Often times, we view music teachers as virtuosic players that have the magical gift of passing down their skills onto their eagerly accepting students. However, the truth is, a teacher can be an excellent teacher without necessarily being an equally fabulous player. The opposite is also true. An extremely gifted performer can not necessarily be the best teacher. We need to be able to separate the gift of playing and the gift of teaching in our minds. We should always be prepared to play music.
Inspiring Music Lessons
On the other side of the coin, a teacher needs to be able to inspire their student and show them what their hard work and practicing can really do for them. This is where the separation between player and teacher needs to diminish substantially. This is where the teacher needs to be prepared to perform for their most important audience yet – the student.
Keep A Few Pieces In Your Back Pocket
There are a few situations in which it is appropriate for the teacher to play during the lesson. Often times, a student will simply ask them to play something, just to get inspired. In this case, the teacher should have something prepared. This can really be anything. The piece does not have to be terribly complex, especially if the teacher considers themselves more of a teacher, than a performer. It should be at or above the level that the student is learning at.
Be Prepared To Play Music
Simply playing what the student is working on to perfection can certainly be enough. It is best, as a teacher, to have some pieces in your back pocket that you can play flawlessly at any time. This obviously mean practicing it so it’s always in-shape. It’s totally fine for a teacher to not be a professional performing musician, but the teacher should be able to play some selections really well.
When To Play Music At A Lesson
Another time that playing during a lesson can be helpful is a time when the student isn’t hearing the full picture of the piece in their heads. Perhaps they are learning parts but need to be demonstrated the whole. Music can be very complex and often times with younger students especially, it’s hard for them to hear the complete piece that they are working on in their head.
Maybe, the teacher needs to demonstrate a certain feeling to the music. In any case, the teacher should be able to play the piece that their student is working on with the accuracy and finesse needed for the student to understand that piece. For more advanced students, this may mean that the teacher needs to practice the piece on their own time, just to make sure they can play it at the student’s request or need.
Don’t Over Due It
Playing as a teacher can be very helpful for the student. However, it can be overdone. This can be a case where the teacher is more of a performer and is more used to performing than teaching. If the teacher performs for the student too often, it can leave the student discouraged rather than inspired. In music lessons, it is important to remember that the number one goal is helping the student succeed and enjoy the music they are learning to play. The golden rule: Only play during a lesson if it is helpful for the student.
You Don’t Need To Be A Star To Inspire One
The point is, you don’t need to be a star performer to be a great music teacher, but you do need to work on the performance aspect of the job a little bit to continue to inspire students. Teaching music is an art itself and is constantly requiring work, experience, and creativity. Sometimes, it’s important to put the extra effort in and do what we are telling our students to do: practice.