Independence in classroom music

teacher asking a question to the class

There are so many worthwhile conversations going around right now about classroom music. How can we teach valuable skills? Should we change what we are teaching? And the slightly more frustrating, but ever important discussion of the importance of teaching music in the first place.

This topic, though, I think is one of the most frustrating topics for teachers.

How do I encourage independence in a music classroom, when students cannot move on without my input?

Music teaching is exhausting, partly because it requires so much input throughout the entire lesson. I am by no means saying that teachers shouldn’t have to engage in the lesson. They should. But the difficulty of a music classroom is that everyone often requires ongoing input, rather than being able to move around and support students individually.

The answer to all of this lies, as it usually does, in effective music lesson planning. The reason why your students are not independent is not their lack of capability.

It’s that you are not giving them a task that is achievable for them to complete independently.

In other words, we are not very often willing to give up control of our music classroom.

I have been in this position. Rather than allow a tiny bit of chaos to reign, I have exhausted myself by being up the front the entire lesson, not getting students to stay still and listen by any means, but definitely not relinquishing my control over their choices.

The biggest cost paid in this bargain is your own. Your energy cannot sustain throughout the day at that level. The students will very often enjoy the lesson, but it is not sustainable for you.

So what then, can we do? What music activities can actually be independent in a music classroom?

The answer is many. Remember that the outcome is not always a beautiful performance, but rather rich and powerful learning. Their independent learning should not be something new that they have never before tried; it should be something that they have already learned how to do, that they can do mostly without assistance, to reinforce their learning.

It’s time for me to offer up a humble example of one such task. This task is for students who are comfortable with technology, reading, and understand the concept of electronic creation of music. As it’s classic free resource Thursday, today you can download it, for free! May it lighten your load of planning, teaching and classroom management.

Oh no, it looks like you missed out on our free resource! Don’t worry, if you look through our most recent blog posts, you will probably find another one, and it’s always available in the shop.

Feeling overwhelmed with the never-ending responsibilities of a music teacher? Us too! Go to our shop to find reasonably priced music education resources designed by experts to make your life easier.

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