Music teachers have a challenging job of always keeping lesson material fresh and exciting, to inspire and motivate their students to continually learn and create. It’s not often the case that students who sign up for music lessons are one and done. Lessons are a long term commitment for both students and teachers. Over time, students build skills and learn a variety of material, concepts, and songs and teachers exhaust a repertoire of teaching methods to engage and entertain students in order to keep their motivation high.
What happens when teachers run out of ways to keep the material interesting? What happens when students begin to lose interest, motivation, or the commitment to what they once found so fascinating? What happens when the efficacy of lessons begins to wane because teachers lack the energy or students are no longer able to pay close attention or the disinterest creeps in?
What makes a good music lesson?
This is somewhat of a subjective question, but conventional wisdom might suggest a few key factors that define success. Content of the curriculum is certainly an important factor, as is the steady development and engagement factor of your students. In all, a good music lesson can have the following characteristics: constant positivity, engaging activities, focusing on student’s tastes, performance opportunities, writing original music, incorporating movement, and using games or rewards.
Curriculum content needs to be laid out in a way that is thoughtful, sequential, and builds of prior knowledge, experience, and developed skills. For that reason, planning is critically important, and having goals and a direction will make the lessons far more successful than without.
Beyond having core content that develops strong skills and fundamentals, it’s important to address the needs and goals of the students. No two students are the same, and therefore the goals that are being worked towards may be dramatically different. Using examples and repertoire consistent with their musical tastes and preferences will generate more success and more buy-in from students, rather than covering material in which there is no interest.
Good music lessons always leave time to answer questions and get feedback. It’s uncommon for any student in any subject to fully understand every bit of information shared during the lesson without a need for some clarification. Students have questions. Students need extra support. Leave time to go over ideas and new material so there are no misunderstandings or misdirection after the lesson is over.
How can I teach music more creatively?
Teaching more creatively means thinking outside the box. Delivering information in a dry, monotonous way will bore students and lead to low engagement and motivation. Teachers must think outside the box to find creative ways to share information.
Whether using holidays as a backdrop for fun and exciting themes and repertoire, or employing games to engage young students and hold their interest, there are many ways to get creative. It’s important to find engaging ways to teach music in order to keep the interest level high and the material fresh and exciting. Themed music lessons can be very appealing and provide significant differentiation from one lesson to the next. Considering the interests and hobbies of the students can provide ideas and insight into what appeals to them and how a teacher can turn that into creative teaching methods.
How can I make music lessons more fun?
Teaching will be far more effective if it is fun. Fun music lessons inspire both kids and adults to engage further. If a student is having fun, there is a far better chance the playing and practice will continue well beyond the lesson and translate into more practice time.
To make music lessons fun, teachers can include more activities for engagement, performance opportunities, movement exercises, fun and interactive games, and songwriting! Music is a language and an art, and being creative is the name of the game.
Songwriting is a fantastic way to get students learning notes, rhythms, and understanding harmonic and melodic concepts. It can also give them something to be proud of after the lesson is over, an original piece of art that they can call their own. For young kids, it may be important to incorporate movement exercises into lessons while teaching rhythms so they can learn to feel the pulse and meter. Hand clapping, foot stomping, and even dancing are great methods to bring rhythms to life! Music theory games are a popular way to learn note recognition and other theoretical concepts using a rewards based system.
How do you engage students in an online learning class?
Engaging students in an online class can be a bit more challenging than in-person. Without the physical nuance of body language and general in-person interactivity, keeping a student’s attention fully engaged online comes with inherent challenges. This is where preparation can be key to having a fun and engaging online learning experience. Creative virtual music lessons will hold attention longer and be more effective than trying to simply teach the same way as an in person class.
One method is to prepare digital music games to share and use in real time on-screen during the lesson. Virtual music activities will be necessary since the whole interaction is online. Music theory flashcards are a great example of this. The trivia aspect keeps students on their toes while needing to be fully tuned in, in order to have success at the game. Using regards systems like points can help control students’ behaviors and steer them towards certain preferred activities. Having on-screen infographics and notated music to follow can further engage students and help them to pay close attention without succumbing to distractions.
Lean on a team or professional learning community to help
For any music teacher looking for new ways to engage students and find creative, fun ways to teach music, professional learning communities and organizations can help. Forbes Music Company leverages the experience and expertise of it’s teaching partners to provide helpful feedback, ideas, and resources for everyone to take advantage of.
From sheet music to virtual, online games and digital software, Forbes Music has a variety of things that can enhance any teaching practice for the benefit of their students. Learn about ways Forbes Music can help you teach, engage, and enrich the lives of your students.