Teaching outside of your specialty area

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  • #35026
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Collegiate music programs, while very diverse, lead us to gravitate towards one domain of music education (instrumental or choral). As an oboe player, for example, I have been a band person since I started music over a decade ago, and little has changed other than some occasional orchestra playing. My biggest concern entering the profession is my woefully-inadequate knowledge of choral and orchestral pedagogy. In all honestly, what I would like to teach most is choir, and orchestra would be my second choice. I took a crash course for strings and I am in one for choir now, but there is only so much we can cover in one semester.

    As much as I would like to find a teaching position as soon as I graduate, I feel like I would be doing the students a disservice to accept any position in anything other than band. With that being said, I have 1 year until I student teach and I am not sure what I should be doing to increase my choir and orchestra knowledge. Private lessons? Independent research? Summer workshops?

    What does everyone think?

    #35073
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Matt,

    I would first suggest you play and sing in the ensembels you school offers. Perhaps some lesson in strings and voacal as well. Can you volunteer at a local school in those groups? If you are teaching at the elementary level your musicianship will go a lot farther than you think. But nothing beats first hans lessons and experience.

    Rob

    #36193
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    From my experience as well as from what I have gathered from my host teacher, I think a lot of these skills come with time. You are also probably a lot better than you think! I started off my teaching knowing next to nothing about strings but as time went on, I have gotten much better at it. Enough to the point where I can help those who need it if they have questions.
    Depending on the age group you are working with, your talent as a musician will get you places. You might not be as good as a singer as someone who has sung there entire life up to high school but you are still a musician and can help them learn and improve, which is really the entire point of teaching.
    TL;DR. I think a lot of these skills will come in time but don’t sell yourself short!

    #52990
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Hopefully, you are having a successful student teaching experience by now! I would have to agree that a lot of these skills do come with time. I am in an
    opposite situation in that I am a string player learning to teach band. I would, however, recommend that you observe as many music instructors as possible in the area you would ideally like to concentrate. You will most likely discover that you are very talented and capable and gain more confidence.

    Best of luck,

    Gail Trenerry

    #53054
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    As a soon to be first year teacher this upcoming fall I share a lot of your feelings, especially about teaching string orchestra (I am a percussionist and pianist with a heavy background in band). While I have played in several orchestras, I know that my string pedagogy is not anywhere close to my skills when on the podium in front of a wind ensemble. However, I do not feel that taking a position involving strings would be doing students a disservice, as I trust my ability to make transfers and emphasize musicianship in whatever context I am teaching.
    For prepping string pedagogy specifically I have found that my collegiate peers are a fantastic resource. I just have to ask if they are willing, and I have gotten several mini masterclasses in exchange for coffee.
    One of my favorite professors once told us about how he always planned on being a band teacher, but wound up with an orchestra at his first job. He said that the first summer getting ready for the gig was relatively stressful, but that he was able to rely on his friends and other teachers in the district to help him prepare. This will definitely be my contingency plan if my first gig involves strings (although starting early probably isn’t a bad idea).

    #110157
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Going into my clinical experience, I feel very weak in the area of teaching elementary music as a whole. It’s not that the age group intimidates me, I just have little to no experience with designing lessons for these grade levels. I’m a percussionist by trade, so working with rhythms is no problem, but when it comes to signing and music games, I am at a loss. Does anyone have any helpful insight?

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