Teaching music without a music degree

Jerry Xiong, an elementary school teacher in Oregon, asks:

How should I teach music in my school when I don’t have a music education degree? What are some basic skills and things I should teach second graders?

This is a great question, particularly if you are in a school with little or no music program. Your ability teach music depends not only on knowledge and training, but also on resources and setting. While I am not primarily a school teacher, here are my ideas.

Why not start with basics, like reading music? This skill is best learned at a young age and never goes out of style. FACE for space notes and EGBDF (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) for line notes works well in visualizing notes on the staff.

You can teach rhythm with a myriad of inexpensive and durable percussion instruments, or just with clapping. Singing is another great tool. Everyone can do it, and I even do it in flute lessons for learning pitch and musicality. Students can retain these skills until they are able to take up instruments.

While a degree in music certainly gives you the full tool belt, I don’t think you necessarily need one to teach music in a basic, introductory way. Be confident and creative, and make it participatory.

Last thing I’ll say is this:
A goal of mine to have students be able to teach themselves when they eventually leave me (just kidding, NO ONE EVER LEAVES ME!). ;-D  Similarly, your goal should be to give students enough understanding and enjoyment so that they seek more music after their time with you.

Here are some additional blogs to refer to:
Teaching Music – Tanya’s Kodaly Aspiring Blog
The Digital Music Educator

Anyone have anything to add? Particularly my other music teacher friends who can continue to advise on this topic, and even do a better job at it? (cough…comment…cough)

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