Published On: Mon, Oct 9th, 2017

How To Be More Than Just a Music Instructor

Engage

Keep your students interested and impassioned. Use reward systems, modern music, competition, performances, and peer-to-peer interaction to help keep students motivated. No kid wants the old-lady-smacking-your-hand-with-a-ruler approach. Repetitive drills and exercises will drain your students and may even dissuade them from continuing long-term. Remember that each student is an individual, and find the thing that makes them tick. The goal is to develop a lifelong passion for music and creativity, not to make lessons or practice feel like a chore.

Listen

Listen to your students, and not just what they’re playing. If they’re struggling in a certain area, don’t try to make them tackle the problem the way that you, as a musician, would. Let them explain to you why they are having trouble. Break it down with them. Try to solve the problem together instead of simply telling the student what you would do. Find the root of the problem instead of just looking at the problem itself.

Often times you’ll find that students are completely physically capable of completing a task, but their mind is the thing holding them back. Issues with focus, practicing, and confidence can be remedied by listening to the student’s concerns and working on a solution together.

Inspire

How do you inspire your students? How do you make them want to practice, improve, and persevere? The answer lies in you, the instructor. Each student is an individual. It is your job, as their teacher and mentor, to hone in on the thing that makes them really feel something, and help them tap into that. When helping a student with a particular piece of music, help them to not just understand the notes, but also the meaning and the tone that the composer was trying embody. Discuss with the student how the piece makes them feel. Let them express themselves through the music they are learning in their own way; don’t just project your idea of what you think the meaning is.

Share experiences-  talk about a time that you accomplished something and let them tell you their stories of achievement as well. Build them up. Reward not only improvement and achievement, but hard work, stepping outside of their comfort zones, and creativity as well.

Exemplify

Explain to your students that even though you are the teacher and they are the student, you are both musicians and in that, you are equal. Make sure the student understands that there is no end-goal to music. Even the greatest musicians of all time still experiment with new techniques, practice their craft, and continue searching for knowledge. They don’t continue down their path because they want to get to the end, but because they want to see what they are capable of along the way.

It is your job as an instructor to pass on the knowledge that you’ve attained on your musical journey thus far. Share with your students your passion for music and explain why it exists. Practice in front of them. In order for them to want to be a better musician, you have to show them that you want to be a better musician also

About the Author