As a music teacher, you’ve got big shoes to fill, whether your student wants to someday play at Carnegie Hall or headline a music festival like Bonnaroo.
We’ve discussed the integral characteristics of successful musicians, but to be learning how to be a great music teacher is taking it a step further. It’s your job to inspire, motivate and perhaps provide a little tough love every now and then. You know the power and benefits of playing music – but how can you translate that in order to keep your busy adult student motivated, or to keep your fidgety 5-year-old student focused? It takes a special kind of person, and several specific personality traits. So what makes a great music teacher? Here are 5 qualities that will help you learn how to be a great music teacher, as originally published on PianoEducation.org:
1. Approachable. A happy person who demonstrates a sense of humor along with an empathetic sense of humanity is capable of putting people at ease, and, in return, can create an atmosphere where mutual communication can flow.
2. Organized. This projects a sense of professionalism and helps create confidence in your service. Your answering machine message should also reflect a person ‘in control’ of their business. Remember to include the name of your studio on your message, even if you use the same line for personal calls. Keep your teaching tools in the same place all the time, so you know where they are. Work closely with a calendar so you can plan events in a calm manner.
3. Motivating. Psychology is useful in any profession when dealing so directly with people. Understanding the different ways people learn, reason and communicate is vital when helping them reach their fullest potential. Positive reinforcement is a much stronger motivator than negative condemnation. A diligent teacher will have an array of strategies for motivating their students to practice, listen, express and create.
4. Inventive. Games, illustrations, analogies, exercises and demonstrations all need some consideration for individual students. An active mind not only learns better, but information is stored in the brain systematically, which makes retrieval easier! Emotion impacts much more strongly than cold facts. An inventive teacher is able to evoke an emotional response from a cold fact, which will then impact greatly on the student and can add to their growing knowledge.
5. Knowledgeable. It is unreasonable to expect any human being to know everything about a subject – even if they make a living out of it. However, a great teacher will know how to access and find information, as well as communicate it.