Whether you teach large ensemble classes or small group instruction, one of the best ways to focus on development is to point out what is going right, instead of what is going wrong. Several times per class session you should find individuals who are truly showing excellence and celebrate their achievement! This could be setting up their instrument correctly, sitting with amazing posture for a large segment of rehearsal, or demonstrating a musical passage worthy of playing for the class. When the rest of the students see individuals in their ensemble growing, it lifts the morale of the group, gets students excited for each other, and it also proves that you are always watching and listening for (and expecting) the very best!
Celebrate Group Achievement
The thing with celebrations is that in order to celebrate an achievement, you have to have already set a goal. For instance, you can give a class a goal for the number of minutes it should take to set up their instruments and be ready to play. If they reach that goal, consider having them play an extra fun song at the end of class with the time they saved. Maybe an incentive for everyone learning to play a particular skill that you were working on is just the thing to help them celebrate all that practice.
The most important thing is that they see you as the teacher, excited for the entire class to reach their potential. Music class may be the only class in the school day where they hear the teacher saying things like, “we’ve all got to get this so we sound really great!”, Or, “If everyone plays their part perfectly it creates this amazing sound." That level of accountability deserves recognition — if they are able to achieve excellence, it is really important to celebrate their success!
Celebrate Through Performance
The Music Achievement Council has worked hard to create materials for you to produce an amazing performance celebration. If you teach beginners, it is so important to celebrate the first performance of many to come in their music education careers. That's why we created the First Performance National Day of Celebration. Celebrating all of their achievements and commitment, celebrating parental support, administrative support, and of course musical excellence, check out the materials that are already created in a template form. It's about inviting the right people, celebrating the various aspects of what it takes to be a musician, and setting the stage for all the people who make it happen to truly be "in it together" to help students realize their musical dreams. Download your complimentary materials to prepare for your First Performance National Day of Celebration!
For some directors, there's still a lot of unknowns around the start of school and what your music class will look like this year — no matter what happens, focus on celebrating your students' accomplishments and they'll feel encouraged to continue working at their instrument.
Stay safe and enjoy the start of the new school year!
Metea Valley High School, Aurora, IL
VanderCook College of Music, Chicago, IL
Naperville Youth Symphony Orchestra