Taking Charge

Your university will provide you with the philosophy behind teaching, but if you want to know more about the practical side, here are some learning opportunities from NAfME member David WK Johnson that will take you outside of the music education classroom.

  • Find venues to interact with kids, and work with as many different age groups as possible.
  • Give private music lessons in your area of expertise.
  • Schedule a day each week where you can visit one school’s music program and pick the brains of the music faculty there. Have a list of questions for them. You could even e-mail them your questions a few days before you arrive.
  • Buy some of your favorite local music teachers lunch on a weekend, and ask them to share their experiences.
  • Offer your services as a low-cost or free guest clinician for area schools.
  • Work as a counselor or instructor in a summer music camp.
  • Attend state conventions, and go to new teacher workshops.
  • Use the NAfME’s discussion forums as a resource to ask your specific questions and air your concerns.
  • Books are great! Pathways: A Guide for Energizing and Enriching Band, Orchestra, and Choral Programs by Joseph Alsobrook is a terrific start.
  • Subscribe to the Instrumentalist Magazine.
  • Read the above materials and NAfME magazines Teaching Music and Music Educators Journal regularly, and take just a single day out of every other week to work with kids or pick the brains of area music teachers.

David WK Johnson is director of instrumental music in the Williams Bay School District of Williams Bay, WI.

–Becky Spray, August 3, 2011, © National Association for Music Education