As a music teacher, I like to think of myself as the tour guide of a big city. The city is called Music City and it has many roads, highways and spectacular sights. There are many things to explore that help its visitors understand the bigger picture of what the city is capable of, it’s history and its purpose. Similarly, music teachers should endeavour to visit as many of the “musical roads” he or she is aware of to give their student the perspective and broader understanding they deserve.
At Music Central, we are all about showing kids the marvellous world of music. Our philosophy is to create a lesson environment where kids don’t just learn an instrument, but where they learn to become musicians with greater musical awareness. When teachers cultivate a musical lesson, the focus becomes broader and allows more topics and room for discussion in the lesson room. Making your lesson more musical could be the key that gives your student the motivation and positive experience they are looking for!
Here are five common examples of topics you can visit during your lesson. The next five can be found in Part Two.
- Music Theory.
Kids can benefit from learning theory because it strengthens communication, sight reading and problem solving when practicing. Theory does not have to be boring nor does it have to be graded. There are numerous books and apps that make theory fun and even competitive.
- Singing and Aural Training.
Being able to sing basic melody and rhythm is a good sign that your student has an internal awareness of music, or feel. The voice box is the only instrument attached to the body so it makes sense to get your students to learn the basics. Asking students to hum their scales or exercises is a simple way to improve their vocal confidence. Recognising simple intervals, or identifying changes in rhythmic patterns are also ways of helping your student develop better ears! Check out the ABRSM Aural training App.
Simple composition is a great way for students to appreciate their songs from another point of view. It also helps develop taste and personal preference in music. Writing a clapping rhythm, a melody or a chord progression are simple ways to show your student that composition is not as hard as they think. It will also give them an appreciation of how other song writers and composers approach the craft.
- Recording and Music Production.
One of the best ways for a student to improve is to hear themselves on playback. Using your phone to record scales or songs is a great way for them to listen objectively and critique their performance.
- Playing with Backing Tracks.
Playing/singing with backtracks helps students find their place in the bigger picture and learn how to be a team player. They learn where they fit in the mix, learn how to listen to the other players and most importantly, play in time! This can be as easy as asking parents to arrange a small stereo or headphones for the practice room.
We tend to teach best from what we know best, but the best teachers research the topics and areas they know least. Which of of these topics are your “Go to’s” and which ones could you unravel more yourself? I encourage you to visit your lesser known areas of ‘Music City’ in order to make your lesson a more diverse and inspiring time. Don’t worry if it takes time. Your exploring starts now!
Check out Part Two.