Tag Archive: singing


“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” Clay P. Bedford

The past 14 weeks have definitely been a challenge in many ways, but I can’t believe that it is already over. These past few months have flown by and now in just 6 short days I will be walking across the stage and receiving my undergraduate degree!! While it is a relief to be done with student teaching, I still miss it and the students. I truly enjoyed the whole experience and really connected with my students. I was very lucky to have 3 incredible co-ops and for the most part I had an extremely positive experience. I have found like a lot of things in life student teaching is what you make of it. While  there are just some bad placements, I believe that your success with student teaching is based on how much effort and time you put into it and what your attitude about it is. I really enjoyed student teaching because I finally got to put to use everything that I have learned and worked for over the past 3 1/2 years. I know I have shared my experiences over the past 14 weeks, but I thought I would use this recap to share some of the biggest lessons I learned throughout this semester.

Top 10 Lessons I Learned

  1. Confidence– I have found that it is important to have confidence in front of the students especially with the older ones because you are only 4 years older than them. In order for them to respect you they need to know that you are confident, in charge and know what you are doing. Show them that you are the expert in the room, but if you aren’t sure of something admit that to them and then found out the answer.
  2. SING!!- I know I have mentioned this over and over, but I feel that I can’t express the importance of singing to, with and for your students enough. This kind of goes without saying in choir or elementary general music, but I believe that it is imperative to sing in your band rehearsals. the students need to hear what their parts sound like, how the style of music should be played etc. I was amazed how much quicker the students picked up on things when I sang. Also, this gets the students to realize that singing is okay and is one step in helping you fight the battle of getting your students to sing.
  3. Organization– While your classroom is bound to become a mess at some point I found it is very beneficial to stay as organized as possible. If you are organized this helps your lessons to run smoother and can help prevent problems in the classroom. Also, staying organized may take time at first it will save you time in the future. This is especially important in elementary general music when you may have no time between classes. You need to have everything ready to go and organized before the day even starts. Staying organized will also allow you to be more flexible.
  4. Go With the Flow- As music teachers we have to be flexible and willing to go with the flow. So many times are schedules get messed up do to PSSA testing, field trips, special days etc. While this can be frustrating we need to be flexible and show that we are able to work around these challenges. You also have to be flexible for when something goes wrong in your classroom. For example, on my last day the CD player quit working in the middle of a song so instead of stopping I just kept going and we sang it a capella. If you are not good with just rolling with the punches, I would suggest getting some practice because I found that being flexible is a necessity as a teacher.
  5. Communicate– Believe it or not teaching can be a very lonely profession at times, but it doesn’t have to be. As a student teacher or even full-time teacher we need to always be communicating not only with the people around us, but also others through blogs, twitter, MPLN etc. There is so much we can learn from others and communicating with others can also help us realize that we are not the only ones going through a certain situation.
  6. Leave Your Comfort Zone-  I can’t stress enough the importance of getting comfortable and getting experience in all areas and being willing to go out of your comfort zone. There were so many times during the past weeks that I was stretched outside of my comfort zone such as teaching a drum set player and directing middle school choir, but I felt that these were some of the times when i learned the most. With the current education situation it is more important than ever that we are comfortable in all areas of music because you never know where you might end up!!
  7. Be a sponge– I believe as a teacher we should never be done learning. I heard a student teacher the other day say “I just want to be done student teaching because I have learned everything I need to.” Even when you feel like you have learned everything there is still more so try to soak up everything whether it is while you are teaching, observing, or even when you are eating in the faculty lounge. Also I have found that part of learning is finding out what you don’t want to do as a teacher as much as learning what you want to do. This goes back to what I have said in earlier posts, but don’t see anything as pointless in your undergraduate career!! You will be shocked at how much of this information you will use and you never know when one day you might need it.
  8. Be Proactive- While classroom management thankfully came fairly natural to me, it is still a challenge and I believe will be a challenge even after teaching for 30 years. I learned that one of the best things you can do is be proactive and try to stop bad behavior before it starts. You can do this by making your behavioral expectations extremely clear from the beginning and by correctly pacing your lessons to fit the needs of your students.
  9. Remember the Purpose– I have found that there is so much that we as teachers want to cover and teach that we often spend a lot of the class or rehearsal time talking about what we want or introducing a concept. We need to remember what both us and the students are there for; to MAKE MUSIC!! While of course there are things we have to teach through talking it is imperative to keep in mind that the students are there to play, sing, and make music. I taped one of my band rehearsals and was shocked at how much I talked during the rehearsal. By the end of my experience I taped one again and this changed drastically and the class period was much more productive. As my one co-op always told me Talk little, sing/play/do MUCH!!
  10. Passion– I think one of the biggest lessons I learned is to make sure you have true passion for what you are doing and find a way to relay that to your students. If your students can’t tell that you are passionate and care about what you are doing they won’t care either. Also, I found how demanding a teacher’s schedule is and without passion it extremely easy to get burn-out. I think some of the most rewarding times during my student teaching experience were when my students told me that they loved coming to my class because they could tell I loved music and were making them to love it also 🙂

While these are by no means all the lessons I learned while student teaching these are some of the ones that I felt were the most important and kept occurring over the last 14 weeks. These are all lessons that I believe that are imperative to learn early in our career to help us become the best music educators possible. Also I have found that most of the lessons listed above and ones that I have learned are things that you are not taught during your undergraduate courses!

I hope you have enjoyed following along on my student teaching journey with me and have been able to learn something from my experiences. I have really enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and they have been a great way for me to reflect upon what I have learned. Stay tuned for a post to come in the next few days on my tips for having a successful student teaching experience.

I want to teach band so I don’t need to sing” or “I am a band director so I don’t sing” Unfortunately these phrases are said too often by music education undergraduates and band directors. Many band directors will play almost any instrument for their students, but they are not comfortable using their singing voice. This is also true with undergraduates. I have a few friends who are instrumentalists and want to become band directors and nothing else. They are not willing to go out of their comfort zone and sing. I feel it is important that all music educators get comfortable using their singing voice no matter their specialty. All music education undergraduates are required to be proficient in all woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, so why shouldn’t proficiency in singing be required? Non-vocalists especially need to learn to become comfortable with their singing voice. Continue reading