Ways to keep music lesson plans enjoyable and relevant.

A critical part of a music teachers week is preparing lesson plans 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.

For those who are just starting out, here are a few guidelines for creating compelling music lesson plans.

1. Consider the students age group and situation

A very good starting point when you are preparing a lesson is to think about the age of the children you are teaching. What do they like, and what do they hate? What music do they listen to on the radio? Are there any other cultural influences that affect them a their current development level? Are they at an age where they are extremely hesitant to do anything in-front of their peers?

These are the questions that you need to think about when preparing a music lesson plan. Ready made lesson plans that you might buy or find online that are created in a rigid format usually don’t work. Each individual class and student needs to have the lesson plan tailored to their individual needs. Once a teacher has been teaching for a number of years they are able to do this adaptation in an instant, referencing the lesson plans that are in their head, and adapting as they go. However when you are beginning your teaching career an excellent starting point is to spend a little while researching the age group.

2. Always plan more than you’ll need

Often you’ll prepare a lesson with (say) ten activities. 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

Most music lessons are often segregated into set activities: One lesson for the week will be theory, one practical, one history and one aural (or something like that). However if its possible, why not try to vary it 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. Keep the students enthused by not letting them know what to expect!

4. Think simple – then expand

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 instance in a practical lesson it is always a good idea to plan for a piece being way too difficult 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. Keep some easier music theory worksheets in reserve just in case you need them!

5. Listen to feedback

Students will give you feedback – even if it is extremely subtle. Students (particularly teenagers) will never say “Mrs Jones I thought you did a brilliant job today, you gave us a lesson that was lots of fun and we learned heaps.” It might happen in your dreams, but not 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. Students when they enjoy music will also put a priority on band or orchestra ahead of other things. When you start to see this you’ll know that your music lesson planning is going well.