Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Look backwards, then forwards

It’s the start of a new school year on my side of the world, which means that it’s time to reflect on my goals and plans for teaching in the coming year. The first thing I do when making new goals and resolutions is to first look backwards at the year just finished. In order to create realistic goals for 2012, I need to assess what worked and what didn’t in my teaching in 2011. In doing so, you need to be completely honest with yourself, which can sometimes be hard to do. If something didn’t work out the way you had planned you need to figure out why this is so. Did you not prepare materials adequately? Were you too fast-paced for the students’ needs? Are you catering to the interests and needs of individual students or are you taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach?

It’s also important to consider your personal professional development. Did you expand your musical knowledge last year? How many teaching or music-related books, blogs, articles or forums did you read? How many seminars, master classes and conferences did you attend? How many performances did you give? How many concerts did you attend? How many colleagues have you bounced ideas off?

One you have an accurate idea of what works and what doesn’t work in your teaching studio, start to think about things you would like to expand on or develop this year. The next step is crucial – don’t just think about your goals, take action. If you would like to go to two conferences this year, google them, note down the registration dates and block out the times in your calendar. If you aim to be more prepared for your lessons, block out time in your schedule each week to make this happen. If you want to read more music books check out your local library or order them online. Don’t just look them up and then fail to act. Finally, I schedule a reminder every week or fortnight to read over my assessment of last year and my goals for this year. This is the key to keeping on track for me. If you have any further tips or goals please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Image: aopsan /

About the Author

Nicole Murphy
Nicole Murphy is a pianist and composer residing in Queensland, Australia. She has been teaching both piano and composition privately and in schools for over 8 years, with students currently ranging in age from four years to eighty-five years. She holds a Bachelor of Music (Honours Class I) from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and is currently working towards a Masters of Music. As a freela... [Read more]

1 Comment

  1. Eric Beaty

    This is very useful information, Nicole. I find myself wanting to step back and see what I can do better. Fortunately, this year I now have time to schedule more students due to a much-wanted lay-off. I’m getting calls for lessons and taking action on things that are slightly out of my comfort zone.

    For instance, all last year I taught lessons in 30 minute increments, but just the other day I was requested by a potential student to do hour-length lessons. Immediately I begin to doubt my abilities to come up with the material needed for an hour but I’ve learned that sometimes you just gotta delve in and force yourself out of your comfort zone. Have a little confidence in yourself and your abilities.

    Thanks for such a wonderful article. If I could add it to a “favorites” list via MTH I most certainly would. Here’s to a prosperous 2012!

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