Piano, Violin, Viola & Cello Lessons
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Lesson Info Email: David@cranemusicstudios.com
Serving Salt Lake and Utah Counties -- Phn:801-599-9710

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Being Yourself as a Teacher

Over the last 17-18 years I have been teaching, I have realized that my teaching has changed dramatically. Mostly, I have become more confident in my own abilities and philosophies. Not every teacher is for every student. Rather than trying to mold my teaching philosophies around what others expectations, I stick to my guns and teach the way that I like. When you do this, you have to openly accept that there are some out there that will completely disagree with you, and that's okay.

For example, I had a transfer student who's mother was insistent that he be in a program like the Royal Conservatory Program he had studied under in Canada. They wanted me to teach him with that method. She thought he needed the structure to keep him focused. I could clearly see that he was above needing a graded method. It would only hold him back. So I didn't teach him that way. In the short time I taught him, he went from Level 5 to the equivalent of Level 7 or 8. However, his mother, who was living out of the country and couldn't see the progress he was making decided to put him with a teacher that used one of these types of methods. In the end, there is no use arguing.

This does not mean you get stuck in your ways and don't structure each students program to their needs. I will teach a boy differently from a girl because they learn differently. The trick is not to get stuck in one method or program. You must understand what it takes to be a good musician and then use the best materials to teach your students these principles. It involves a great deal of flexibility.

Personalities also vary. I remember sitting in pedagogy class (a college class on learning how to teach music.) and hearing my teacher talk about how sarcasm doesn't work and should be left completely out of teaching children. In a way she is correct, malicious, depreciating sarcasm has no place in teaching. However, I find light-hearted almost joking sarcasm works very well for me. As music teachers we obviously would appeal to very different groups of students.

You win some and you lose some. Some students will love you and others will not. You have to be yourself, because every student can tell when you're not being sincere. The point is to teach them the best way you know how, and help them love the music.