This isn’t like college when you could pull an all-nighter and get the paper finished or ace the exam. You need to be organized and not only prepare, but over-prepare to be successful this first year. You’ll be juggling a lot – preparing lessons for each class, determining concert schedules, organizing marching band, attending summer camps and more. One key way to prepare, before any of those activities even begin, is to take inventory of your program’s woodwinds and brass instruments, sheet music, music stands and risers and general facilities. Understanding what you’re working with will help you plan and prepare. If you find you’re in need of anything, you can work to acquire it before your students arrive for class.
Ask questions, solicit advice and learn from others
If you’re taking over a music or band program from a previous instructor, one of the best things you can do, if possible, is learn from that previous teacher. Ask them about their philosophy of teaching band or music class. Find out about how they structured the class format. Ask them about their rules, traditions, holidays, what worked well and what didn’t. Of course, you’ll want to incorporate your own ideas and make sure your students are clear on your policies, but keeping some continuity could help the transition.
If you’re a new music educator taking on a new program or you’ll be teaching beginning band students, then of course you’re free to structure things any way you’d like. However, it’s still a great idea to talk with more experienced staff, other instructors at your school or even those at competing programs to help develop your own philosophy.
Learning your students’ names and getting to know them as individuals is critical in your first few days of teaching.
- Use a seating chart to help you memorize names.
- Meet with students individually or in small groups.
- As you get to know the class and start to identify the student leaders, involve them in some decision making, such as which pieces to perform for concerts.
In addition to your students, get to know the other teachers, your school principal and your support staff. Be sure you understand who will help you with budget questions, who will set up the auditorium for a concert and who can assist you with inputting grades. Maintain contact with the college professors who most influenced you as well as friends and colleagues who are also teaching. This support network will be critical when you are feeling overwhelmed and need help, but will also be so important to help you celebrate successes and accomplishments!
Above all - trust yourself. Teaching is a process and mistakes are inevitable. You won’t be perfect right out of the gate – and neither will your students, whether they are beginners, intermediate or advanced. Your greatest assets are your passion for your profession, your energy and your openness to trying new things. From time to time, a lesson won’t go as planned or you will feel discouraged. Learn from mistakes and don’t be afraid to try something new if what you are doing isn’t working. Don’t beat yourself up – try to relax, do your best every day and enjoy teaching the joy of music.
If you need help or guidance with selecting instruments and equipment for your program or have questions about how you can make your budget go farther, the experts at Woodwind & Brasswind are ready to help. Call us at 800-346-4448 or check out the Educator Website to get educator discounts online.