Standard #8: Instructional Strategies
Because no two students learn in the exact same way at the exact same pace, a teacher must be an expert at using the right instructional strategies at the right time in a student's development. Students of all disciplines must be engaged in many different ways, may it be kinesthetically, aurally, or visually. Because music involves physical motion, listening skills, and reading it would make sense to engage students in a multitude of ways to ensure the best possible transfer of information. This can be done by teaching and demonstrating comprehensive musicianship. If the students are not demonstrating the content through performance (which involves reading, playing, problem solving, and critical listening skills) they are not fulfilling one of the three learning needs.
In the modern workforce, employees are no longer expected to be specialists in one particular medium of their field. Rather, they are expected to be multifaceted and experienced in multiple areas, making them more marketable. For music teachers, this means being familiar with fundamental pedagogy for all instrument families or voice techniques, as well as instructional strategies for elementary and general music, beginning band, high school band, orchestra, and everything in between. Teachers who only specialize in teaching their primary instrument in one setting are not as marketable, and many schools are searching for teachers who have the ability to teach two or more subjects. Being able to model good musicianship on the trumpet, and then two seconds later address the clarinets about keeping their chins flat and fingers curved makes a teacher much more credible and effective.
Ball State has equipped me with many tools and instructional strategies through my conducting classes, instrument techniques courses, and method courses such as Elementary/General, Secondary/General, and Secondary Instrumental Music. Sound-before-sight is the one instructional strategy that has been constant through all of those courses. It is important for a teacher to have a good process for teaching concepts and literature. During my first teaching placement in MUSE 350 I learned how to create a good process for beginning band students. When learning a new song or excerpt I would first have the students count the music and finger along on their instruments. Next, we would use rhythm syllables and fingerings, following with singing and fingerings. Finally, we would perform the piece in chunks or its entirety. This process allows the students to learn different aspects of the music in more manageable parts - counting, fingerings, rhythms, and pitches - before creating the bigger picture. This strategy also allows the teacher to assess students' understanding of individual elements of music making.
One must have and understanding of and familiarity with various methods of communicating concepts and ideas to students. No two students learn or behave the exact same way; therefore, no single instructional strategy is enough. Every student has their own distinct way of conceptualizing that suits them best, so a comprehensive understanding is better achieved through multiple, individualized teaching approaches.
I am a strong believer in teaching and assessing students based on their own level of skill and knowledge, and not pooling people into categories. Additionally, I find it exciting, though somewhat challenging, to come up with various ways to discuss a topic and discover what makes people tick. Realizing different ways to reach your students is a vital skill, and one that I feel every educator should strive for.
Through student teaching and collaborating and cooperating with other education colleagues, I hope to discover and develop new and exciting ways to teach. Ball State University does a great job at providing opportunities for its students to practice their instructional strategies both in and outside of the classroom.