces | 1 Comment
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Music has always been a part of our lives. There always seem to be songs that bring you back to a time of your life. Personally, I grew up every morning to the “old” rock songs my uncle always listened to.

Though rock music did not turn out to be my genre, still those mornings waking up to music instilled in me a love for music. Becoming a musician and music teacher became both choice and destiny.

I discovered when I finally set out to be a music teacher, was that I needed a loads of resources to make me efficient. Fortunately, I was able to find what I need, sometimes through friends, from sheer resourcefulness out of my personal experience in music, and, well, the internet!

The advantage of being an insider in the world of music is that I have made connections even before I started my own studio. My exploit as a choir conductor gave me the chance to meet many other music teachers and proprietors.

Indeed, their personal stories actually partly pushed me into teaching music full-time. Their tips served as my guide when I was still starting. Because of them, I was not as surprised as I could have been regarding the arduous tasks music teachers have.

One of the most important things they told me was the administrative parts of starting a music education business. What permits to get and where or from whom to get them. They also gave ideas of what type of locations are conducive to practice and to market a music studio.

My personal experiences as a choir conductor also helped a lot. Not only did I get to have the proper connections, I also have first hand knowledge about music. I applied them conveniently into my teaching lessons.

Sometimes true stories on personal experiences are more potent references for music lessons. Students get to appreciate them more since they would see it as something real, something concrete. Mostly because it already happened to their teacher!

And, of course, who in this day and time would not check out the internet for resources? The internet is a widely opened window of possibilities and opportunities. A lot of music teachers consult this virtual world to get new ideas, and, at the same time, share their own thoughts and suggestions.

Furthermore, some of them has put up, or helped put up, websites especially for music teachers. They provide both the trusted and new teaching ideas. They have software and computer programs to assist in music teaching and learning. They even offer programs to help music teachers, especially those who run their own music studios, in the administrative aspects of their vocation.

I could not have done it on my own. I need other people and outside resources to link with my personal knowledge to make my chosen craft work. This benefited not only me but most importantly my students, to whom I wanted to instill the love of music. That matters most!

Our website offers a variety of music teachers resources and tips. Log on to Music Teachers Helper and avail of our valuable services.

The Reason I am into Music Teaching

November 27, 2008 at 1:27 am | Posted in My Experinces | Leave a comment
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My career as a music teacher is definitely not an accident; it is my choice. Yet, it was my father, who motivated me to have such passion for music. He was not able to finish his Music Major course in college but still he managed to become a successful musician.

Teaching Music is also a passion for my dad. Not known to many, he scheduled a twice a week session for music enthusiast who wanted to learn how to play guitars without charging a single cent. This was just a reason why he gained a nice reputation in our neighborhood.

I would not sleep without my dad playing a tune with his flute; my mom always told me. There are also instances when I giggle aloud whenever he softly blows his trumpet just beside my ears. But that was when I was still a baby, unaware of my future.

Honestly, my mother would not want me to follow my father’s footsteps. She wanted to train me to become an engineer, just like my grandfather. It was just funny that whenever we are going out to watch my dad perform, she always tries to get the farthest seat possible. Yet, in spite of these tactics, she failed. I still evolve to a young man dreaming of being a music professor some day.

This music teaching desire has urged me to pursue Music Education in college and because of my firm conviction; I was able to finish such degree with flying colors. And guess what, it is not my father who get on the stage with me to accept the honors; it was my mom.

After graduating college, I never wasted time. With my parent’s permission and financial support, I established my own music studio just beside our home in a vacant lot where my father used to teach guitars to our neighbors. I was able to attract four students initially.

It has not been so simple for me. I experienced many problems that almost compel me to quit music teaching. Yet, because it was my dream to help young people learn Music, I still gave myself a chance and look for ways to resolve the concerns that I am experiencing then.

My friend introduced me to a website that aims to help teachers manage their own music studios. I got their services only last year but until now, they were able to provide the necessary services I need to be an efficient music teacher, as I wanted to be.

See more resources in Music Teaching, log on to our Music Teachers Website.

My Passion for Music

November 18, 2008 at 10:29 am | Posted in My Experinces | Leave a comment
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Music has always been a passion for me…

I remembered once, my mother told me how hardly I could sleep without my father singing a lullaby. Yes, my father not my mom… She is more into logic. It is my dad who motivated me to have such passion for music.

Born with all those instruments all around the house, as well as those pictures of famous musicians like Beethoven and Strauss, I couldn’t imagine myself being hooked with other routines done by my friends then. Instead, I learned to love music even after my father died when I was still thirteen years old.

I first learned to play guitars (my mom bought it for me as a gift for being among the top ten students in my class). This also boosted my passion since my mom already accepted that I could not be an Engineer but rather I can do better if I pursue a career in Music.

Now that I have fulfilled my dreams of being a musician and a teacher, after those trying times, and together with my lovely wife, I may say that my passion for music has helped me a lot. In becoming a gentle person, a loving husband and father of two and a teacher with great motivation to let my students achieve their dreams and experience how music can also give substance to their lives.

Hope you will find time to read my future posts.

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