Written by & under Program Development.

mtJG4LWAs the end of March approaches, I am aware that there are just a few short months until summer. For music teachers, summer brings change. It may mean more work, it may mean less, it may be a stressful time because of money worries, or a relaxed time because of advanced planning and clear expectations. But no matter what your summer holds for you this year, chances are that it will be a break from your typical weekly music teaching schedule.

From the time we were young children, going to school was a given, an expectation. For many of us, that pattern of school year/summer break continued well into adulthood with college and often, further advanced degrees. But then, one day, it stopped. No more required exams. No more automatic private lessons on our instrument. No more crunch time at the end of each semester. Most of us breathed a sigh of relief. We began working, teaching, performing, auditioning, all the while acquiring new skills as we began our professional music careers.

Then one day we all come to a point of feeling comfortable in our career. We know the landscape. We are good, solid teachers and performers. We have enough students and gigs to pay the bills. But is “comfortable” enough? Do you feel knowledgable about the new technology available to music teachers? Have you expanded your repertoire of music, of teaching ideas, of different learning styles? Are you caught up on the current music education research and methodologies?

Summer is a wonderful time to transition from teacher back to student, to learn something new, to challenge your comfort zone.

Here is an excerpt by Gary L. Ingle, published in The American Music Teacher in October, 2010.

At these conferences, you – the music teacher – become the music student. This transformation is necessary, even crucial, to the continuation of our profession. For, music only lives through a constant receiving and giving away. So, all of us, regardless of age or status, are both music teacher and music student.

Recently, I read a startling statistic: Practicing physicians were surveyed regarding their continuing education practices and how up to date they were on the most recent advances in medicine. A whopping 5 1 percent were found to be lacking in contemporary knowledge of the latest advances in medical research, diagnoses, treatments and technology. Like you, I was stunned by the percentage. As a person who receives medical care, it is important to me that my physician is continuing his education and remains up to date on the latest information in medical research and practice.

As I read this statistic, I wondered about the music teaching profession in general and MTNA members in particular. Are music teachers committed to continuing their education and staying up to date on the latest advances in pedagogy, methodology, techniques, research, equipment and the like in music teaching? And, more importantly, should not music students expect their teachers to have the same commitment to continuing education we expect of physicians and other professionals? Of course, the answers to both questions should be an emphatic “YES!”

What are you doing to embrace being a Life-Long Learner? Every summer I travel to Suzuki Institutes around North America teaching coursers for teachers. Whether I am teaching an introductory Book 1 course or the final Book 9 course, I hand out a Personal Goals Sheet to every participant. At the end of the course I ask them to return the questionnaire to me. Then, six months later, I send it back to them. It is a great mid-year reminder of their own expressed goals. The areas of study I ask each teacher to create a goal are: Studio development, Professional development, Personal instrumental study, Performance, Reading or exploration of topics.

As summer quickly approaches, I encourage you to look over the following list of organizations and training opportunities. Find time to take a local or online class this summer. Attend a workshop. Participate or audit a masterclass on your instrument. Read about learning styles, current developments in teaching, or another topic that has piqued your interest. Embrace the change that summer brings. Enjoy!

MTNA summer programs: http://members.mtna.org/summerprograms

MTNA Certifications Program: http://www.mtnacertification.org/

American Strings Teacher Association: www.astaweb.com

Music Together Teacher Training: http://www.musictogether.com/TeacherTrainingWorkshop

Kindermusik Teacher Training: http://www.kindermusik.com/

American Orff-Shulwerk Association: http://www.aosa.org/

Organization of American Kodaly Educators: http://oake.org/EndorsedPrograms/

Suzuki Association of the Americas: http://suzukiassociation.org/events/institutes/

Yamaha Music Education System: http://www.yamaha.com/YMES/musicschools/

Dalcroze Society of America: http://www.dalcrozeusa.org/workshops-and-classes/adult-summer

Soundtree Institute courses: http://institute.soundtree.com/Tour.aspx

National Association for Music Education: http://www.menc.org/careers/view/career-center-continuing-education