‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’
The rest of the quote reads: ‘but oftentimes better than a master of none.’
My personal aim, is ‘jack of some trades‘.
But why not all?
As an educator in any field, it is certainly tempting to make sure you can do everything. That you don’t need to pay for anyone else’s resources, that you can master everything, teach anything.
And no, this isn’t a plug for my music education resources. Although if you want them, I’m sure by now you know where to find them. (-insert winky face here-)
I have seen so many music classrooms like it. The timeline on the wall, following the super-imposed ‘sections’ of music history, without any further context. Baroque, classical, romantic, etc.
Now, I know many music teachers will instantly tell me that these have their place, and I do not disagree. But they are only a piece. For example, why do we consistently separate music history from world history? The two are not separate; they are inherently linked.
But even more importantly than that, I have noticed an increasingly worrying pattern of music teachers assuming that they understand, and can teach, topics that culturally do not belong to them, and that they have only a cursory understanding of.
A key example of this lies in the phrase ‘music is universal’.
No. It isn’t.
Music is a learned phenomena, culturally distinct across the world, and not fitting into a comfortable pattern for us to follow.
I can hear you asking; but where are you going with this? Am I never to teach music that isn’t mine again?
No. But also slightly yes.
The answer is in the title: look to the experts.
The internet is an amazing place. It is full of experts on different topics, keen to share their knowledge, who can explain their culture and their music more clearly than you ever could.
Even more than that, there are experts right outside your school that would be delighted to be asked to come in and show their expertise. You might even be surprised by the parents of your music students – for example, one of my old students’ dad was one of the best rock guitarists in Australia. He was certainly a respected resource in our community.
You do not need to be master of all trades. But all educators, in any field, should aim to become master of this one: asking for help.
Good luck, and may your community be full of hitherto undiscovered musical delights!
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.