Teaching on the sly
September 11, 2014 3:29 AM   Subscribe

Music teaching n00b filter. I now have a tablet with ear training software I use in lessons and discovered the kids quite automatically pick up terms like "minor second" which I hadn't dreamt about teaching them yet. Just as they're in the app. Then when they're stuck on a melody on their instrument I say "go up a minor second here" and it works. Holy interval, batman! What are similar ways you use to teach musical concepts without being all obvious about it? Would it be correct to classify this as active/experiental learning and what are your favourite resources?

So I found a 5 year old learns the exercise on the app in about 10 seconds and naturally accepts that the words for the intervals are what they are. I see now I am still thinking too much like "Student, listen up I will teach you [concept]" and the student rightfully goes "Umm sounds hard so maybe not? kthxbye" D'oh! Teachers of Metafilter, I apologise for my n00b question. Please help me to up my game!

I do am aware one factor is tablet and iPad time is a good of artificial scarcity with children which is why the unwavering laserlike attention I would have to be some kind of pokemon god to produce otherwise. But there must be many other ways are there to jump on the bandwagon of things children are interested in. Which are your favourites?

(For anyone interested in the tablet specifics, the app I have is Perfect Ear 2, and the tablet is a £50 refurbished Nook from eBay (not rooted, just installed NovaLauncher from the play store). Apart from the ear training [Perfect Ear 2, Pitch Improver Lite] it also records and catalogues pupils' playing over time [HD recorder, Soundcloud] and shares it with parents [Gmail, Soundcloud]. It has an app which lets kids layer sounds as if with a looping pedal [Looper]. They can do flash cards of music notes [Music Sight Reading, Solfega] It also keeps my pupil notes [EverNote], times my lessons [Countdown Timer widget] and plays youtubes of pupils favourite songs. Amongst other things. I'm kind of surprised I'm still finding work actually.)
posted by yoHighness to Education (2 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Just be aware, in general, that kids are super quick learners, don't hold them back when (not if) they show interest or potential, and that kids are much more capable than adults, really.

Also be aware that no matter what specific instrument you teach, you are teaching music in general. I get too many transfer students who literally only learned piano and they can't expand their experience into the greater world of music. They know that a third is a skip on the piano keyboard, but they are blown away when I tell them that a third is also a third when two flutes play a third, or on guitar, etc. It's weird.

I think of my students as little colleagues and not actually students. It has worked for 20+ years of teaching music...
posted by TinWhistle at 7:40 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: With young students, especially in a one-on-one situation, you can very much just start using various concepts and vocabulary in context. If they look confused, it's helpful to have a simple one-sentence explanation ready to go--or even better, a quick example: "This is a minor second [play it] - this is a major second [play it] - see the difference?"

It's also helpful to have as supplements to one-on-one teaching, things like regular group class, or workbooks, or computer learning programs of some sort, particularly because in those settings you can systematically cover concepts and ideas. Products like this are specifically designed for young music students. Here is a review of a few similar/related products.

But if you just use terms and concepts in context and naturally as musicians do, they will pick up an incredible amount just from context, and you shouldn't be afraid to do so.
posted by flug at 11:24 AM on September 11, 2014

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