Mar 22, 2017
“A balance of fun and regimental training is essential to curate a successful path for our music students.”
We all want to be the fun teacher. However, it’s easy to get off track trying to fulfil that persona. We can forget to adequately teach the fundamentals such as the rudiments of music — and our students lose out on valuable knowledge. A balance of fun and regimental training is essential to curate a successful path for our music students.
It should be no secret to any professional private instructor why basic music theory, sight reading, and technique are so important to your student. However, learning these things can be very rigorous. They are dependent on daily practice and study. Focusing too much on this alone will result in a bored student that, most likely, won’t work outside of your music lesson.
Keeping things fun will help to encourage a daily practice habit. As music teachers, we understand deeply how important deliberate practice is to develop a growing musician. If we focus too much on having fun in the lesson, then we can slow the learning process for the student.
What you really need to do as a teacher is to bring an artful blend of the two. You need to bring a balance to the music lesson. This balance will look different to each of your students. Sometimes, taking a couple of minutes out of working on a difficult piece to talk to your student about their other interests, for example, can keep the tone of the lesson a bit more light. Just don’t spend too much time off topic, your time has been paid for, after all.
For your younger students, you can provide stickers and candies to encourage focus in the lesson, or practice during the week.
Students that have a hard time focusing in the lesson will find it more fun to jump from topic to topic and then circle back to the music lesson. You may find yourself making lots of these circles in one lesson, but it can be very effective. Games are always a welcome change of pace for your student. You can play different intervals and let your student guess if it’s a 2nd, 4th or 5th, for example.
Keeping the tone of the lesson light and fun while still constantly challenging your student will help keep them moving forward and encouraged. Music teachers need to find the balance between tough fundamental work and keeping things fun.
Cory Moon is a guitar teacher in Oklahoma City and the owner of GuitarLessonsOKC. Cory holds a bachelor of arts in guitar performance with advanced studies in improvisation and contemporary music theory, and has vast experience in performing.