Lesson plans are an indispensable tool for music teachers. They are very important to the success of both one lesson and the teachers career in general.

There is nothing like the old saying “If you don’t prepare, then prepare to fail”. However, once you are a little more experienced then preparing lesson plans becomes a lot easier.

Here are a few tips and tricks for writing lesson plans for music for those who are just starting out

1. Consider the students age group and situation

The best thing to start with when preparing any lesson is to consider the age of the students you will be presenting to. What are their likes and dislikes? What music do they listen to on the radio? Are there any other cultural influences that affect them a their current development level? Sometimes they can be at an age where they are very shy in front of their peer group – is this one of those ages?

These are the questions that you need to think about when preparing a music lesson plan. This is why ready made, fit all situations lesson plan usually doesn’t work. Lesson plans need to be tailored to the needs of the students in each individual class. When a teacher has been in the classroom for a few years they are usually able to do these adaptations on the spot, and may seem to not have to prepare at all. However when you are beginning your teaching career an excellent starting point is to spend a little while researching the age group.

2. Have much more than you thought you would planned

You might prepare a lesson with approximately ten points to cover in your music lesson plan. Sometimes when you use this lesson you’ll only get through five points and the lesson will be over. If you were to do the same lesson with a different class you might go through all ten points and there will still be another 20 minutes left! You just don’t know for sure, and that is why its always a good idea to have a backup plan. If you have a few minutes its a good idea to have a game or a fun work sheet copied and ready, just in case you need it.

3. Mix up your activities as much as possible

In many schools the curriculum is planned for set lessons for the week: one lesson will practical, one theory etc. Often this is unavoidable due to practical concerns and the length of the school lessons, however why not try and mix them around a bit. If you’re not limited by rooms try spending half the lesson on practical, then moving into theory based on the materials you were just playing. It’ll be interesting for the students and keep them guessing.

4. Start simple – simpler than you might think!

if you’re working on something a little complicate, you may want to have a backup which is a very simplified version – just in case! This is particularly needed if working with young students. For example if you’re introducing a new piece of music in a practical lesson you may wish to plan for the scenario of it being way too hard for the students. Start with a section that you know the students will be able to play, then come back and deal with the harder sections.

5. The feedback is there for you, if you listen for it!

Students will give you feedback – even if it is extremely subtle. Teenage students (and pretty much most students for that matter!) will never say “Mr Brown, I thought you did a wonderful job today, we learned heaps, and had fun at the same time!” Perhaps you might have a dream that your student says that – but its not going to happen in real life! What you will see is students eager to come to your classes, and happy to have a joke with you at an appropriate time. You’ll also see students putting band or orchestra ahead of their other activities. When this happens, you’ll know that what you are doing is on the right track.