Making music lessons fun: keep your students happy!
Many children ask their parents to sign them up to music lessons because they are enthusiastic about learning to play an instrument. Yet, when they actually take the lessons, they get bored and soon they quit. This has nothing to do with the natural skills of each child! Quite the opposite, it is up to the music instructor to motivate young students and make them have a wonderful time in class. What can you do to make your music lessons fun?
Timing is everything!
Children have shorter attention spans than adults. In fact, because of modern technologies, people tend to pay less attention each day! Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the technology is a bad thing. On the contrary, it plays a huge role in making music lessons fun, as we’ll explain soon.
So what do we do to keep the concentration of a
child? In a few words, you should split each lesson into multiple activities.
And each of these should be different from the others. This requires a careful
For instance, you can dedicate the first 10 minutes to playing a well-known piece (or to rehearse something already taught). In the following minutes, the child may leave the instrument aside and, instead, so some music appreciation activity, a game, or watch some video, etc. Later, you may dedicate a few minutes to explain something new, and some more minutes are for the child to practice it.
In any case, it is important to let your students know what each activity is for. None of them is a waste of time!
Include music they like
When teaching music, of course, you want your students to get to know new music styles, genres, artists, and pieces. But take into account children already have a musical background and they want to share it! If a child loves modern rap, he or she associates it with having fun. And if they find out their music lessons completely lack those specific artists they enjoy, they will probably feel studying music has nothing to do with having fun.
So even if you love classical music and never
listen to anything newer than Tchaikovsky, you should still include some songs
that your students like. You can use them to compare scales, techniques, or to
show them a new chord, etc.
Shake, shake, and shake!
Your ideal music practice takes place in a quiet, peaceful room, resting comfortably in a chair and without any interruptions, so you can keep playing for hours and hours. But when it comes to teaching young children, having some active time is a must! This is because they have so much energy. The average 6-year-old child can’t be expected to sit down straight on the piano stool and remain quiet for an hour.
So make sure you include some dynamic exercises during the lesson. They can walk around, make palms, or stomp their feet, you can suggest a fun game of musical chairs, or even dance around! Sure, they need to be calm in order to practice, but they won’t give any instrument a chance if they get bored during music lessons. Make sure you are keeping your students engaged during the lessons, and encourage them to practice at least a short time every day when they are at home.
Make your music
lessons exigent enough
We all know learning to play an instrument can be difficult. That is why you should be careful about how much you demand of your students. If your class is way too difficult for them, soon they will get frustrated, and many children confuse being overwhelmed with being “bored”. In any case, they’ll give up!
Then again, if music lessons are way too simple, if the child finds herself repeating all over the same exercises even when she got them right at the start, or if learning music doesn’t provide students a challenge whatsoever, surely they will get bored. And, let’s face it, we couldn’t blame them.
Technology to the rescue!
Young students spend most of their free time in
front of screens. Yet, as we said before, technology is not your enemy when it
comes to music lessons. And while an old-fashioned music tutor may force their
students to turn off their cell phones, you know new technologies provide
amazing possibilities to enhance your lessons and make them more interesting!
Feel free to include some (or all) of the following:
- Apps: There are all kinds of apps that can help
your students learn faster, keep them practicing, creating their own musical
compositions, or enhancing their hearing abilities. Some of them are free to
- Web pages: If you work with computers, many
web pages offer thousands of resources when it comes to learning music theory,
discovering new instruments or artists around the world, or connecting with
- Videos: You can listen to music all the time, but if
every once in a while you play a video, children will surely appreciate this
breath of fresh air in the middle of a lesson.
- Sound processors: There are all kinds of computer
programs that allow you to record the practices, and play with the sound!
Include games and music appreciation
There are great music games
you can include in your lesson! From “pass the parcel” to “pop song charades”,
any child will have a blast if you give them a little break in the middle of
your class. Of course, it may be difficult to include certain games in
individual music lessons, but some others go great.
Last but not least, always plan some time for a music appreciation activity. Especially if you are teaching them to play an instrument, these activities are great for giving those little hands a rest. Children can lie on the floor or walk around as they listen to a new song, or draw a picture of how the music sounds, etc.
What other resources do you use to make your
music lessons fun? Please tell us!