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school-busBy Meridith Johnson

The days becoming noticeably shorter seems to ring in a new season with yellow school busses packed with children in every seat, excited to head back to school.  Every fall seems to welcome new beginnings as students return to sports, school and activities with a blank page of possibilities ahead this year.

Music lessons beginning again for our students this fall also carries with it a sense of excitement.  I love getting to see all my students who have taken a break over the summer.  Some students struggle with motivation after a break, what are some ways as teachers we can be a positive, musical influence in the lives of our students?  Here are just a few tips as we begin a new year:

1.  Verbally encourage students where they are

It can be discouraging after a summer of little or no practice to return to an instrument.  Encouraging students to pick up where they left off and work hard without comparing to where other students are can be a good place to start.

2.  Encourage regular practice

Research has shown that it takes about 21 days for something to become a habit.  By encouraging students to make practice a regular part of their week at the time school also begins, students will be back on a regular routine within the first few weeks of school beginning.

3.   Review, review, review

When my students have had a break from lessons, I typically will begin us on a song the student knows fairly well to review.  Reviewing things like dynamics, time signature, and basic music theory can give the child confidence in what they know, and can be a learning opportunity as the new year begins to grow in specific areas.


Obviously there are many ways to encourage students as we begin a new year, what other practical tips are helpful for teachers as we begin a new year?