By: Christy Laarakker We all get excited as teachers about discovering activities and resources that will make our studios alive and our lessons fun and engaging. While learning is an exploratory process, that exploration can sometimes be too much for individuals...
By: Jeff Sabo Learning to read music can be a big challenge for any student. For some students with learning disabilities, difficulty reading can be an obstacle to traditional music learning altogether. One tool that can help students with learning disabilities read...
By: Erin Parkes, PhD Increasing numbers of home studio music teachers are looking for ways to create an accessible space for neurodiverse students. This is fantastic, as having more options for music learning in the community is a huge piece of the accessibility...
Music is primarily an auditory art, which can leave teachers wondering how to best approach teaching students with hearing loss. Children and adults who are having severe to profound hearing loss often qualify for a surgical device – cochlear implants, a device that help deaf people hear. In this blog, we will share some key information and tips from our experiences on teaching students with cochlear implants.
Anxiety. We’ve all felt it – maybe it shows up as butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, a rapid heartbeat, or racing thoughts that just won’t slow down. While most of us are familiar with our own feelings of anxiety, it can be challenging to identify how and when anxiety is manifesting in our students. We often talk about anxiety in the context of music performance, but there are so many other places anxiety can show up, including during lessons or even when trying to practice at home. Online lessons have added another dimension to consider for students who may feel increased anxiety seeing themselves onscreen, navigating technology, or just trying to connect with their teacher through virtually. As teachers, most of our time with students is spent during the lesson, so this article will focus on ways student anxiety can present during lessons and how we can support struggling students.
We talk a lot about using a strengths-based approach for students with exceptionalities. This is a critical part of helping students reach their full potential. But in order to take a strengths-based approach, we need to first and foremost know our student’s strengths. So, how do we do that?
An awareness of the impact of trauma on learning and behaviour is gaining more and more traction in education, and it’s about time! Research in psychology has clearly demonstrated the link between trauma or toxic stress and challenges in learning environments. And yet, so far there is little awareness of trauma-informed teaching in music education, despite the fact that approximately two thirds of children will experience at least one traumatic event. It’s time to change that!
Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Unmotivated. Inability to feel excited about teaching. Any of this sound familiar? As music teachers, most of us have personally experienced burnout at some point during our teaching careers or know someone who has. Between trying to juggle lessons, planning, parent communications, student recruitment, expanding our resource libraries, and professional development, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. When you add trying to balance that with families, school, chores, and other commitments, it can feel impossible to keep up with everything. In addition to the typical challenges of music teaching, teachers who work with special needs populations face an even higher risk of burnout and exhaustion due to stress. The pandemic has added additional stressors over the past year and a half as well, with many teachers having to face new challenges like switching to online learning, struggles with student retention and engagement, and coping with the effects of isolation. Considering these challenges, it’s no wonder that more music teachers than ever are suffering from stress and burnout!
As we are approaching Halloween, we start searching for different music activities to enjoy with our students. This one piece alone can yield so many activities! Below are some ideas based on this theme that can be used for group or private lessons and can be easily adapted to suit the ability and needs of your students.
Many of you may have had the following experience: you are teaching a student, and it has not been going well for a while now. You have been using all of your usual activities, tricks, and tips, and they don’t seem to be working. The student is not making much progress, and every lesson feels like a struggle. You notice they are getting frustrated or bored. Maybe some behavioural issues are appearing and making it difficult to even try getting things done during the lessons. Now you are starting to get frustrated and feeling burnt out. They are clearly not enjoying the lessons, and you are starting to feel anxious or annoyed when you think about teaching them. You may be thinking that the student is “just not cut out for music lessons”.
Sound familiar? This pattern is actually quite common for us as music teachers, and it can really make our job feel like a grind. Very often, it can happen because we are using a deficit model with that student. This attitude can be toxic for the learning process, especially for students with exceptionalities. The good news, however, is that we can change our perspective at any time!