Professional Certification: What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?

By Wallace, Deborah | American Music Teacher, October-November 2006 | Go to article overview

Professional Certification: What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?


Wallace, Deborah, American Music Teacher


This is the first of a two-part series. The second part will be presented in the December/January AMT.

Our teaching philosophies identify our approaches, goals and motivation for doing what we do. We are all in the business of nurturing. Teaching music is very personal, individual and complex, but it is often more difficult to define than its counterpart--learning. A philosophy statement is the first required element in the MTNA Professional Certification Program final comprehensive examination and in the portfolio.

With the hope of having every teacher develop a teaching philosophy statement to fit their unique aims and abilities, the National Certification Commissioners have agreed to share their own teaching philosophies.

--Deborah Wallace, NCTM, Northwest Division Commissioner

As a nationally certified piano instructor, it is my responsibility to encourage, guide, and develop the musical potential of each and every one of my students, to the best of my ability. I believe each and every piano student should get as broad-based a musical education in as fun-loving an environment as I can possibly create. I want my students to learn not only to play piano literature, but to also be well-versed in score reading, rhythmic reading, theoretical and technical understanding, ear training, improvising and transposing. I want to help my students become responsible, disciplined, independently practice-oriented, and appreciative of the value of hard work. I try to instill, in my students, the belief that music sharing is essential for a lifetime of creativity and pleasure. I try to uphold and to pass along these goals through my own continued studies, performances, and involvement in professional activities. I pledge to attempt to make music study an enjoyable, educational, on-going, lifelong experience for all of my students.

--Karen Taddie, NCTM, Eastern Division

I try to share with my students my love of life, learning and music in hopes they will also develop a love of the music they study and perform. Hopefully, the experiences they have working towards musical literacy in piano performance will provide a foundation for a lifetime of musical enjoyment. Yet at the same time, I want them to enjoy the process of learning to play the piano. As a teacher, I try to provide a well-rounded musical experience with many opportunities for my students. My teaching philosophy is based on the following concepts:

* Nearly every individual has a desire to improve his knowledge and abilities.

* We seldom achieve excellence unless we are expected to excel.

* Goals must be within the realm of one's developmental abilities, yet often students are able to accomplish much more than might be expected.

* Every individual has his own learning process.

* Regardless of my best efforts, almost every student has a phase when he or she wants to ease off on practicing or quit lessons.

* There is much that can be done to make learning fun, but the bottom line is: if you're going to be a good piano player, you're going to have to work.

* Almost every child will do for the teacher what he may refuse to do for a parent.

* My favorite guide in teaching is to ask, "What is best for the student?"

* Ideally, music study should begin early, before a child is 7.

* Just because you're older than 10 years doesn't mean you're too old!

* Finally, the piano was created for pleasure, not torture!

--Debra Hadfield, NCTM, South Central Division

Every student should learn to enjoy music for his immediate and future benefit. Each student, commensurate with his ability, is assisted in meeting his aesthetic needs by developing 1) independent musicianship through active participation in comprehensive music experiences at all stages of development; and, 2) the ability to respond with discrimination to the aesthetic expressiveness and moral value of music. …

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