For the past 4 summers I have worked at a pharmacy. While this does teach me some valuable lessons in dealing with people, it does not provide the best development as a music student. This year, however, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with my high school alma mater working with the marching band. I was offered the position to teach summer lessons to students. I was filled with nervous excitement about this chance to work with band members. I was also offered to work as the music worship intern at a church I attend while at school. I lead worship there as well as teach lessons to church members who would like lessons on any instrument of their choosing as long as they have the instrument to play.
Having never participated or played a band instrument until college, I was extremely nervous about working with the middle school and high school bands. Through these past 5 weeks, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge and have discovered a lot about myself as well. This summer, the program only consisted of 4 students who decided to take these summer lessons: trombone, tuba, baritone, and flute players.
These lessons were as much about me learning as it was for the students to learn from. I learned the value of effectively using words and illustrations. Trying to communicate a concept to a beginning musician can be difficult, so it’s good to try a couple of different ways to explain something like tounging for example. I also learned that time is very valuable. There is only a certain amount of time that i have, and a certain amount of things to accomplish in that time.
At the church, I have 2 adult students learning saxophone and voice, and a child student learning guitar. The adult students add a completely new dynamic to teaching lessons. They have so many more experiences to pull from and a lot more bad habits to break and mold.
This past week, I’ve also had the opportunity to teach music for my home church’s Vacation Bible School. This experience consisted of more out of class work than the lessons did. I needed to do more clerical work such as learning the motions and the music in order to teach them to the kids and designing the final program. Classroom management comes into consideration here more often as well because I was dealing with 5-25 extremely excited students ages Pre-k through 11 years old.
This has been a fantastic experience getting some real-life application of the skills I have been acquiring in my classes. A great deal of music education cannot be taught through lectures, but rather through personal experience. I encourage all undergraduates, as well as high school students interesting in music education, to get as much personal experience teaching as possible. That will give you valuable knowledge as well as help you realize if this is the field for you.