Top tips for music teachers!
NOT intended to be patronizing !!


When running large bands etc.  take the pressure off by getting one or more kids to do jobs like taking registers, putting reminders in registers, chasing up absentees, setting up stands and tidying up music.  Reward them at the end of the year with a certificate and merit points.
Rob Jones, Hull


Get on well with the caretakers and office staff.  They can make life very difficult for you if they don't like you.  Do them a favour now and again, buy them chocs at Christmas and take the time to talk to them.
Rob Jones, Hull


Look after your instrumental teachers.  If you create a comfortable working environment for them, they will reward you with higher standards and will want to work with you (not for you!).  Create a social base for them, with a kettle.  Talk to them and get to know them as real people, not part timers.
Rob Jones, Hull


Put your assessments on a spreadsheet on the computer.  Figures on computer can easily be turned into statistics for Senior management information.  In the long run it will save you hours of time.  Remember to back your files up regularly though!
Rob Jones, Hull


Create a logo for your department.  An identity within the school is important for the status of your subject, no matter what you might think.  Better still - get one of the kids to design one and award a prize.
Rob Jones, Hull


Take an interest in what is going on in chart music.  The kids certainly do, and what kind of music teacher are you if you can't make conversation with them about the latest hits!?
Rob Jones, Hull


Try to take an interest in pop music if you are a die-hard classicist.  How can you call the kids narrow minded if you are displaying exactly the same traits!?
Rob Jones, Hull


Always be polite and never show pressure.  Keep a smile going all day if possible.  Greet pupils and staff with 'Hello, how are you?' and tell them to have a nice day when you leave them.  It is human nature to be pleasant with someone who takes the time to be pleasant with you.
Rob Jones, Hull


If you are wrong about something, then saying 'sorry' is usually the best way to get out of a tight corner.  If you totally lose your rag with a pupil for example, and later you think you went a bit over the top (and we all do it!).  Instead of getting a nasty phone call from the parent in the morning and losing sleep knowing it's going to happen, just apologise to the pupil.
Rob Jones, Hull


Type memos and keep copies on your computer.  You might just need the copy occasionally to prove you sent it.
Rob Jones, Hull


Keep your rooms tidy.  The working environment for pupils and staff must be pleasant and well maintained if you are to expect good work, respect for the subject and respect for resources.
Rob Jones, Hull


Sell obsolete equipment to pupils at a cheap price.  This will generate income to buy new equipment.
Rob Jones, Hull


Go to a gym or do some regular exercise.  Music needs to be dynamically and energetically taught.  If you are out of shape, you are unlikely to perform well.  Exercise also makes you sharper, brighter and generally more 'on the ball'
Rob Jones, Hull


If confronted by a bear, don't run or make eye contact.  Look down, submissively, don't turn your back and walk backwards slowly.
Anon


Eat lunch!  If you don't you'll just eat more after school and get fat.  Also, try to drink as much water as you can.
Rob Jones, Hull


Advertise the fact that you can purchase instruments for pupils at VAT free prices.
Rob Jones, Hull


Always shop around for cheaper deals.  Play off one supplier with another.  If you can get say a glock, cheaper at another supplier, go back to the first one and get them to beat the deal.  They usually can.  Try to build a relationship with your local music shop, they deserve your business and CAN compete.
Rob Jones, Hull


Find an electronic repairer where you can drop off broken equipment and pick it up on a regular basis.  Don't just stick it all in a box for repair 'sometime'.
Rob Jones, Hull


Learn to be assertive while also being polite and fair.  If you think you are being given a raw deal from Senior management, write down why you think it is wrong on an official memo and circulate it to all concerned.  Always relate your criticism to how it will adversely affect the kids - it always has more impact this way!
Rob Jones, Hull


Don't be too serious.  Try to laugh during the day, tell a joke or two.  Laughter and joviality do incredible things to the atmosphere of a music department.
Rob Jones, Hull


Never bear a grudge against another member of staff.  You might have to work with them for another 20 or more years.
Rob Jones, Hull


Don't sit there whingeing about how little capitation you get from the school.  There's money out there so find it.  Increase the status of music in the school by smartening up the displays, the rooms and the curriculum.  The school will soon learn to respect the status of music and will be more willing to invest in it.
Rob Jones, Hull


Have photographs of your loved ones in your own space or desk.  This can have lots of benefits.  Firstly, if things get difficult during the day, it's good to look at your photos and calm down a little.  Secondly, it reminds everyone that you really are human after all!
Rob Jones, Hull


Learn how to tune  guitars,  violins,  violas and cellos
Rob Jones, Hull


Plan some time in the year for yourself.  Have perhaps 2 months where bands, choirs and orchestras don't run.  Use this time to catch up on your professional development.  Learn how to use that piece of software.  Develop some good schemes of work.  Go down the pub with some colleagues at lunchtime and have a laugh.  Do a bit of sport.  Usually the best time to do this is at the end of the year, when exam classes have left.
Rob Jones, Hull


Provide visiting instrumental staff with their own pigeon holes. Pupils can contact them directly if they can't make a lesson, need to change a time etc. It makes pupils less reliant on you as their messenger! You can also keep them informed of departmental news that you might not get chance to tell them about.
Jules Hall, Tamworth


