My Best Teaching

I just finished teaching my "Basic Music for Classroom Teachers" class. The students in this class are all elementary education majors and are required to take this class so that they can effectively incorporate music into their future classrooms. I'm so glad elementary education curriculum acknowledges that music is important for young minds! But that's not what struck me today. As I am again in the world of job applications and video taping lessons and reflecting on *everything,* I am struck by the fact that my best teaching is usually when I say nothing at all. Too bad that doesn't provide good "sample teaching videos!" :-) 

My best teaching is when I get out of the way. My best teaching is when I give my students a task and say "ready, go." It's when they have to explore and discover and figure things out for themselves. Today, it looked like this:

When my students finished performing their recorder duets for me, they went back to the classroom and formed small groups. Their instructions were to improvise and get out of the box. They could use any instrument/voice available in the room and were to create a 30+ second improvisation. There was expected apprehension at first, but then the wheels started to turn and I became a very proud teacher. I heard them talking about instruments, dynamics, form, rhythms - with correct musical language! Many of these students have no musical training at all. 12 weeks ago they told me "my musical abilities are singing in the car and using earbuds." Now here they are creating, performing, and responding. They identified the musical kernel that prompted the improvisation and wouldn't you know some groups were inspired by lyrics, some by rhythm, and some by melody. Amazing how a plan comes together! 

I am so glad that I got out of the way today. No lecture on how to read musical notation. No lecture on form. Just exploration and creativity. They taught each other, and me, and I believe that is the very best kind of teaching.