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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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:
- richardmccready: Every 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!