Teaching Tips

Tips for teaching music

Teaching is solving puzzles.  Of course, puzzles are meant to be a bit frustrating; otherwise they wouldn’t be as rewarding when we figure them out.  The question is, how do we handle the frustration part?

Thanks to AnaLise for a thought-provoking post last week about this. Her message was essentially that teachers need to be open-minded about learning how to respond constructively to their students, and to avoid resorting to anger, or even (I might add) more covert expressions of frustration.  I have to say I took issue with a few of her turns of phrase, though.  For example, if we were to buy into the notion that “high emotion equals low intelligence,” we’d have to figure that Beethoven was some kind of idiot! …In context, of course, she was trying to say that hot-headedness towards a student is not a smart way to get constructive results.  (As always, you are invited to join the discussion by adding a comment at the end of this or any post. Thanks for new comments from W.A. on Choosing an Instrument and from Joe on collecting student payments.)

Does there exist a teacher who hasn’t been frustrated at some time?  It’s in the nature of teaching, to push people to do things they haven’t done before.  There are always going to be students who don’t quite get it, or who don’t try very hard, or who despair, or backslide after achieving progress.

It’s important to note that teachers can also mix into their teaching frustrations that do not stem from their students.  [···]

Read More

If we take those two words, response and ability, and turn them around, we get the “ability to respond”.” Now we can define the word responsibility as the ability to respond to a situation. Every day we are faced with situations, we decide in each and every situation how we are going to respond, often this happens subconsciously in accordance to our ingrained beliefs.

When something happens and we perceive the outcome to be negative, our ability to decide how we want to respond to that outcome is vitally important. A negative reaction will increase the negativity that surrounds us, whereas a positive reaction will increase the positive energy that we seek to create. This is very true in teaching as well. It is not what situations we encounter but the grace we handle the situations with that determines the outcome.

It is sometimes difficult to respond positively to a negative situation, but a simple adjustment in perception and therefore attitude can change the situation from an issue to an opportunity.

For instance, it can be extremely frustrating if a student continually refuses to practice. Based on our new definition of “Responsibility” we have an immediate responsibility and can create a positive outcome or stir up negative energy. Choosing to be angered by the ill prepared student, will only attract more negative energy and to add insult to injury the student will probably not want to practice at all now. In short they have conditioned themselves to the fact that the consequence for not practicing is enduring a brief lecture. [···]

Read More

To fill our lives with joy is one of the best things we can do to improve the quality of our life. It is also rather simple to experience joy. I have found that it is often the small things in life that enable us to experience and connect with the feeling of joy.

Even the small gestures like a student remembering their instrument, receiving flowers, getting through to a student, hearing a student perfect a piece. These little experiences enable us to connect with the feeling of accomplishment.

With most things in life, it is difficult to reach your goal immediately after leaving the starting block. The best and most efficient way of filling your life with what you want, is to start small and do it consistently. Every day build on the day before, gradually increasing until you reach your goal. So, every day, celebrate the little steps that your students are taking to towards a goal that the two of you have set together. Know and experience the joy that you both feel as you move towards your goal.

The more you connect with the joy of progressing towards your goal, the more of your goal you will attract to you. Don’t focus on any set backs or obstacles that seem to hinder the progress towards your goal. Find a solution to your obstacle, and then celebrate your solution. Break the goal into small manageable and accessible steps. Daily steps are the most rewarding, as you can then celebrate every day, although weekly may work better to celebrate with the students.

Make it a weekly habit to celebrate the step forward you have taken towards your goal. It takes twenty one days to create a habit. Challenge yourself to find twenty one things about your students to celebrate for the next twenty one days. Your mind will start to attract success on a daily basis going forward because you have already become attractive to success, and you will see the change in your students as well.

Read More