Friday, June 28, 2013

Are You Good Enough to Teach Music?


There are many, many different ways to teach.
Doing something doesn’t mean you can teach it, and vice versa.
Playing flawlessly doesn’t mean you’re an amazing teacher.

Teaching is science — just like medicine. A good teacher possess a body of expert knowledge about how the mind works, how motivation works, how to design effective work and how to adjust learning. Also knows professional “best practice” and how to use it fluently and flexibly.

But teaching is an art itself – it takes practice. A PhD Math Professor must be really good in math. But it doesn't mean that he's a good at teaching. He could speak alien and makes everything complicated that it needed to be. It's not about what he said, but how he explain things. Kids aren’t widgets, teachers aren’t robots and everybody loses when we treat them that way.

Not every college graduate is cut out to teach, regardless of his or her innate intelligence, G.P.A. or previous career success. Only those with specific talents and training become gifted teachers who, working with a talented mentor teacher and a variety of tools and learned techniques, can motivate students to want to learn. 

"Teaching is both an art and a science"
The practical wisdom of good teaching is more than being creative or spontaneous. It is knowing when and how to use best practices. It includes how to prepare and use great questions, and knowing when to veer to places students take us. It includes when and how to use the science of teaching as well as the art. Practical wisdom is not following a script prepared by others who do not know your students and how they work.

I would say we need it both. Some people seem like they’re just naturally great teachers, but really they’ve just had more practice.

It’s like being a comedian. Did you know that by the time comedians step onstage, they’ve told their jokes hundreds of times already? Not kidding. The jokes are funny because those people spend hours tweaking and perfecting the jokes so they get just the right amount of laughter each time. It’s like a pianist performing onstage. It looks easy, but it’s not. They just have a good sense of their glass walls and you’ll never know that they’re sweating under their suits. Not everyone can be an amazing teacher right away. Heck, most people are only comfortable teaching certain age groups. 

It doesn't matters how much degrees you have. In fact, I know people with a whole bunch of music degrees and they STILL don’t think they’re ‘good enough’ to teach. There will always be doubts.

With that being said, it’s generally acceptable to start teaching beginners in Classical music, if you accomplished Diploma in Music. It's like a minimum standard, before you learn how to teach music. Good teacher is also good student, right? You want to easily sight read beginner pieces and know the concepts well to teach.

Teachers don’t actually know everything. It’s totally alright to keep a music dictionary handy. It just means that the world of music is so big that you can’t possibly store everything in that great head of yours. That’s also why good teacher needs to prep for lessons; he has to know the material well and you have to plan to teach it well. He has to use authentic assessments and backward planning.

Finally, teaching must be a lifelong career worthy of those we want to teach. Wish you all have a nice teaching!