New Book Presents Life Lessons for Music Teachers and School Administrators

Paul G. Young said his intent in writing his new book was simple: “Having been a principal for 20 years but a music teacher first, I see music teacher as my brethren. I want music teachers to succeed.”

The book is Enhancing the Professional Practice of Music Teachers: 101 Tips that Principals Want Music Teachers to Know and Do,  co-published by MENC and Rowman & Littlefield Education.

“My goal is that a reader can pick up the book and read it from cover to cover, but I believe you can also pick pages at random, too, and find something of value,” he added. Young is currently president and CEO of the National Afterschool Association in Washington, DC. He holds a BFA degree in music education; a master of music education, a master of music in trombone performance and a Ph. D. in educational administration from Ohio University, Athens.

To order Enhancing the Professional Practice of Music Teachers, visit Rowman & Littlefield Education. The list price for the cloth version of the book is $70; paper, $27.95. MENC members receive a 25% discount on the book.

Young’s tips are divided into categories including:

  • Tips that Establish Effective Practice with Students
  • Tips that Support Recruitment
  • Tips that Enhance Instruction
  • Tips that Enhance the Profession
  • Tips for Professional and Personal Development

Among his specific tips:

  • Have a life outside school and spend quality time with your family.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Take classes and attend workshops.

Young answered some questions about his book.

Q: You were a music educator and then became a high school principal. Many music educators make that kind of career change. Why do you think many music educators are able do this?

A: If you are a successful as music educator, you can successfully manage all of the administrative things that go into managing a staff of teachers. In addition to being good managers, music educators have the ability to organize, to handle challenges as they arise, navigate turf issues, negotiate with others. The skill sets for music educators and school administrators are very similar. Plus, [principals] want kids to succeed and they know teachers must be successful if that is to happen. Not every kid will be a music major, but as a music educator hopefully you will send your kids into the world with valuable life skills.

Q: One of the tips in your book is “Train Your Volunteers and Chaperones.” Why is this crucial and what are some of the most important things a teacher can do?”

A: Because it will build your music program. Have your act together. Invite volunteers to help out, but get your act together and make sure they have something constructive to do. There is nothing worse than asking people to volunteer and then have them sit around. They won’t come back. Also, you need to make sure they are screened. This is good advice for experienced teachers, but in particular for rookie teachers because brand new teachers have to learn how to build strong relationships with your students, with parents and in the community. That will help your music program.

Q: Several of your tips involve better communication. Why do you think that is difficult for a lot of people?

A. Music teachers are often isolated in their work and sometimes not considered part of the team. You don’t want that.  Also, many music teachers are very shy. It is not my nature to be outgoing either, but you must make an effort to seek out others and develop relationships [on the faculty]. It is all about building blocks. Relationships and communication go hand. With better communication you build better relationships. Put yourself out there.

Q: Who do you see as the audience for your book?

A: It isn’t just a book for school music teachers. It isn’t just a book for teachers. It is a book anyone can use.

Visit MENC’s Online Forums to discuss Young’s book and share your own tips.

MENC also created a Teacher Success Kit, an interactive CD designed for new and future music educators.

Roz Fehr, March 10, 2010 © MENC: The National Association for Music Education