Standard #8: Instructional Strategies
The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
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.
Comprehensive musicianship plays a big part in developing talented young musicians. Students learn in many different forms, but arguably all students are more likely to achieve mastery when they are able to apply what they are learning. During student teaching, I would constantly try to exemplify comprehensive musicianship. As students enter the room, I would play a recording of the piece they are about to learn. After the lesson began I would model the melody or excerpt of the piece with my voice, a piano, or my primary instrument (trumpet). Better yet, though I am not a string player, I would jump in with my beginning string students on viola to demonstrate and provide a model for proper technique. Demonstrating on a student’s instrument, bringing in a guest artist, and performing alongside them helps provide a good sound model and foster excitement for music. While I won’t always be able to model on my student’s instrument, I can still demonstrate proper air support and posture, musical expression, and technical skills on my primary instrument.
It is vitally important for a teacher to have a good process for teaching concepts and literature. 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.