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Widen out!

photo: crazyad0boy

No, I’m not talking about my ever expanding waistline, although that has widened out at an alarming rate these past years!

I’m talking about the type of lessons we offer as music teachers. How very easy it is to be stuck in a rut. The longer you’ve been teaching, the harder it can be to change. But society is changing at an alarming rate and so are the interests and needs of our students. Today’s music students are tomorrow’s musicians. What skills do they need? What will be the musical landscape of the future?

I think I was guilty of descending into a rut with my teaching. I’d found a formula and subconsciously, I was sticking with it. A couple of months ago though, I stumbled on the syllabus of another examination board that I hadn’t used before. What they were teaching was different, refreshingly so. Once the can of worms was opened, I started investigating other exam boards. What a pleasant discovery!

I realize that not every student wants to take an exam. I always mentioned exams only as an optional to my students. Using syllabuses or picking and mixing from several different syllabuses can bring much need structure and direction to lessons.

Have you tried to widen out?!? Can you try using another exam syllabus or music book series? Can you use more music technology in your lessons? Are there more genres you can offer? Would more ensemble or performing opportunities help prepare your students for a career in music? Could you offer training in using music software like Sibelius, Finale, NoteFlight, Logic, Garageband, Cubase or Protools? How about making opportunities for your more experienced students to teach younger students? Could some simple and cheap instruments like shakers, tambourines, glockenspiels etc add a little sparkle to the lessons?

Change has excited my students. Many are trying “tasters” and are really enjoying the new challenges they’ve opted for. It’s been really exciting for me too with lots of new materials and ideas that I am currently developing. A simple exercise was for me to type up a list of music courses that I now offer and put it on my studio wall. Students and parents have been able to see all the options available and inquire about what they would like to try.

So try it! Widen out on your music teaching journey. Try another route. Add some sparkle into your daily teaching routine!

About the Author

Reuben Vincent
Reuben Vincent is a freelance musician working as a composer, producer and private music teacher, based from his purpose built recording studio in Bagillt, Flintshire, North Wales, UK. His main instrument is the piano although he is also known for a "mean" solo on the Kazoo!!!