8 Best Practice Tips for Whole Class Instrumental Teaching

  1. Teach MUSIC not the instrument! Focus on the development of musical skills, using the instrument as the carrier for learning. You’re not going to get all 30 children playing with perfect technique at the same rate as you would with a smaller group, and the majority won’t carry on with the instrument anyway, so teach them transferable musical skills that can be used on other instruments or in other musical contexts.
  2. Use VOICES as well as instruments. Singing internalises musical concepts and acts as an essential stepping stone between these and the physical act of playing. For children who struggle with the instrument, singing ensures that musical learning is still taking place, despite any technical difficulties.
  3. Be CREATIVE. Aim for your pupils to develop as performers, listeners and composers/improvisers, to give them a more rounded, and interesting, musical experience.
  4. Teach the NATIONAL CURRICULUM. Let’s face it, unless you’re very lucky, no-one else is going to do this for the duration of your instrumental project, so make sure you’re including NC content in your sessions.
  5. INVOLVE the school. Co-plan with the music coordinator and class teacher. Involve the class teacher or teaching assistant in sessions with specific tasks to carry out. Ensure that the musical content of your project fits into the overall music scheme of work for the school. Participate in concerts, assemblies and events.
  6. DIFFERENTIATE your teaching. Don’t expect all pupils to do the same task at the same time. Some will need support, some may need a completely different task, according to their ability.
  7. Use TECHNOLOGY wisely. Performing with a backing track can be motivating for pupils as it raises the quality of their performance, and makes them feel that they are playing ‘real’ music. Watching videos of musicians play, and using apps and games can also be motivating, but make sure that any technology is used to enhance learning, not just for the sake of ticking the ICT box.
  8. Explore different STYLES. Just because you’re learning the violin, it doesn’t mean you have to just play classical music. Using a variety of different musical styles in your sessions broadens children’s musical horizons, and motivates them to fully participate.

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