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Teaching the youngster to feed

Oyster Catcher ~ Image by foxypar4 via Flickr

Every teacher has her/his own reasons in answer to the question ~ these are some of mine.

Although there are many roadblocks to participating in the arts these days, if we all remain enthusiastic and vigilant, I believe opportunities will remain.

So many schools have discontinued their arts programs and after-school offerings, I feel that it is more important than ever that I do my part.

Teaching ensures that I am not isolated.

My students don’t always agree with me.  That means that I have to back up what I say, be willing to listen, and make changes sometimes.

Future audiences are our students right now.

Future orchestra and chorus members, future teachers ~ think about it.  We have a huge responsibility.

What I want for my students

Some of my students have continued in the field.  Others will most likely not.  But everyone who studies music has something to contribute to the future of the arts.

to be able teach someone else their part, even conduct a sectional rehearsal

to be able to understand musical terms in a concert program and explain them to someone else

to be able to turn pages

to be able to fill in for a missing chorus part

to be equipped to find a good teacher for their kids

to recognize the importance of keeping the arts in schools and communities

to be better problem solvers by being able to use more than one approach

to realize that everyone thinks and learns differently, and be more compassionate

What teaching asks of me

teaching demands clarity

teaching requires a variety of approaches

teaching fosters ideas

teaching improves the quality of school and community music groups

Challenges I’ve encountered

One mother asked ~ demanded, really ~ whether her 8-yr.-old daughter would be a concert pianist.  I didn’t want to answer the question on her terms.  When I began explaining the benefits of being around music, the mother became adamant.  They stopped lessons the following week.

Teaching is not always a “win.”

Another mother told me her daughter was tone-deaf ~ not once, but at least in every other lesson.  One day my student, also age 8, lit up, flipped several pages in her book, and excitedly told me, “This sounds just like this!”  She was comparing phrases in two different pieces, at least 10 pages apart.

That’s not tone-deaf!  The mother had probably been told by her own music teacher, sometime in grade school, to sit in the back of the room and just mouth the words.  That is a very bad call, and has effects that last for a lifetime.  In this case, it even lasted into her daughter’s lifetime.

When a student has too much homework, or forgets to bring the music, or simply doesn’t practice, we have a lesson anyway.  I try to make it as much fun as possible, making up songs with the student, playing duets, clapping, walking around the room to different rhythms, playing rhythm instruments from my bookshelf ~ whistling if the student wants to do that!

One student always called musical symbols “thingies.”  When I inquired further, he always knew what each symbol meant.  So I decided he was trying to get my attention and tick me off a little.  It didn’t work.  I let him call everything a “thingy,” and he improved.  I thought that was a fair trade.

Another student who was in elementary school always told me he hated lessons.  But he always improved, and we had a good relationship.

Two things happened that made me proud.  When music groups played in his school, there were questions after the mini-performance (to see who had been paying attention).  He always knew the answers before anyone else.  And when he and his family attended a concert of mine, he ran over to me at intermission, gave me a big hug, and said, “This is even better than school!”

YES!!!  2 points!!!

Why do you teach?  Have you considered your motivation?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

While you’re here, please take a look at “Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer ~ how to make steady progress without getting stuck!  Now available at a reduced price!  Also available in print form.  Kindle version coming soon!

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