Music Lessons and Planning

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall

This is a music education website. If you haven’t realised that yet, apologies.

We are the music educator – all things music education.

And it’s time that we talked about effective planning.

In music education, both in private lessons and classrooms, there is a continual problem.

Almost everyone who is a music teacher has had a music education spanning back to about the age of 4, maybe a bit older. Essentially, we have been indoctrinated in music education since we were very small.

In teacher training there’s an adage that claims that if you aren’t careful, you will continue to teach the way you were taught, whether or not that was the best way to do it.

It holds true. If I am not deliberate, I simply recreate what was made for me when I was young.

In other words, it all comes back to your planning.

Every music lesson should be planned.

I’ll say it again.

Every music lesson should be planned.

I do not say this to add to your workload, but rather to lighten it.

Planning does not have to be this impossible task that we are faced with every week. Rather, it should be an opportunity to ensure that you are maximising your time teaching, limiting work for yourself outside of lessons.

I will say what I always say; we should be focused on the learning, not just the product.

If you do not go into a music lesson with clear learning outcomes, then you are not teaching effectively. Over time, this becomes easier.

For example, for a weekly piano lesson with a 7-year-old, we were working on three goals. One, to be able to read music. Two, to be able to coordinate both hands at the same time on the piano. Three, to be able to control dynamics.

These are basic goals. But I knew that was what she needed at the time. So every week, through different activities, we worked on those goals. I didn’t need to sit down and write out a full lesson plan. I did need to know what I wanted her to learn.

In the end, this lightened my work load, because I did not try to achieve everything at once, in the pursuit of a perfect performance. I knew, from research and discussion with colleagues, what she needed next, and focused on those skills.

You can do the same. A perfect performance is wonderful sometimes, but if our learning outcome is ‘to play this piece of music’ we are missing the point. That is not the learning.

The learning is the technique, the musicality, the skills required to play it.

How do you, as an instrumental music teacher, keep track of this? Well, effective lesson notes can help; this resource might be for you!

Ultimately, it will depend on you. I personally create a small table, recording the goals for each of my students (maximum 3 at a time), so that I can check back to remind myself what we should be focusing on.

There’s a new resource currently being created to support you with this, so subscribe if you want an alert when it’s ready!

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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