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Do you have what it takes to be a Music Teacher?

Many parents do not mind investing their time and money in sending their children for music, dance and arts enrichment classes, as these classes are reckoned to be imparting skills to complement their children’s academic studies. It completes the missing pieces in a holistic education that most parents favour. Some children end up doing very well, but unfortunately some fall out halfway stating loss of interest as the reason. As this is a very niche industry, most parents do not quite know how it functions. As most of these classes are done in an instructional way, has anyone questioned whether the teacher, who instructs is qualified?

I have concluded after more than 20 years in this industry that no teaching concept or method can be successful without qualified teachers delivering the method with full conviction and zest in their teaching. There are of course some who are born to have a talent in teaching; they can get by without going through a proper training course. However, most of us still need to be taught in aspects of teaching such as “stages of development”, “children’s behavior”, “Intervention method”, “lesson planning”, “reflection practices”..…etc and especially going through “practicum” to hone one’s teaching skill first before teachers take on the responsibility of educating our children.

When we watch a talented young musician performing with vigor or a talented artist draws extraordinarily, do we think of the unsung heroes behind the scene? The ones who really build the skills from scratch, step by step, bit by bit? Some teachers claim to only take “talented” students to match their social status in the industry. To me, that does not show the real skills of their teaching but to only claim credit from someone who has done the real job.

In the ABRSM teaching diploma syllabus, there is a paragraph that says about the assessment of case study portfolio that each candidate must submit: “it allows you to demonstrate a holistic approach to teaching: preparation, delivery, responsiveness, reflection, improvement through deepening insight”. (source: page 31 from the ABRSM Instrument/Vocal/Teaching Diploma syllabus). That generally has described all of the skills that a teacher needs to do the job well. Some claim that music exams kill the interests of students, but I feel that the problems lie more on the teaching skills of teachers. The music examination board has never encouraged students to only play the 3 examination repertoire every year, just to pass their examination. Examination syllabus should be a guide for teaching; teachers must be able to design a teaching curriculum to teach, rather to teach only the examination components. We are in full support of the wonderful work that all music examination boards have done to spur the interests of music learning in this region. However, we need good teachers to sustain and keep the interests going.

Flora Lim


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