Teachers play an important role in the lives of their students. Many young people are shaped by their instructors from a very young age and you can see the effects of that shaping quite clearly. In terms of music, teachers are responsible for teaching their students how to play their instrument and grasp musical concepts. But teaching is so much more than just getting your student to be able to play a major scale. A teacher can also help a student to be self-sustaining and empower them to be independent musicians once they’re older, lessons which start now. Better Practice can give you the tools to inspire but it’s up to us as teachers to use them effectively to empower our students for their future.
1) Preparing Students to Practice For Themselves
One of the most important tools a teacher can give to their student is the ability to learn a new piece of music by themselves. This starts with the ability to
- choose a piece for themselves
- listen to and learn about it
- begin breaking down the chunks of it so they can learn it for themselves. Walking students through this process now can be invaluable when they need to rely on the skill later.
With Better Practice, all the tools to support this are already in place - the student can create their own assignment, upload their own PDFs of music to Better Practice, embed videos of performances or recordings to study, upload and use backing tracks.
WHAT TO DO: Create an assignment for the student to create own assignment, add in videos and try to learn on their own. Have them return with a list of questions that comes from trying to learn their own piece.
2) Using Analytics to Propel Forward
In the age of big data, analytics are being used in many different areas to improve performance. Businesses use it to optimize their processes, removing waste and fraud while allowing them to focus on the areas that make the biggest impact. Athletes use analytics to identify weaknesses and biases in their art and optimize their strategies to be more efficient and effective. Musicians can benefit from analytics as well. With Better Practice’s powerful analytics platform, musicians can gain insights into how they are spending their time and areas that are in need more help. This is a big area with many metrics to guide the students. In the beginning keep it simple. Focus on one or two metrics to get the ball rolling.
WHAT TO DO: Show your students how to track how many minutes they practiced in a week. Ask them to check the following week to see if they are practicing more or less. Then show them the monthly trend. Have them follow that to make sure they are trending in the right direction.
3) The Tools to Learn From Others
Now they have the tools for learning on their own, but there will be times when they still need help from others. One of the first steps is to encourage them to seek advice when needed. Practice, despite the ability to do it on your own, doesn’t have to be isolating. If a particular section or piece is causing the student trouble, they should be comfortable coming to a teacher or mentor for help. Better Practice incorporates this effortlessly through the chat feature, a way in which a student can contact their teacher at any point and ask any questions they may have or get feedback.
WHAT TO DO: Show the student how to record themselves and send you the recording for feedback. Once they see how easy it is, they will feel more comfortable sending you recordings midweek for feedback.
4) Build Setlists and Track Performances
As students learn more pieces and their repertoire starts to grow, they can start to organize them into different setlists in Better Practice. Students can have setlists for practice or performances. What if your student had a holiday themed performance coming up at the end of December? Well, now they can organize all their holiday music into one place and be prepared well in advance.Then they can memorialize each performance with a poster image, the date, and what they performed. If they have a recording of the performance they can add that too.
WHAT TO DO: Create an assignment to have students create several different setlists for the pieces in their repertoire. Linking this to our first point, have them create assignments for pieces they would like to add to their repertoire and include them in the setlist too. This now gives them a process for growing their repertoire expanding their growth as an empowered musician.
Next, create an assignment to have students capture every single one of their performances in Better Practice. Have them add their performance set list and if their parents have a recording, include that as well.
5) Make Your Own Music
Another facet of music that can sometimes be neglected is improvisation and composition. The ability to invent your own melodies or add ornamentation and other interpretations to a pre-existing piece is an incredibly useful skill all it’s own. Better Practice makes improvisation and composition easier by allowing students to store recordings of various attempts. Students can save different attempts and tag them for reference later. With a searchable history of each recording, students can go back and listen to their fleeting flashes of brilliance that they can reuse again and again.
WHAT TO DO: On the students’ next improvisation or composition assignment, have them record and save every attempt in Better Practice. Also have them tag them so they can be recalled later. Ask them to listen to previous attempts to refine their assignment. Ask them to reflect on the use of these tools and how it contributed to the final product.
As your students continue on in their musical lives, it’s important that they be able to learn and practice by themselves. Better Practice not only gives you the tools to teach effectively now, but also the tools to let students thrive when they’re in situations where they might be on their own. Us music teachers don’t just want to teach music by itself; we want to see our students achieve great things and teach them how to be self-reliant and successful! And with all these tools at our disposal to do so, there’s never been a better time to be a student of music!