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Music Lessons for Longevity: Appreciating the Student's Agenda♮

I have a consistent opinion about what I believe a good, holistic music education entails. It's far from groundbreaking. I think students should be given the opportunity to:

- developing a great listening ear;

- hone excellent technical skills in their chosen instrument/s;

- work with a repertoire they're passionate about and/or that assists their progression as a musician;

- understand music theory and analysis and use it to their advantage for listening;

- and CREATE.

It's a lot to ask from ourselves as tutors, really, when we usually see students for between 30 and 60 minutes per week. The majority of these things probably fall outside of my advertised job description as a singing and guitar teacher. But I can't help but have this agenda of mine on the back-burner, rolling around in my mind, of what I think will benefit students in the long run, and help them understand music. Love music. Be willing to jump headfirst into music.


Here's the thing, though: students have their own agenda. Each young person has their own idea of what music looks like to them. Whether they're seven, ten, fourteen, eighteen - they usually know, right now, what they want from music.

☞ Sometimes, they want to finish their book to get to the certificate at the back and get an extra big sticker.

☞ Sometimes they're very keen on the idea of taking an exam, where they get feedback from people that know so much about the instrument they're learning.

☞ Sometimes they want to write music with four chords for two years.

☞ Sometimes they're aiming for a Triple J Unearthed spot.

☞ Sometimes they're focused on a tertiary music institution, or a place in a prestigious a high school music program. And sometimes they're not.

☞ Sometimes they want to work with, sing with and play with other musicians.

☞ Sometimes they love working solo.

☞ Sometimes they want to perform, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they'll feel better once they "conquer this fear", and sometimes they actually just don't want to perform.

☞ Sometimes it's right to push skills that don't seem that interesting to students at the time, because it will benefit them later. And sometimes, maybe, it's not.


The only responsibility I unequivocally believe that I have as a music tutor, as one piece of the much bigger puzzle of each child's music education, is this:

I have to give them, and their parents, the option to accumulate every piece of knowledge and learn every skill that is available to them under my tutelage. It is also my responsibility to continue to grow this skill set and improve what's on offer as a result.

It's never going to feel like I have enough time to pedal my whole agenda equally - unfortunately, that's the flip side of prioritising holistic learning. But the student's agenda matters the most to me. More than mine. More than anyone else's opinion on what kids should be learning.

That doesn't mean not encouraging progress. Of course we have to do that, too. But If I'm not addressing what makes my students come alive in the music room, I'm not putting a longevity of their love for music at the forefront of my teaching. And in this role, there is nothing more important than that.


For those who are interested, I'm running a new small-group musicianship class, ideal for students who want to:

- improve their aural skills 👂

- further their understanding of how songs are put together 🎨

- get a great start in writing their own music ✏️

There will be an emphasis on interactivity 🙋, working together 👏🏼and applying everything students learn to music they're interested in playing, singing and creating 🎹🎸

Suitable for ages 9-14.

FIVE spaces available for a term three start.

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