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It’s that time of year to take stock of ourselves, and think about doing better next year–a great time to think in fresh ways, about our teaching, about our students, about our own playing.

It’s a chance to refresh how we introduce various techniques or pieces, especially if we ever find ourselves feeling tired of any of them. Replace one or more of these with a new piece or a new angle. Spend a little time researching ideas of other teachers; the internet is a great resource for this, and there might be a post on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog that can set new ideas percolating for you. The new search function is a terrific tool for this.

Look also at other blogs or posts; for example here’s one list of 10 New Year’s resolutions for music students. If you like these, you could share them with students.

As we make New Year’s resolutions to move on, improve, and renew our efforts, we usually try to avoid recriminations about past mistakes. Let’s apply those same ideas to our teaching: [···]

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Kids love music, and if exposed to good playing, they love all kinds of music.  But, sadly, Michelle is probably on target in her recent post (Using Technology to Teach Classical Music) when she says kids do not look forward to studying about classical music.  Why should that be?  What is not exciting about Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Beethoven, Copland, to name a few?  Is it a teaching problem fixable by technology, or a cultural problem?

Years ago I saw a survey about kids’ musical preferences in a major newspaper.  Kids were asked what their favorite music was, but of all the types of music they were allowed to choose from, two notable types were missing: classical and folk.  Instead I noticed a category called “slow music,” which of course did not receive many votes.  Why did researchers offer kids the choice of “slow music” and leave out classical or folk?  They didn’t even kids a chance to answer for themselves.

I explored the “slow music” question while doing some music demonstrations for 7th graders.  When asked what “slow music” was, some kids said it was classical.  So I played them a slow Scottish fiddle air, and then a fast classical violin piece by Bach.  This intrigued them.

Sometimes the presumptions of researchers–or teachers, parents, and administrators–put words in kids’ mouths, and ideas in their heads.  Of course, this is what teachers and parents are supposed to do.  But in catering to what we presume to be the interests of kids, is it possible we sometimes merely follow instead of lead?   [···]

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