Wherever possible make sure that concert and show dates are published on the school calendar. Also indicate where your final in-school rehearsal will be i.e. on the afternoon of the concert. It makes for easier relations with other staff if they have been given a lot of notice!
 Alison Roe, Nottingham


Prepare a selection of self-contained worksheets which can be used for cover if you are ill, invigilating a practical exam or involved in school liaison. Make sure that they are easily accessible.
  Alison Roe, Nottingham


Pace yourself with school musical activities especially at Christmas. It is easy to end up providing entertainment for a plethora of Christmas shooping events, carol singing and charity dinners etc. as the school 'shop window'. Organise a sensible limit and rotate between organisations. Tell any disappointed folks that they are your priority next year ...or the year after...
  Alison Roe, Nottingham


Organise an annual Christmas carol competition - entries to be submitted by end October. You can give a performance opportunity to your young composers and you'll definitely have some original music in your carol service/ concert!
 Alison Roe, Nottingham


Arborio rice is much better for risotto than long grain rice.  Use this also for Paella
Anon


Invite A level students to help with training bands/junior orchestra etc.  Many A level boards make this an option for practical coursework, so use the students, but make sure that they log what they are doing, so that they have an up-to-date diary . This will help you with final assessments.
Ann Williams, Barry, Wales


Try to ensure that A level students do some community work in the music department, perhaps helping in  practical key stage 3 lessons. Younger pupils need role models!
Ann Williams, Barry, Wales


Enter the BBC Song for Christmas. Make it part of your programme and watch the creative dynamism it generates go off the scale.   Students love it and they 'spark' off each other.
Ian Dyer


Educate your audience on how to behave during a concert.  Most people don't know that you shouldn't leave in the middle of a song or that you shouldn't clap between movements.  Put a small blurb in your program. They will appreciate when they go to a professional concert and don't embarrass themselves.
Joanna Walters, Duluth, Michigan


To raise a substantial amount of funding for the music department hold a "Junior Concert" early in the Autumn term.  Involve the whole of year 7 and feature years 7 - 9 soloists and ensembles.  Always include a slot for your best ensemble!  (This will give the youngsters in the school something to
aspire towards).   I put on such an event every November and use year 7 curriculum time to learn a series of songs or a short cantata.  Last year the date coincided with Armitice Day so the finale was a selection of War songs accompanied by the  Wind Band.  Nearly all parents of Year 7 attend and I charge a ticket price of £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children.  I always run a raffle and the event in November raised an extra £650 for the department!  (of course this is always assuming that your Head allows you to keep the funds you  generate!!)
Jill Parkin , Chelmsford


Team up with your technology department. Tell them how wonderful they are and how you'd love to have their skills. Then ... ask them to fix some of your instruments for you!
Elsa, London


Never forget why you took the job in the first place.
Not all pupils will be high flyers.
The plodders will always provide the backbone of your Ensembles and will remember you in later years with affection for the opportunity you gave them.
Eunice King, Dundee


Put regular warm up chord sequences onto powerpoint and as classes arrive allow kids to jam before the music lesson.  It gets them involved in music from the start and takes the strain off the teacher setting the lesson up.

Kevin Smart,  Northampton



"Please sir, how do you spell rythmn, .. rhyhthnm ... rithum ... ?"
    Rhythm
    Has
    Your
    Two
   Hips
   Moving
Easy!

Mervyn Watling, Kent



During the build-up to a concert, ask your librarian to handle the sale of the tickets.  She is not only available every lunch time, but will also be able to keep any monies safe and documented, so you know what is what
Jonathan Chapman - Hessle, East Yorkshire



Establish a good relationship with your students, showa genuine interest and appreciation for them, and itwill be returned two-fold.  They won't perform or actaccordingly for someone they can't respect.
Laura Patschke - Thorndale, Texas


Look for sources of inspiration beyond yourself.Take the opportunity to network with other music specialists.Find out who the best,well respected practitioners are (ask your peris - they see a lot of good and bad) and take the trouble to watch them in action.

Amanda Jarvis - Harrow


Run a talent quest to promote your department. Cash in on the worldwide success of "Idol" by running your own school version. Run it in the school hall and charge a small fee for admission (50c). Students love watching other students perform. Select a small group of kids to help run the sound (they will gladly help with set-up).Promote it in the school notices, hold auditions and run it at lunchtime. Be sure to let your local music shop know you are running it (they may donate gift vouchers or prizes)

With a little adaptation (dressing up as one of the judges!) and creativity, you can turn the "Idol final" into a whole school activity with prizes for the winners and provide massive PR for your department (as well as a tidy profit)



Kyle Williams Wyong, NSW, Australia


Give students much positive praise. It encourages them to be more motivated and respect you more.

Linda Dixon - Umina, NSW AUSTRALIA



Make the classroom as colourful as possible and have a noticeboard in the room for anything weird and wonderful which is coming up at the opera house or local theatre. They keep their eyes posted for the changes.

Linda Dixon - Umina, NSW AUSTRALIA

 

Send your tips to me...

rob@mtrs.co.uk