An interesting chat last night! Mostly read tweets due to some internet problems and because of my non-teacher-ness.  However, I do have some thoughts regarding teaching younger students outside a classroom setting!

This weeks topic: How can we teach PreK/Kindergarten students valuable music techniques while keeping them engaged?

From teaching private lessons to younger students, I learned some key factors that determine the student’s motivation and continuing interest:

  1. If it’s not fun, they don’t want to continue. To grab their attention you need to be a little more “silly” while still having structure and order to your lessons. Humor is a great way to keep the student engaged. If I could make them laugh, I found that they were more interested in what I had to say about anything else.
  2. Give them something they can recognize. Once you go through all the basic techniques, (such as how to hold the instrument, parts of the instrument, basic fingering, a collection of basic notes), teach them a familiar song or tune that they know using those notes. For smaller kids, Mary Had A Little Lamb, or Christmas songs always hit the spot. For kids in elementary school (and any older age really!) give them a popular tune from the radio that they can play. When they recognize that they are playing something “real” they want to keep learning!
  3. They need constant encouragement. If you teach them a G Major scale and it sounds like something closer to a Z-flat chromatic/maybe melodic minor ditty, commend them for trying! Some students take longer than others to tap into their musical brain, so regardless of the outcome, praise them for giving it a try!
  4. If your lesson is in the morning, eat breakfast prior to the lesson! This is really just a personal story that made me laugh. One time I was running late and couldn’t grab something to eat, but I figured, “Hey, it’s a half hour lesson…I’ll just pick something up on the way home…probably Dunkin Donuts…yes, great idea.” So I’m teaching the cutest little 1st grade girl the notes on the D string of the violin, and my stomach growled quite audibly. I decided to ignore it and keep going, but naturally, why would they have made a TV show if kids didn’t say the darndests things? The conversation went a little like this:

Student: “What was that?”

Me: “Oh, that was my stomach. Miss Lindsay woke up late and missed breakfast.”

Student: “Wow. That was VERY loud.”

Me: “Yes…I am VERY hungry.”

Although I find it easier to relate to older students, teaching younger kids is a lot of fun. I love to get kids excited about music early in their life so that maybe it will continue to be something they love! You can learn a lot from teaching different age groups.

Some favorite quotes of the night:

  • richardmccreadyEvery child is born an artist. The trick is to keep him so. (Picasso, not me )
  • thomasjwest: Studies show that young minds absorb & establish neural patterns readily up until about age 9.
  • ABODAQ: All edcuation is a partnership between teachers, students and parents, no matter the age.

If you are interested in getting involved in #MusEdChat check out MusicEdMajor.net – the chat is held on Twitter on Monday nights at 8pm EST. It’s a great deal of fun and knowledge from musicians and educators around the world!