One Thing College Can’t Provide to a Future Music Educator

So you are about to start your career as a music educator. You might be excited but still a little scared at the prospect of standing in front of 20-35 little faces that are probably just as scared to be sitting in front of you.

I’m sure you are walking in to this position with an impressive resume: Attended a great college, took child psychology classes, tons of teaching methods, and did a few weeks of student teaching with a journeyman music teacher looking over your shoulder. While all that was good, you got just enough to sample the reality of the future.

The one thing college couldn’t truly give you was EXPERIENCE! Obviously that takes years of trial and error in the trenches.

Years ago a fellow school teacher asked me if her son (considering teaching classroom music for a career) could observe me in action for a day. I was happy to comply. After watching me teach two second grade classes, we took a break for recess. He then asked me if he could teach the same lesson to the next group about to come in. I replied “give it a shot”. It was then that I realized how much experience played a role in our avocations. This young man was basically eaten alive. Kids were crawling under their chairs and would not give him their attention. I think I may have stepped in and helped him out, but in fairness to him, there can be many different variables from class to class while teaching the same lesson plan. The point is that a teacher with experience can make it look easy due to his or her experience.

A different group of children with unique personalities, the phase of the moon, different times of day (even an hour can make kids act differently), sugar lows or highs in the class right before lunch, the mood of the class coming in, class size, even familiarity with the teacher’s personality all effect how students act or react to you.

I’m not claiming to have been a “great” classroom music teacher, but I did develop techniques that fit me and made music learning fun for my students.

Experience also supplies negative learning for you too. You WILL bomb on occasion, hopefully not while you are “being observed”. All teachers have. Learning to teach doesn’t only occur in front of a class. Your lesson plan might need a simple tweak or major overhaul. After a day of rough classes, you might find yourself reflecting all night or all weekend on how you can improve your technique or plans. This is all part of “EXPERIENCE”

Have fun teaching music AND learning to teach music!