Whether your primary focus is in the classroom or the private studio, today’s music educators must be highly productive. At the same time that more and more demands are made on our time, the number of distractions we’re presented with (including social media) are increasing as well. The following tips can help make the best use of time for both you and your students.
1. Set Goals by Making Action Lists
Taking the first step towards productivity can be a hard task, so keeping a list of things to do can give you a heads-up. It starts with recording your ongoing activities into notes, or “action lists.” This helps you determine what to accomplish for the day, how long should it take to finish, and monitor the ones you have achieved.
On the surface, taking notes can be very elementary. But many fail to complete their “action lists” because they cram them with unnecessary tasks. Don’t be your own Goliath. Prioritize those items that must be completed from those that would be “nice to have done.” Save the optional items for later, or consider letting them go.
It may help to accomplish the simpler tasks first, like preparing your score sheet manuals, before turning to tougher jobs such as making lesson plans. A good rule of thumb is if it takes about the same time to add an item to the list as to complete it, just get it done.
2. Encourage Self-Learning
The Internet can aid your teaching instruction in so many ways. Even beyond SmartMusic, platforms like YouTube are turning into schools for aspiring artists and musicians. This kind of learning, done outside of school, is a perfect example of the flipping the classroom.
It’s a given that everyone is on their mobile phones all the time. Use the accessibility of the Internet to adjust your teaching methods by encouraging students to watch videos at home. There is a plethora of music gurus and tutorials on YouTube, so feel free to browse according to what suits your style of teaching.
One great way to leverage YouTube is to make a selection of appropriate songs to listen to through playlists. This empowers students to immerse themselves in the music and practice sound recognition, so they become more well-versed upon entering your sessions. In addition, it gives more time for essential tasks that call the proper guidance of a music teacher.
3. Place Your Lessons Online
One way to increase student engagement is by providing lessons in a way that students enjoy. After all, education should be a process that they find equally fulfilling and enjoyable.
As mentioned above, the Internet can be a great resource to boost your productivity, and another example is to put your lessons on YouTube. Through this, students can revisit specific lessons they find most challenging, and allow themselves to repeat the important highlights.
Having lessons archived in this manner can also save you from having to repeat information, and gives you the opportunity to fine-tune the presentation to make sure nothing is left out. The truth is that it’s easy to occasionally leave out some small important detail, and having a video to “back you up” helps you and your students.
4. Mix Up Your Teaching Methods
As students often have short attention spans of attention, keep lessons engaging by inserting different aspects of music during their hands-on training. You might incorporate some theory along with more practical applications. Working on multiple learning objectives simultaneously not only is more efficient, it can also improve student engagement especially if you’re teaching kids drums or any other instrument.
Your goal is to work on giving the best learning in the most creative way, and then increasing your productivity by making dynamic lessons.
5. Have Equipment and Instruments Ready
Creating an ideal work studio can be a huge help in boosting your productivity. To start, prepare your musical equipment before your sessions. Having everything ready beforehand will save time and avoid interruptions. Other accessories like picks, capos, speakers, guitar straps, and amplifiers should always be accessible. Simply having your equipment organized can result in more time for mentoring.
No place is organization more important than in notation used in the studio. Make it a priority to develop a system that makes all music easily and quickly accessible during any lesson. It doesn’t matter if this is done with a file cabinet or an iPad, it just has to be done.
I hope these lessons I’ve learned in the studio are helpful to you – however you interact with your students.