In private instruction, I feel that the primary focus must be the student’s enjoyment in making music. It is important to ensure that the student is developing technique, music literacy, ear training, and basic theory skills at all times, but this can always be done in fun, engaging ways. Although it is imperative to expose students to different styles of music, it is equally critical that the teacher is always including music that the student enjoys and that helps motivate them to learn. The use of improvisation and composition is an important part of my approach to teaching. I feel that too many music teachers avoid this aspect of music, treating it as something you do only once you have mastered music theory, ear training, and performing on an instrument. Composition and improvisation can be taught to students at all levels and it is these activities that are some of the most fun and expressive ways for people to make music. Setting goals with the student and keeping track of progress through regular “no pressure” assessments is an important facet of good instruction, and it can be aided with audio recording software and music learning software to help engage the student and keep records of their achievements. In all phases of teaching music in a private setting, the student’s happiness and creative expression are the most valuable and lasting goals. Making music is a fascinating and joyous process that all of us can excel in with some effort and positive guidance!
In the classroom, teaching music as part of a well rounded education program is imperative in our goal to develop culturally and artistically sensitive students. It is also an effective way to develop verbal and math skills using a direct, integrated multi-disciplinary approach to teaching music, math, and language skills. Teaching music in purely musical terms can also develop extra-musical learning and improve children’s aptitude for mathematics and language in an indirect way as research has indicated. In the course of human evolution, music developed concurrently with language and other cognitive abilities, and it should be taught as such to awaken children’s intrinsic musicality and capacity for logical and verbal expression. Music is an excellent tool for aiding students’ developing social skills and can also prove to be very beneficial in their emotional development. The benefits of a well developed music education program are innumerable and varied.
As a music teacher it is my responsibility to take full advantage of the power of music learning to enrich the developing mind. I am responsible for developing students’ appreciation and understanding of the value of music as an important part of all cultures. One way that I achieve this goal is by using music literature from a great variety of genres, time periods and cultures. I feel that it is especially important to emphasize music that reflects the specific diversity of the classroom. In this way, a teacher can impart the value of different cultures and instill in their students a sense of responsibility for learning about their own family’s history and culture as well as that of their fellow students. It will prepare them as musicians and music listeners for the idiosyncrasies of various styles and their socio-historical context rather than only preparing them for popular western music styles including 18th century classical music and the patriotic and folk songs of the United States. It helps them grasp different evaluative aesthetic viewpoints rather than using one ethnocentric standard criteria for evaluating and understanding a multitude of musical works from different cultures and periods in history. Though I do believe in the importance of maintaining North American music as a common thread since it is my responsibility to pass on these musical traditions to succeeding generations. My experience in studying and performing in different forms and styles such as jazz, popular, classical, and various types of world music is the perfect foundation for my varied teaching techniques and comprehensive approach to music education.