What Are The Fundamentals of Teaching Elementary Music?

mr a music place

Version 2Whether you will be starting your music teaching career next fall, are assuming your first ever elementary music position after previously teaching at another level or an instrumental program, or are a seasoned elementary music teacher who benefits from reminders and self-challenges (that’s me, by the way), I thought it would be helpful to go over the nuts and bolts of what goes into teaching elementary music. There are  several approaches or philosophies that most of us are familiar with, including Kodaly, Gordon, Orff, and Dalcroze, and there several published curriculum or packages that many find beneficial. What I will discuss today overlays all of these. I see these as means to an end, and I will be discussing mostly the end, the goal of an elementary music program. While I have my preferences, it is more important that you meet the goals with your students than with which philosophy…

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5 Amazing Benefits of Classical Music🎼


Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate

Audio version available | Click here

“Music is the universal language of mankind” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Around my house I am known as the music man. I have the habit of walking around with my iPhone in my pocket playing music on Spotify. I love all music because it makes me feel happy and alive. Research shows that classical music is exceptionally beneficial for your brain and overall health. The way classical music affects the brain is universal regardless of gender, class or nationality. Wouldn’t it be great if listening to Beethoven or Mozart could unite us all?

Here are  5 ways classical music benefits us all:

1. Improves your focus
Numerous studies have shown that listening to classical music such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven can improve focus. Complex and continuously changing melodies can help the mind focus by keeping it engaged. When your…

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3 Questions to ask yourself before taking music lessons - musiclessonscalifornia.com

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons

I think everyone should learn how to play an instrument. I also believe that if a student learns to play the piano first they will be able to easily transition to a new instrument in the future. Many time parents sign up their kids for lessons but they haven’t taken in to account everything that goes into learning to play an instrument.

Music teachers that are serious about teaching and wanting to see their students excel are spending a lot of time behind the scenes getting ready for the lessons that your student will be taking.  There are lessons to be planned. Identifying the learning style of your child and adapting the lesson to fit. You music teacher is developing creative ways to encourage your child so they are having fun and enjoying their lesson time. Teachers that have a music studio in their home provide snacks for the after school lessons to give the kids energy and focus.

I personally spend one to three hours a week of “behind the scene” time preparing for each student.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons - musiclessonscalifornia.com

Let’s take a look at my three identifiers.

Do you have the time in your schedule for a weekly lesson?

Take a look at your calendar and ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Where will a lesson fit in my schedule?
  2. Do I have the time in my schedule to get the student to the lesson on time?
  3. Do I have time in my schedule for a complete lesson or will I need to cut it short because it will be up against another activity?

Do you have the time in your schedule for daily practice sessions?

Not only do you need time in your schedule for a thirty to sixty minute lesson, you need to have time in your schedule for thirty minute practice sessions each day.

To learn to play an instrument properly a student must practice at least thirty minutes each day. Just like with anything in life that is worth doing, you have to take the time to learn and practice. There is nothing more frustrating for a teacher than to have to continue teaching a piece of music for two to four lessons in a row because a student wouldn’t practice. That is two to four weeks your student is spending on a one piece they could have mastered in two days. That is a waste of time not only for you but for the teacher.

I recently had two students come back to me for a review and extra coaching. These students took lessons from me for years but they didn’t want to practice and they wouldn’t learn music theory. Both students told me that they now see what they missed out on by not practicing like I instructed them to do. They are behind other musicians in their playing abilities who have been studying and playing for the same amount of time. One of them is playing the clarinet and doesn’t have the lung capacity needed to play a challenging piece of music. Practicing every day for thirty minutes would have taken care of that. The other student learned to play piano and guitar. She wouldn’t practice and didn’t want to learn to read music or learn music theory. Now, she doesn’t like it that she is struggling trying to learn new music on her own. Don’t get me wrong. These musicians are good, but they could be so much better if they would have been encouraged to practice at home.

Do you have the time to listen to the music that your student is learning?

On my practice sheets that I send home with my students I have a spot for the parents to sign that they have listened to the student play their assignments. This is a good practice for three good reasons.

  1. You get to hear and see your child perform. You can tell if they need more practice before the next lesson.
  2. Your child will become more comfortable with playing for other people.
  3. This gets you involved in developing your child’s talent. You are telling them that this is important to you. You are showing them that you enjoy listening to them. (As your child develops this talent you will also love watching them play. Seeing their hands move across a keyboard with ease or watching them play a guitar and their fingers flying on the strings, like butter, is impressive.)

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons - brendamueller.com

If you can say “Yes” to these three questions then you are ready to get signed up for music lessons.