Qualities of a Music Teacher

Kodály India offers Music Teachers Training Program aimed at training the teachers technically and emotionally. The following pararmeters will assist teachers to become sound, inspiring and motivated teachers. Teachers who will be role models for many of their students.

Greatness in teaching is just as rare as greatness in any other profession. Although it’s impossible to offer a prescription of qualities in order to cultivate great music teachers, understanding these qualities can give all would-be teachers a standard of excellence to strive for, and guide schools and parents toward what they should look for in current and prospective teachers.

Good teachers connect to their students on an emotional level.  We all remember how teachers we really respected made us feel.  We remember the teachers who saw something special in us and identified with us on some level.  Before we teach, we must show that we care — and there are many ways to do this.  The best way is the one that comes natural, strong humour, eye contact, a strong sense of empathy, or something else that indicates that the teacher truly “sees” the needs of each individual student.

Effective teachers are great communicators of knowledge.  You will rarely walk into a great teacher’s rehearsal and see them giving long speeches.  Highly effective music teachers keep the concepts at the highest level but the explanations short and incredibly clear.  A great teacher has a target they are aiming their students toward and do everything in their power to guide them toward it in the most efficient manner.  Often times, the most useful information is delivered in a few seconds between the  action (in our case, making sounds) that should be occurring throughout the majority of class time.

Wise music teachers love fundamentals.  Wise music teachers understand that technique is essential, and that proper technique can be taught no matter how many students are in the class.  These teachers are not afraid to go back to the beginning of a method book and honour the foundations of playing a musical instrument or singing.  Not only will a great teacher understand that building blocks such as posture, breathing, and hand position are critical to beginners, they also understand that these fundamentals must be constantly reinforced throughout their student’s schooling.  Great teachers do not abandon fundamentals in order to “teach to a concert” — they ensure that their concert repertoire is an extension of strong musical foundations.

Students love to return to the class.  Great teachers often evoke feelings that may be unfamiliar to younger generation — students should feel true respect for a great music teacher;  they will also tend to admire them very much; and yes — they will always enjoy the time spent in the class. Students need someone who they trust (and trust a lot) and someone who they will dedicate their time to being with for a long haul.

Great music teachers understand that every single child is capable of becoming proficient at their craft.  We have a long way to go to dispel the myth that talent and musical ability is inherent and inborn.  Great teachers understand that they must help build musicians one step at a time.  While some students may have instant and early success, a great teacher communicates through their teaching that those who persist and practice in an intelligent and mindful way will grow, learn and reach their potential as well.

Great teachers render themselves useless.  The long-term goal of any teacher should be to help their students learn so much that they longer need the teacher.  They do not lead by personality alone, and needing to be the center of attention.  That’s why great music programs cannot be built on a personality — it isn’t sustainable. Successful music teachers create a culture where students want to continue to go beyond their comfort zones in order to get better on their own.  These teachers seek to create moments of independence, so that students can slowly begin to “teach themselves” moving forward beyond the classroom.

Self reflection is a requirement of great teaching.  Most great teachers do not think of themselves as being great.  They are constant students of their craft, and constantly look in the mirror and ask themselves, “How can I do this better?”.  We all learn by experiences and mistakes, but unless teachers question themselves about what their experiences mean and think actively about them, they won’t make any changes.  Self-reflection enables teachers to move from good to great by eating some “humble pie” once in a while and not being afraid to grow and make changes along their professional journey.

Good teachers don’t look to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy all the time.  There are a lot of school music teachers who strive to have all of their students “like” them.  They look to ensure that all of their students are happy and comfortable at all times, making sure that there is not too much effort involved with rehearsing and learning.  These teachers usually run entire pieces of music and cover a lot of material in a short period of time –they tend to not “dig in” to small sections and have a laissez-faire approach to developing young musicians.  Great teachers, however, command respect and are not afraid to stretch their students’ comfort zone in order to teach them how to strive toward achieving greatness.

Inspiring teachers share ideas as much as possible. Great teachers are always experimenting with new ways to teach a concept. They are continuously upgrading their lesson content meeting the demands of new generations and technological advancements.

Great teachers innovate and are always creative. They are building new ways to teach, inspire and motivate a child to install a lifelong love and passion for music. Their approach is always a playful one and the class ambience is always positive and high on energy. Great teachers often uses various tools and technologies to provide a generation specific lesson. They also perodically upgrade themselves to the latest international teaching practices.

Many parents, professionals and administrators tend to believe that teaching music is the simplest thing in the world—until they actually see the work that goes into it.