Thursday, November 6, 2008

4 Must Haves for Every Music Teacher

1. Computer

OK, it sounds ridiculous. But as we all know, music educators are not the first or most likely group to adopt 'new' technology. I know some teachers who still prefer to wind their metronomes. And how many of us teach out of the same old tired method books that we learned from when we were kids?

The offices of DSM are furnished with state of the art systems from Dell and have been ever since its inception in 1992. It was always part of the grand plan to expose faculty (and students) to the best tools available for both teaching and learning.

Of course, we were building all along the way so having computers, the internet and related software came with the territory. We also developed something called an II Doc (Individual Instruction Documentation) that is completed by each teacher during every session and is e-mailed to the student or parent afterward. This documentation becomes a terrific history of every students' progress and a reference for other teachers who may step in or sub on given notice. The idea is so powerful that it is being incorporated into the Support Center of our MusickEd software.

Computers allow us to stay connected with students, parents and the outside world. If you are a teacher, get yourself a computer and use it to better your craft. Keep it connected to the internet and close to where you teach. You won't regret it!

2. YouTube

This is a fantastic resource for recorded music - both with and without video. Spend a few minutes searching and you'll become addicted. Once you become a little discerning, you can quickly cipher the good from the bad and find great examples of music covering all genres. I've used YouTube as a play-along tool, to show great performances by great artists and to show examples of what NOT to do (and there's plenty of that to choose from, believe me).

Every teacher (especially private teachers) should access YouTube in their studios and spend some time getting their favorite videos saved for future reference. You and your students will love it.

3. Digital Keyboard

In the offices at DSM and MusickEd, we have a combination of upright and digital pianos depending on the taste and need for each educator. I totally love my Yamaha 625 and use it often during my sessions... regardless of the instrument I'm teaching. It has an amazing number of sounds, grooves and even recording capability. know I have only scratched the surface of this fantastic machine. Many of my younger students seem to have this innate ability to find all sorts of fun sound combinations and rhythms very quickly. It sure beats the wind up metronome my teacher used.

4. Software

Yeah, I know, it sounds like a plug. But my passion for this software goes way beyond the fact that I have had a hand in its development. I know what is happening behind the scenes and I can tell you that there is a team of amazing educators and innovators who are working to make this product all that it can be. The software is comprehensive in its approach, presenting concepts in sequential order and giving learners (and teachers) a variety of ways to address and absorb musical information. Teachers who once may have felt uncomfortable working with students at certain levels of ability (low or high) now have a quick and easy way to evaluate and assimilate them into a solid curriculum.

In the few years that we have been using MusickEd material here at DSM, our students have found the learning process is fun and easy to follow. Younger students enjoy the interactivity and older students appreciate the no nonsense approach (it's not a shortcut or magic potion!).

In 2009 we will be announcing some major partnerships and releasing a new navigation and look for the current software. We are also excited about the release of our Jazz Series later next year. Keep an eye out in this space for sneak peeks and breaking news!