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Teaching Tips

Do it Yourself!: How to Make Students Their Own Teachers

Practice Steps Worth Their Weight in Gold

Good Vibrations: Getting the Best Vibratro from your Flute Students

Daily Practice Assignments Break Big Projects into Simple Steps

How a Squawking Chicken Can Make your Teaching Easier... and more fun!


Do it Yourself!: How to Make Students Their Own Teachers

Our goal is to make our students independent. I give my students a choice: “Either you can learn to read, count and think for yourself, or you can depend on me. If I have to be there to help every step of the way, then I’ll have to come live with you!” Funny... but not one student has thought that was a good idea!


Here's how to help your students become their own teachers:

When your students ask a question about rhythm, your answer should always be, “What did you do to try to figure it out on your own?” Did you try to figure out the rhythm before you tried to play it? Did you mark the beats? Did you first count out loud using syllables like “ta” for quarter notes, “tee-tee” for eighth notes, or “huckleberry” for sixteenth notes? Did you tap?

When your students make a mistake, instead of pointing out what the mistake was, say things such as “There was a rhythm problem there. What did you play? And what should you have played?” or “Something was wrong with the pitch. Were you sharp or flat?” or even “That’s not right. What do you need to fix?”

When your students make a mistake, instead of you marking or circling the problem, tell them to mark it. You’ll know if they understand, and the act of writing will help them remember.


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What is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music?

A NCTM is a member of the Music Teachers National Association. The following is from the MTNA Web site:

The mission of Music Teachers National Association is to advance the value of music study and music making to society and to support the professionalism of music teachers. The Professional Certification Program exists to improve the level of professionalism within the field of applied music teaching and helps the public readily identify competent music teachers in their communities. It signifies commitment to continued excellence in professional practice. In addition, it increases visibility, builds credibility, provides a goal for personal professional achievement and validates expertise for the individual and to those outside the field.

The program is based upon a set of five standards defining what a competent music teacher should know and be able to do:

Standard I:
Professional Preparation

Standard II:
Professional Teaching Practices

Standard III:
Professional Business Management

Standard IV:
Professionalism and Partnerships

Standard V: Professional and Personal Renewal

To me, being a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music means that I have a commitment to teaching and learning and strive to help other music teachers attain high standards for themselves and their students and the respect our profession deserves.