Teacher, students and creative work

by Tatyana Divina


Here are a few tips for those who are interested in turning music classes into joint creative work by the teacher and the student, for those who want students to love their music lessons! I have written this for those who work with children. And, of course, for those who want to read this. I hope my recommendations will be useful for those who teach young musicians and consider their teaching to be creative. Creativity is the key word when we speak about not only music lessons but bringing up a child in general. By the way, my husband and I used inventive methods to bring up our three children and I must say this worked pretty well for us. All of my children learned to read at the age of three, were good at counting and drawing. They were helped by their favorite fairy-tale characters who “sent” them letters with all sorts of tasks, wishes and, which is essential, rewards every day. And although all of them chose to become doctors, they are very creative personalities. And creative personalities are really capable of enjoying life, they never feel bored and neither do people around them!

Love is what lies at the core of everything in this world, of course!
Love is at the core of any kind of education as well. Love and patience. An ill-tempered teacher who vents emotions at classes proves powerless in terms of creative work. There is a long-known truth: inspiring and teaching students to gain knowledge and skills is far more important than actually teaching them some knowledge and a number of skills. A teacher who fails to encourage students to learn more about the subject does not teach them to seek, does not inspire them with creative curiosity. The task is to introduce the student to the world of art, awaken his or her creative abilities, arm him or her with technical skills. It is very important for teachers to be fascinated with art so that they can share the passion with their students.
Passing your fascination with music, a musical instrument to your student is what matters most.
Look at the admiration in the eyes of our students as we show them our music skills, performing on an instrument at the first class! This encourages them to take lessons with great enthusiasm and interest, which must not fade later.
I believe it is common knowledge that musical notation should not be taught at the first few classes. This makes classes dry and boring. Sheet music should be introduced gradually, without any compulsion, along with games. Children grow tired quickly at the beginning of the course, that is why classes should have exercise breaks that can develop the child’s both attention and skills. Children really love to perform easy physical exercises at a certain tempo set by their teacher playing their favorite instrument.
The amount of homework should not be big and the tasks should not be difficult.
When the child learns to play at least a couple of songs with both hands, they should be written down in a special notebook, with new entries added as the training progresses. New pieces should be added to the student’s repertoire throughout the course. If a student is told to perform three or four random pieces in his notebook at each class, he or she will be able to play a broad repertoire. Children are happy to realize that they can perform something on a musical instrument, this holds true even for mediocre students. Teachers must help them strengthen this feeling. Students normally tend to forget pieces after performing them at exams!
All students should have a repertoire of their own. This is needed not only for boosting their self-esteem. It can be used very widely. For instance, they can give solo concerts to an audience of their peers. While they may be short, such recitals still must help the children view themselves as true artists. Such events must be promoted with the help of posters and performers must be presented with gifts and flowers at the end of the “show.” This gives children an opportunity to realize their importance and gives an impetus to their work. Even poor students should play recitals. This will encourage them to work harder. Posters, flowers, gifts and a packed hall are a must in this case as well.
Students also should perform during musical contests in front of their parents. Spectators and the jury, which must consist of parents, are given handbills with the repertoire of each contestant. Each spectator can choose a piece from the list that he wants to hear. Parents must be involved in arranging such events. They cannot remain indifferent to such shows where their children compete and this inspires them to follow their child’s musical training closer.

But all this does not mean that music classes should be perceived by children and their parents as complete entertainment rather than hard work.

What is really great about a big repertoire is that the student can play pieces from it together with the teacher. The child is delighted when the teacher prepares to play the second instrument and they perform together a common tune that now sounds quite different! This also helps the student build ensemble play skills.
What are other ways to use the student’s ever-expanding repertoire creatively? It can be used for creating musical fairy tales. With some help from his teacher, the child writes a work of literature, a fairy tale! And pieces from the repertoire notebook help set the fairy tale to music. Their rhythm, tempo and nature may be adjusted to create a necessary atmosphere for the fairy tale. The author can play such musical fairy tales at short concerts in the kindergarten, at literature and drawing classes, contributing to a more creative atmosphere. Small spectators normally give a warm welcome to musical fairy tales at short recitals during rest breaks taken by the “artist.” Musical fairy tales are usually presented by the concert’s host. The development of imagination and creative appearance is one of the most important functions of music. That is why, the composition of not only fairy tales but also music becomes common in children’s musical education.
Facing the need to set certain lyrics and rhythm to a simple tune, children make their brain work better, seek to solve the task on their own, get used to independent creative self-expression, start believing in their own creative powers. Children perform their own works with much delight, encouraging those who do not compose musical pieces to do this. If the child has difficulty writing a tune, the teacher can suggest composing a certain rhythm and writing it down first, and then getting back to the tune.
It is common knowledge that quick learners are more interested in studies. High grades inspire students. The teacher must seek to put as many high grades at a class as possible. If the teacher cannot put a good mark for homework, he or she may do this for the student’s work in the classroom. The teacher must allow even mediocre students to receive a good mark for their work in the classroom. If the student works on gammas and the repertoire at each class, he or she receives an additional good mark for performing related tasks as a rule. An extra good mark can be put to the student for picking up an unfamiliar tune on an instrument or reading sheet music correctly.

But all this does not mean that bad marks should not be put for failure to do homework.

For developing his or her musical memory the student must spend three to four minutes at each class on learning a short piece and playing it from memory, with the performance graded by the teacher. The child normally works hard to remember the tune to play it from memory four minutes later: this gives him or her an extra opportunity to get a good mark! And the task is not accomplished only on rare occasions. Every teacher should keep in mind that all students have something to be praised for. And this should be done as often as possible.
The child should view the teacher not only as an instructor but also as a friend who is capable of understanding his or her problems, sharing his or her joy and turning their communication into a fruitful dialogue, which can improve the skills of both the teacher and student.

I wish you success!

© 2008 Tatyana Divina