Me and baby Ethan, in 2002
If you've never taught private music lessons before, but you want to get started, what do you do?
Many schools of music or studios require some teaching background before they will hire you as a teacher. So HOW do you get teaching experience?
1. Familiarize yourself with different method books. Go to a music store and sit down with a stack of beginner books. Read through them. Play the music. Identify the teaching methodology and what each series focuses on. Compare and contrast.
2. Write down your philosophy of teaching. If you've taken years and years of lessons, you likely know what you liked about certain teachers and what you disliked. What motivated you? What encouraged you to keep on? What do you believe every musician should know and learn? Write this down and continue to tweak it on your journey as a teacher.
3. Offer free lessons to a friend. You have to get experience SOMEWHERE. Talk to a neighbor or a friend. Practice teaching on them! Get your feet wet. Any experience is better than none! There are inner city programs that offer free music lessons to disadvantaged kids. Sign up to teach! You will learn as much as the kids do and your heart will swell with giving these kids a chance to learn music.
4. Google Search. Read about teaching lessons. Get your hands on as much knowledge as you can about learning styles and structuring lessons. Knowledge is power!
Don't give up on your dream of teaching. It DOES take time to get started. But once you start, the effect is like a snowball....and soon your schedule will be FULL! Just START!
Jen has been teaching for 17 years! Here she is pictured with her son, Ethan, in 2008, after a piano recital. She has taught in her mom's home, her apartment, her townhouse, and in students' homes. She's taught kids as young as 4 and retired adults. She loves teaching and has a passion to help young teachers build their studios. Click here to read the 10 Secrets she's learned throughout the years.
The last few times I've gone to the studio, my 10 year old son, Elias, has asked to come along. I love one-on-one time with my kids, so of course I agreed.
I soon figured out that the reason he was tagging along was to carefully take the guitar off the wall (that is for sale) and practice his guitar songs. He finally told me that this guitar made practicing so much easier and that he could see his fingers! Even though I own a music school, I had no idea that his guitar was actually too big for him. It had resulted in tears during practice time and much frustration.
This week, we took the guitar off the wall and purchased it. He has been SO happy to practice daily.
The TOOLS you use and the INSTRUMENT you play on makes such a big difference! If you’re feeling frustration, maybe it’s something simple that can be fixed.
Questions about your instrument? Just ask your teacher...or ask me on Facebook! I’m happy to connect with you!
If you haven’t been through it yet, you will! The inevitable. . . “I want to quit!” What can you do to prevent your child from (most likely) making the same mistake you did as a child musician? Here are some helpful hints to keeping music in the house:
Find out the real reason behind wanting to quit. Is your child overloaded with too many activities? Are they progressing and the music feels too difficult? Are they bored with their music? Is there a problem between student and teacher?
Talk to the teacher immediately. Let us know how the student is feeling and see if you can come up with a game plan together. There are many creative things teachers can do, if we know what is really going on at home!
Encourage your child that anything worthwhile takes effort and discipline. The road won’t be easy at times, but it will definitely be worth it in the end!
Remember that not every child is destined to have a career in music or even make it to an advanced level. THAT’S OKAY! However, we want to remove any desire of quitting, if we can!
We’re here to help you out. . .please let us know what we can do for you!
Students will inevitably say these fatal words, but we can persuade them otherwise. Challenge them to look at the problem differently, slow down, concentrate on counting out loud, or isolate measures (or hands, for piano students).
KEEP WORKING until they realize they "CAN!" After they have conquered an area of a song, point out that it was once tricky and that now they have mastered it! This builds confidence! If we constantly plow forward, and never take time to look back at our successes, it can feel like an endless uphill battle.
Another great strategy is to pull out music about 1 year behind what they are currently playing. Ask the student to sightread. When they do so effortlessly, remind them that this was once hard! The light-bulb moment and bright smile will encourage them to keep moving forward with the current difficulty.
As the saying goes, if you fall off a horse, get right back on! Saying "I can't" actually shuts down the brain and turns into a complete lack of confidence. The fact is, they usually can. Have them say the words, "This is hard, but I can do it!"
When you believe in your students, and they believe in themselves, you will see success!
My oldest son has never done anything the traditional way. I don’t know why I expected piano to be any different for him.
When Ethan was 2 years old, he could barely say 5 words, but he could balance on a skateboard perfectly. He never fell. When other kids were learning to write their name in Kindergarten, he would rather be clamoring up the giant oak tree in our front yard. Ethan hated books like “Go, Dog, Go.” He thought they were pointless. He would rather learn about knights and Egyptians. It was like pulling teeth to teach him to read. Now he’s in an advanced writing program and reads at grade level. Ethan has never liked balloons or rub-on tattoos or stickers. He’d rather come up with the next great business plan!
