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This is how we do it

Calling all music teachers.

Tell me, how do we get it all done?

Keeping up our own instrumental practice, preparing meaningful music lessons, teaching the actual lessons, attending professional development, as well as even beginning to listen to what our students want?!

The simple answer is, of course, that we do. Because you are a qualified music professional, for whom the tasks on that list are now simple and easy to accomplish.

Well done, indeed.

The secret of the true music teaching professional is that we do not do it on our own. Work smarter, not harder, right?

The number of times I have sat down with my colleagues and shared ideas, developed new strategies, even new sheet music, cannot even begin to be counted.

But I hope this post has reached a few people who do not feel that they can relate to the above. The new music teachers, the uncertain pianists venturing into delivering lessons, the shy flautist who feels unsure of what to include.

Do you know that you go into teaching with more experience behind you that most new classroom teachers?

How long have you studied your instrument?

How many years have you received lessons?

How many hours have you spent practicing?

Every single part of your journey as a musician has prepared you to be a teacher.

And we at the music educator are here to help you build your community! And in the spirit of that, let’s dive into free resource Thursday.

The resource this week is one that is designed particularly for the newest music teachers. It can be difficult when you start to know how long to make a lesson, what to teach, and especially how to leave students with meaningful notes to guide their practice.

Presenting our lesson notes template! With handy tips on all of the above, and a template to suit all lesson types, we hope it helps you settle into your music education journey.

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.

woman in discussing a lesson plan

Am I teaching what I should be teaching?

You’re a wonderful music teacher.

You know that, right?

You are. And I say that because only wonderful music teachers ask themselves this question.

Why do I say that?

Because the answer is something that never stays the same. It depends on the student, on you, on what is happening around the world right now, and the history of the place you inhabit.

To give a very simple example, a four-year-old, however skilled they are at the piano, probably shouldn’t study Rachmaninoff’s most difficult work, because their hands simply won’t be able to manage that.

In another example, students who don’t enjoy playing ‘classical’ piano (for whatever reason) probably shouldn’t be forced to play only Beethoven and Mozart.

The question we should always come back to is a simple one. No matter what career this student chooses, what skills do I want to leave them with?

In the context you’re in, you might want to leave them being able to teach the instrument themselves should they ever want to. Or maybe you’re teaching them their second instrument, and all they need from you is the joy of music. That’s what my violin teacher did for me.

At the heart of this is a very simple statement.

Get to know your students.

Not just what their parents say about them. Get to know THEM.

Once I did that, everything changed. In one day of teaching, I went from teaching an eight year old who ADORED studying Mozart, to discovering that she also had just started her very first band, and wanted to know how to read a lead sheet. I needed to change the content of her lessons to suit that.

And you can, and should, do that too.

For classroom teachers, I recommend you to go so far as to question how much western staff notation you need to include in each lesson. Ask yourself, do these students, right here, right now, actually need this?

Finally, ask the student themselves. They have more thoughts on this than you would think!

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.

musical notes

All Cows Eat Grass

Every good boy deserves fruit.

Good burritos don’t fall apart.


Most of you will know EXACTLY what I am referencing here.

If you were trained as a musician in the last 30 years, then this is most likely how you learned to read music.

If you are a musician, trained recently, and don’t know what I’m talking about, then I have to say that I am glad for you.

Because this is not how to learn, or to teach, reading music.

“WHAT?! But it worked for me!!”

your instant reaction

I know, I know and hear me out.

Why are we so obsessed with teaching concepts through metaphors and structures that have NOTHING to do with what they actually mean? Western staff notation is an inherently logical system, that we teach through acronyms that have no conceptual connection to it. Rather than learning the patterns of ‘space, line, space’ or even more importantly, the connection to the SOUND of an instrument, we learn an acronym.

And don’t even get me started on how difficult that is for our smallest students – I’ve already written about that enough!

The big problem is, you know how to read music. You’ve been reading music or years.

So my question to you is this: what process do you go through when you read music? Do you name each individual note? Or do you follow the patterns, and the rules of how it works?

My challenge to you is this: teach music the way you read it.

As a successful reader of music, your strategy works. I could offer more advice here, but at the end of the day, you are the expert. Read some music. Write down what you do. Explain that strategy to your students. It’s one more strategy that they didn’t have before!

Over the next few months, I’m going to be uploading several more resources on reading music.

The first that we are sharing here (yes, it is once again free resource day!) is for use in a classroom situation, when students are learning where notes are on a keyboard. This resource is specifically designed for Year 3 and 4, although we have the ones tailored to other year levels available in the shop!

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.

fingers on piano keys

To teach or to play?

So you want to include games in your music lessons, but don’t know where to start?

I’m certain that all music teachers have felt the same at some point or another.

The biggest worry that we all have is that we play games that are not connected to learning, that we are wasting precious minutes just to make sure we are the ‘fun’ music teacher. We really are skilled at overthinking music teaching.

The problem often lies (as it usually does) in not planning effectively. Worried that a student is looking bored, you jump in and fix the boredom with a quick movement game. Concerned that a student is not listening to you, you make up a game to incorporate and alter their misbehaviour.

Over time, this leads to lots of music games being incorporated (which can seem fantastic) but not much time spent at the instrument, or focusing on any particular skill.

The only question that you need to ask yourself to solve this problem is this:

“What skill do I want my student to learn from this music game?”

Maybe it’s reading music, or identifying notes, musical expression, or playing from memory.

If you can answer that question, you’re on the right track. If you can’t, spend some time looking through your student’s lesson notes. What can you see you keep on reminding them to do?

Incorporate it into a music game.

What skill do they seem to avoid working on the most?

Incorporate it into a music game.

What skill do they seem to struggle the most to understand?

Incorporate it into a music game.

Every teacher incorporates games differently, according to their space, instrument and personal style. Just remember, as long as you are focused on what your students are learning, you are getting it right!

Now, a treat for all of you wonderful music educators. We have created a music education resource here at the music educator for our youngest students – a collection of four games to get any music teacher started on incorporating games into lessons. For a limited time only, download it for free! If you want more information on how we make and structure our resources, check out this post.

Looks like you missed the opportunity for our free download! Head to the shop to browse all our wonderful education resources!

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.

audio e guitars guitars music

What’s in a Resource?

Our shop has launched!

And now that it has, we decided that it was time to explain how the resources at the music educator work.

The aim of all music resources sold on this website is to make music teachers jobs easier, every day. With that in mind, let’s explore exactly how we are doing that!

First of all, every resource we create comes with a ‘How to use this resource’ page. As a professional yourself, chances are you could always figure out how to use a worksheet, play a game or teach a lesson. But why should you spend that time working it out? This part of our resource tries to make your use of our resource as straightforward as possible.

Secondly, when you use one of our resources that involve note reading (on a grand staff), that there is colour coding involved. This is purposefully entirely random. As so many people have differing associations, colours were chosen simply to support students who that would find the correspondence helpful. The simple work around is to print it out in black and white!

Thirdly, there is a consistent use of both solfege (in fixed do for the resources currently available) and alphabet names. Sometimes there are separate worksheets with either option, or there are both options printed. The simple reason for this is that both systems work (in their different ways), and both can be used to wonderful effect. There is a more extensive post about this here.

The next feature is the frequent inclusion of learning intentions/outcomes. This is to, again, make your life easier in knowing that you are teaching your students as well as you possibly can.

Lastly, there is our (much easier to read) Terms of Use. Although we have our proper one here, this one clearly explains what we expect from the use of our resources.

Want to see what we mean? Pop over to our shop to find out!