More often than not, modern music educators at primary and secondary-school levels must cover a broad scope of thematic territory in their lessons. This is especially true outside the realm of dedicated schools for the arts. However, a great deal of attention to detail and the ability to narrow one’s focus are both crucial when teaching a single instrument to a small group of students.
Instrumental music educators serve as a vital cog in the complex machinery of overall music education. In particular, if they operate in the K-12 space, educators will need a strong foundation of skills and knowledge in music theory — and more importantly, in pedagogy and how to connect with young students. Kent State University’s online Master of Music in music education degree program offers students the opportunity to build their acumen in these domains.
Instrumental basics of music instruction
In music classes, many instruments, ranging from piano and violin to recorder and guitar, serve as major tools. Their versatility within multiple genres of music and the relative simplicity of learning their basics may make these four instruments particularly ideal as teaching aids. According to PBS, piano and violin are the two instruments most frequently learned by younger children in private lessons, and as such, there’s a reasonable likelihood that some students will have at least rudimentary experience with them already. This may make it easier for instructors to establish a baseline for lesson plans that students will be able to follow.
Additional responsibilities of instrumental instructors
Teaching music to students at any age is different from instructing them in a more traditional course like history or mathematics. While those subjects can have extracurricular activities connected to them, it’s a given that with music there will be a variety of different concerts, recitals, practices and other activities involved. All of these will take place outside regular school hours and sometimes off of school grounds as well. At advanced levels of schooling—high school or postsecondary—the stakes surrounding music instructors’ success become so much higher, and if the program is under pressure due to a school board-mandated budget crunch, they turn higher still.
Instructors must be fully prepared to manage these activities with just as much efficacy as they apply to their classroom lesson plans. Yet at the same time, it will likely be beneficial for all involved if music educators approach things like rehearsals as a more open environment than the rigid structure typical in many classroom settings. Rehearsals, concerts and practices can be a great opportunity for instructors to encourage shy students to show what they can do. The reward that comes from truly reaching a child and making them feel welcome, talented and worthwhile is what music educators strive for, and extracurricular activities can be an ideal setting for this to occur.
It should be noted that when the time comes for music educators to lead a public concert or recital for which parents, students, faculty, staff and others will be present, these instructors effectively serve as ambassadors of the school, as do their students. Showtime will require formality and decorum so music educators should effectively instill this through dress rehearsals and discussions with the students involved.
Dealing with students of varying ability
In a general education K-12 environment, there can’t be any assumptions regarding students’ levels of music knowledge. Some students will have natural proficiency with an instrument and receive private lessons outside of the classroom. Others have talent that needs refining, and still others will have passion and work ethic that allows them to develop skills over time.
Regardless of how varied the spectrum of engagement becomes in a classroom, music educators must successfully address all of these different scenarios. Patience, creativity, problem-solving and empathy are essential tools for any instructor, and they become especially vital in a discipline like music.
MMME program benefits for instrumental music educators
Instrumental music educators who want to broaden the scope of their knowledge and abilities may be initially concerned about time commitments. They already have classes to teach on a regular basis, and perhaps extracurricular music programs to maintain as well. Because of this, the Kent State MMME program is 100 percent online and offers music educators the opportunity to earn a degree while working full time. Complete your course requirements on your own schedule and according to a pace you dictate, beginning in the spring, summer or fall.
This online degree program offers attributes far beyond convenience for students focused on instrumental music. The Advanced Studies in Teaching Instrumental Music elective course covers everything from appropriate instrumental instruction strategies to the sociological factors involved in learning and teaching an instrument.
Additionally, courses required for all MMME program students offer important lessons regarding the state of music education in today’s education universe, research skills, music theory and analysis, the role of technology in instrumental instruction and a great deal more. That comprehensive approach is why the Kent State MMME degree for online students can provide music educators with the necessary skills to help ensure their classrooms will be more exciting, fulfilling and instructive than ever before.
For more information, visit our online Master of Music in music education program website here.