When Ethan was 7, I started him in piano lessons at our Studio. I was shocked. Despite his struggles with reading, he excelled at reading music. In fact, I believe it helped his reading and attention span. Ethan did great in his lessons for 3 years. Then, last year, he started pushing back and resisting his assignments and was even resisting going to lessons. I realized that his true love is composing original music and had a great talk with his teacher about this. We both agreed that he needed more “tools” to write music: understanding the relationship between scales and chords and the structure of writing music. She even threw in some fun 7th, 9th, and 11th chords. Ethan was hooked. Instead of fighting me, he now sits down at the piano 4-5 times a day. He is composing original music, recording it on our Flip recorder, and even uploading songs onto Facebook and Vimeo. He wants the world to know about his music. He says, “My music expresses the mood I’m in. Playing piano is one of my favorite things to do.” Now THAT made my day!
Teachers--listen to your students! Tailor each lesson to their learning style and individual passions. Giving students a customized path of learning will yield great dividends of success!
When I was just 6 years old, my mom brought me to my first piano teacher. I was so excited! As I entered her home for the first time, however, my excitement turned to confusion and then fear. The entryway was a split level, dark, and both sets of stairs were blocked with baby gates. I very quickly learned that the gates were for the teacher’s huge, Black Lab. I was terrified of dogs. Each week it became an adrenalin-rushed game: hop over the baby gate and run downstairs to the massive antique, out-of-tune piano, with my heart pounding ferociously, before the dog could lunge at me, barking through the gate.
I learned my first recital piece with that teacher. I’ll never forget it: “Oh, Come, Little Children,” given to me on photo-copied paper. It was at that recital that my mom realized none of the students were memorizing their music, or playing the rhythm of the music correctly.
Because my mom was a musician and music teacher herself, I never went back to that house for lessons. And so began my journey of my mom trying out various teachers, always to pull me out after a recital, when her strong musical knowledge told her the teacher was not teaching the correct, foundational skills needed to properly learn the piano. In the interim, my mom would continue to give me lessons at home, until we found a very talented professor of music at Northwestern College who finally set me upon the correct path in 9th grade.
It was out of this experience that motivated me to start a school of music in which students can learn music correctly from the beginning. Most students are not privileged to have two musical parents who can strongly discern if a teacher is qualified and teaching correctly. My passion is to carefully screen each teacher so families at Signature School of Music
can TRUST that their experience is the very best possible. Not only are our teachers qualified, but they are friendly, and our studio is bright, cheery, and conducive for learning! Our mission is to offer top-quality musical experiences for every member of the family!
If you're a teacher and would like to learn more about the secrets I've discovered about teaching music, request your free report!
ALL students need rewards! Stickers are an easy and affordable way to reward young students!
Here's how I incorporate stickers into my lessons:
Award a sticker immediately after a song is completed. This is like an instant pat on the back saying, "Good job!"
It may seems like a small thing, but hand the student the sticker and let the student put the sticker on the reward sheet. This reinforces the JOB WELL DONE and makes them an active participant in the reward, instead of just passively watching you fill up a sticker chart.
Should they get a sticker? I expect my students to display correct notes, dynamics, fingering, and expression before they get the sticker. BUT, we are all human! If they corrected their mistakes for you, GIVE 'EM A STICKER! We don’t want kids to be discouraged! Sometimes I see teachers reward kids too quickly and sometimes I see teachers frustrate kids by assigning the same songs week after week. It's a hard balance and each student has different needs!
What ages like stickers? I find that middle-schoolers (even thought they won't admit it!) still enjoy a fun sticker. Heck, I would still like someone to give ME a gold star for a job well done!
For information on my Incentive Packs, Sticker Sheets, and other music teacher resources, just request my FREE REPORT.
Music Teachers: How on earth do you get everything packed into a 30 minute lesson??
If you've ever asked yourself this question, this is for you! Here are some easy tips to make your lessons more effective and how to STAY ON TIME.
· Keep things moving. . .Always think ahead to what is coming next.
· Have all books and assignments ready to go.
· Have the student open their books to the right page. . .they’ve seen these songs all week—they should know where they are! (My favorite tip: Use a paperclip or Post-It note "flag" to mark each page.)
· Give yourself 10-15 minutes remaining in the lesson to go over NEXT week’s assignment. My favorite saying is "Teach with prevention, not just correction!"
· Have them sightread the majority of their pieces (and at least a portion of all) that you want them practicing during the week.
· Correct theory assignments while they play for you.
· Choose new songs while they are busy doing something else.
· Involve them to help keep the lesson moving.
· The pace of the lesson is the key to getting it all done!