What music taught me about teaching

As summer came to an end and although I had taught two summer classes, I was still feeling the need to regroup, refresh, and rethink about getting my Fall classes in order. What can I do differently to make the classes more interesting, not only for the students, but for myself?       As educators we should always be looking for ways to improve our teaching. Repetition could sometimes be the death of us.  Years ago, entering my teens I began studying music. Played in school bands, and eventually began playing in a jazz quartet, which continued into my adult years.  Learning music, I found was very similar in learning to teach. In the classroom, finding our rhythm is crucial. It’s the pulse of the class that we as educators must tap into.  Like in music, the rhythm in our classrooms defines its moods and climates. We are the conductors of orchestras of students, both big and small, helping to keep pace in their learning and understanding. As in music, rhythm and tempo is important for us to remember in our delivering new information to students. Let’s not forget that as teachers, it’s important to slow down and make sure our students are still with us in a lesson.

Our voice is the link between our students and their auditory learning.  In our voice we hope to convey a sense of strength, confidence and warmth. As in music, our tone, pitch and volume play an important part in this. This may be the notion of finding your own voice.  Like in music, melody and rhythm are only successful when one compliments the other.  Finding our voice in the classroom occurs when our students are in sync with the lesson and we find ourselves in flow of the class.  I know this is easier said than done, but the practice of finding our rhythm and voice in our classrooms seems essential for our own personal development. Teaching should be fun, inspiring, creative, and, melodic. Yes, I said melodic, like a tune with words, rhythm, and melody that all come together we can make our teaching experience into a great song. You know the kind of tune that gets us right in the heart, that place of our passion, teaching.

An old musician friend once said to me:  “You know we practice not only to play better, but we practice so when we sound better, we actually feel better about ourselves… now that’s important.”

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One thought on “What music taught me about teaching

  1. Sal, great analogy from the voice of music to the voice of teaching – wonderful! It made me think about the rhythm each class has that’s so different from other classes. Each one has its own tone; its own tenor; its own beat. Maybe it’s supposed to be this way in the greater universe – we just didn’t hear it. Thanks for reminding me to listen!
    -Chris

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