Dear All Teachers,
I am wanting to share some tips today to make teaching life more easy and effective
I don’t know about you……but I am out there doing drive-to-you tuition and resenting having to bend over to point to notes! By week 9 of term you feel those aches and pains.
At Music Waves I really want teachers to be happy and work less hard, more effectively, and yield satisfying results.
I call it finding ways to work SMARTER NOT HARDER
I tell myself this mantra, “If I EQUIP my student with the SKILLS to be more INDEPENDENT, I will be a more RELAXED teacher, I will have a more practicing student and a happier student-parent”
This is doing justice to the student, the parent and the teacher.
So ask yourself, am I equipping the student with just the next SONG or a lifetime SKILL? Which is better?
Don’t be eager just to complete their current wretched song! Rather aim to impart the Skill that will help with this song and many after. A SKILL is an investment that yields many more songs more easily in the future, with less strain overall to student, teacher and parent. A song is short-lived.
So let’s spend more time EQUIPPING STUDENTS WITH A SKILL.
SKILL NO. 1 : TO READ MUSIC INDEPENDENTLY
Playing a Flashcard game gives teacher a chance to RELAX whilst equipping the student with an explicit literacy learning task. It varies the intensity of the lesson. It makes it fun. BUY THESE FLASHCARDS if you do not already have them and add it to your Music Waves invoice
https://www.bookdepository.com/Music-Flash-Cards-Set-Hal-Leonard-Corp/9780793577750?ref=pd_detail_1_sims_b_p2p_1 These ones I have found the best and they also have clapping rhythm games and general knowledge terms too.
How else can we save ourselves from having to bend over to lean over and point to notes?
– DELEGATE TO THE STUDENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE /
ACTIVELY ENGAGE THE STUDENT TO TAKE OVER!
Ask the child for example “Jessica, I want you to grab the pencil, grab your music book off the piano stand, and I want you to write the names of all the notes in the left hand for the first 2 lines of your song. This has killed 3 birds with one stone! You have created a literacy task that improves the student’s explicit literacy skills and help them play the song, saved your back and made them more inclined to practice independently when you are not around!
– USE ELOQUENT VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS
Instead of pointing to the note and saying frustratingly”that is a G!”
EXPLICITLY take time out to explain the concept of “Bars” and “Bar numbers” and Bar referencing”.
Then you can say this verbal instruction to the student. “Stop. Go to Bar 21. What is the note on the top line of the Right Hand in Bar 21?”
Delegate to as much VERBAL instruction rather than physical instruction as possible.
– LET YOURSELF CHILL OUT, DO A NOTE-SPELLER SONG;
also called alphanote songs these are songs where the note names are written inside the heads of the note . This allows you to sit back a bit, let the student be more self-directed.
Print these out:
–GET UP AND WALK AROUND FOR YOUR TEACHER HEALTH! don’t always sit on the same side of the student so that they are getting used to relying on you to spoon-feed. Get the student used to you walking around during the lesson, even if you just sing-a-long the notes of their music and giving verbal instructions from other sides of the room. This means the student increases their listening skills and self-sufficiency. Try and make a rule to get up at least 3 times in the lesson. Better still, try doing a lesson standing up! Try dancing in the lesson! Jump up for the sforzandos! Squat down for the pianissimos! Make your student laugh 🙂
MINIMISE LEANING FORWARD or to the side: Research shows that having your head aligned, not leaning over, but vertically upward is best. Life involves movement though! We have to read texts on our phone, we have to work on laptops, we have to help kids as well! So my rule is if you have to lean over make it quick! Be candid with your student. I say to my students “I will point quickly but will you promise me from here-on you will follow your own note as leaning over is bad for my health!
Partner with your student to have good posture. Refer to posture regularly and remind each other to stay straight, not hunched over. Teach them to try to have their ears, shoulders. and lower back aligned in one nice vertical line
I have a bad habit of crossing my legs! But research says keeping legs at 90 degree angle planted on the ground offloads weight off the spine.
Let’s be mindful this week of how often we are bending over to point to notes and practice using alternative methods.
REMEMBER TO BREATHE, its only piano! Sometimes when we care so much about the music we forget to breathe! We get frustrated, and we don’t even notice we have forgotten to take a deep breath in a while. Then our muscles get less oxygenated and sore. At that moment, I say to my student, “Okay Stop right there. Look into my eyes, Mary. Let’s get off the piano, do a big stretch together. Let’s take a big breath together INNNNNNN and OOOOOUUTT. When you and I are ready and back in the zone and focus we are going to take this tricky part SLOWLY, Note-by-note MINDFULLY. “
Hope all of this is helpful and I want to be there for all of us to share our teaching experiences and support each other