Confidence Counts For More Than Talent

Talent, as I have written elsewhere, is highly overrated. I’ve seen it time and again: a student who is a hard worker out performs a student with much more natural talent. Talent has to be used and improved upon or it soon becomes worthless. Hard work always pays off, even when it doesn’t lead to … Continue reading Confidence Counts For More Than Talent

Engaged Learners In Action In The Music Classroom

Yesterday, I wrote about developing students as engaged learners. Today, as luck would have it, the benefit of engaged learners played out in my classroom. The plan was to review a two-part vocal arrangement of "Wade In The Water." I asked the class to begin by singing the bass ostinato, and then continue while I … Continue reading Engaged Learners In Action In The Music Classroom

Developing Engaged Learners in Music

There is much to recommend developing our students into independent and engaged students. The two are related: engaged students go beyond what is asked or required, and generate their own questions that drive their learning. By contrast, dependent students are often compliant, but not engaged. It is easy to settle for a compliant student, even … Continue reading Developing Engaged Learners in Music

Four Pieces of Advice for Improving Music Teaching and Learning

Recently, Patrick McKenna published an insightful article on begin an effective leader. The main point was that good leaders understand the importance of relationships with those they lead, and take a genuine interest in their needs and wants. This is not only good for business; it is also good for teaching. Music teachers are in … Continue reading Four Pieces of Advice for Improving Music Teaching and Learning

Finding Quality Repertoire for Younger Performers

One of my values as a music teacher is to use quality repertoire no matter the age or level of the students I am teaching. This can be challenging, especially for the least advanced students. There is a wealth of “educational” music published, some of it of very high quality. Even so, there is more … Continue reading Finding Quality Repertoire for Younger Performers

Assessment Ideas for the Music Classroom

By now, most music teachers are familiar with and using some form of assessment in their classrooms. Directors of performing ensembles give periodic playing or singings tests and quizzes, and may also administer written tasks to assess knowledge of music reading and analysis. General music teachers have become accustomed to collecting written student work, and … Continue reading Assessment Ideas for the Music Classroom

The Star Spangled Banner and Young Singers

The Star Spangled Banner is arguably the most controversial song in the repertoire of songs for American music education. While American music educators nearly universally agree that, as the national anthem of the United States, it should be taught to American children, the pitch range, spanning an octave and a fifth, puts it out of … Continue reading The Star Spangled Banner and Young Singers

Varieties of Musical Dissonance

One of the fascinating things about music history is how people have gradually over the centuries changed in how dissonance is regarded. From the position that all dissonance was bad and even evil, to the twentieth century view that dissonance can be beautiful, we have accepted and embraced more and more dissonance in our art … Continue reading Varieties of Musical Dissonance

What Is Music Theory and How Does It Fit Into Music Education?

A casual survey of so-called music theory books used by piano and violin teachers reveals that music theory is frequently understood to be the body of knowledge needed to read music. When students using these materials “learn music theory,” they are asked to name notes and chords, identify and define symbols such as key and … Continue reading What Is Music Theory and How Does It Fit Into Music Education?

Teaching Music Reading to Very Young Children

Today, I have two things on my mind. One is that while every child is entitled to a music education, no one is entitled to success; that has to be earned. I am a strong believer in the principle that the less one has to work for something, the less it will be valued. The … Continue reading Teaching Music Reading to Very Young Children