How to start GROUP MUSIC LESSONS?
Do you consider teaching group music lessons? If you do, this is the article for you.
After 20 years of experience teaching group music lessons at different levels (university, high and elementary school), I have decided to share some tips and hints that might help other teachers.
1) Find a way to VOLUNTEER in a school or daycare, especially if you have no previous experience with teaching groups. It is always nice to volunteer in the local community! You contribute to your neighborhood and spread the word about your teaching business. Choose to go somewhere where you can easily access the teachers. I volunteered in my son's afterschool program at Heath and Ferndale Daycare, Toronto, and the class was a blast!
2) Focus on a specific AGE group. My choice was a group of 1st and 2nd-grade kids (ages 7-8) that is a great age group to work with. They are old enough to know some basics about music and to focus and participate properly.
3) Divide an activity PLAN into 4 phases that cover 1-hour lesson. 45 min might not be enough for all you want to share, and a lesson longer than 60 min might result in kids' losing interest.
4) Outline 4 activity phases based on 4 different MUSIC SKILLS: group singing, clapping/tapping rhythm, music theory, and playing some instrument (piano, percussions, recorders, ukulele). Carefully choose a difficulty level for each phase depending on the age group you will work with.
5) Prepare workable teaching MATERIALS: print out the lyrics of some well-known songs that kids can sing as a choir, bring some basic percussion instruments that kids can use to follow the beat, show them some flash cards with musical elements/sings, ask them to guess the elements, draw them, and connect them in a group.
6) GROUP and INDIVIDUAL approach: you are addressing a group of kids, but at the same time, you should ask individuals to respond to some specific tasks. That way the students will be motivated to participate and learn more. Try to make the class interactive and attain the right balance between your exposure and kids' tasks.
Remember: the primary goal of us teachers is to GIVE A VALUE, something new and precious that the students can bring with them after the lesson. The value we give to others is not only KNOWLEDGE but above all LOVE for music. Keep that in mind while teaching!
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Dr. Helen Arnautovic is a musicologist, music professor, writer, and a founder of Sunny Day School of Music