Teaching Tips

Tips for teaching music

Connie, from Connie’s Violin Page, has recently archived several sets of informal surveys from music teachers around the world.

I found it very interesting to see what other teachers in different parts of the world charge for lessons, what their practicing habits are, and what students think makes a good teacher.

Take a look at the results! Maybe you’ll find something useful to help you in your own studio. [···]

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teaching musical expression

I wonder sometimes about all those dynamics markings. Crescendo, pianissimo,
forte, mezzo forte. They give us a good sense of what the composer wanted, or
what the editor suggests. It’s important to know how to honor those ideas and
do them justice.

But how far do we go with them? Are they like clicks on a volume-control knob? Do we play at a marked volume until a new symbol appears? How much personal interpretation do we allow ourselves, or allow our students?

Do you treat expression as a higher level technique, something that is only added once more fundamental techniques are mastered? Or do you regard expression as fundamental, and if so, how and when do you incorporate it into lessons?

This question struck me suddenly one time when I was judging a high-level  [···]

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teaching classical music

No matter how beautiful the notes, it’s timing that’s at the heart of the music, so it’s no wonder many players tap their toes. Notes played badly but with good timing still present a recognizable piece of music, whereas notes played beautifully but with careless or unanchored timing can be confusing to listen to, or even unidentifiable.  (See my blog of 10/10.)

How do we make certain of good timing?

There are many angles to that question but for the moment, I’d just like to comment on how musicians reinforce the beat with physical movements, such as tapping feet.

I’ve often noticed that those who play with the clearest sense of timing move physically in some way, as they play. Those who have trouble with timing almost invariably sit or stand nearly motionless.  It seems that even a little motion in time to the music can bring a player down to earth, away from constant worries about how to do everything, and into the realm of feeling the music.

Probably the most important way to reinforce timing is by  [···]

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