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Never Assume!

Just like any other job, certain aspects of teaching become routine.  I generally know when I want to introduce two-octave scales.  Nuances of course may change and evolve with time and more training.  But I am almost never reinventing my entire approach with each student.  This allows me the flexibility to be creative in lessons when necessary but also able to stay on track with progress somewhere in the back of my mind.What I didn't realize was that with these routines I started to inadvertently assume things.  I taught the parents of my older students how to tune.  Therefore I did not need to reteach tuning to those parents when I started a younger sibling.  But... this unintentionally led to me assuming that all parents knew how to tune.  Or--let me rephrase--I assumed that if they were uncomfortable with tuning they would have asked for guidance.Wrong.If there is one thing this pandemic has made clear: never assume.  A student is progressing through repertoire does not necess…
Recent posts

What if every child had access to music education from birth?

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Anita Collins shares how learning music influences our brain development, and what this means for musical education. 
Anita Collins was handed a clarinet at the age of 9, and it changed her life. This single event dictated her future career as a musician, music educator and academic.

Virtually Relearning Everything About Teaching During COVID-19

My apologies for the lag in blog posts!  As of writing this post, we have been in COVID-19 quarantine lockdown for about five weeks.  I find the memes and jokes about suddenly finding all this time on your hands hilarious but they don't exactly ring true if you have young children.

While there have been quiet moments for me, I haven't felt the willpower to write anything.  Writing--even if it's nonfiction--requires a certain amount of "creative juice" and I found that I just didn't have that in me at first.  Too many things were changing.  Too many little stresses added up to make me prefer relaxation over creativity.

So many online teaching resources suddenly exploded into existence when the lockdowns started.  It's been absolutely amazing to watch happen.  Many teachers that were suddenly bursting with creative juices when presented with this new challenge of 100% online lessons.  I think that has been a wonderful balance for teachers like me that would …

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Skills

Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) can best be described as a "musical readiness" class.  While parent-child bonding certainly takes place, the goals differ from a typical "mommy and me" style of class.  Each activity is designed to not only develop life skills but to also prepare the child for lessons on a musical instrument.

As an example, each class begins with ball rolling.  Music is played softly in the background while the children take turns rolling the ball to each other with parental help when necessary.  This is such a simple activity that, on the surface, could be seen as just a social icebreaker--not that these are ever bad to practice!

But on a deeper level consider all the skills a child must develop just to pass that ball casually around the circle:

-Waiting your turn
-Hand/eye coordination
-Responding appropriately when music is cued (ball passing stops when music stops)
-Intense focus during a prescribed period of time (pass the ball during mu…

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Quick (but informative!) summary/review of The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.  Link to read the full book here.

Is My Baby Too Young for Baby Music Class?

This is a question that often gets asked or, more commonly, "My baby can't even walk yet!  What could he possibly get out of a music class?  Shouldn't we wait until he can do more things?"

The short answer: the earlier you start, the better!

The long answer:

While the nature of this question is completely understandable, it is flawed logic.  It would be like asking, "Well, shouldn't we wait before she can read more words before reading books?" or "Shouldn't we wait until he can take more steps before we can try walking?"

I make this point not to sound snarky.  As I said, it is completely understandable why parents should ask this question.  You paid money for the music class and all your child is doing is sitting there, or maybe even crying through the whole session!  My point is to underscore the fact that children--especially babies--learn by observing and then by doing.  Presenting the book to the child and letting her flip the pages...…