String Pedagogy: How To Teach String Instruments

A short list of ways teachers might choose their particular pedagogy, and adapt teaching styles for string instruments.

String pedagogy refers to the teaching of string instruments. Each teacher is using a form of pedagogy when they instruct a class, whether or not it's a "popular" method. In fact, most teachers use a variety of pedagogies when they instruct students. There are several factors teachers need to take into consideration when choosing the correct pedagogy or combination of pedagogies for their students.

* What kind of teaching situation is it? The approach to teaching is going to be different depending on the number of students involved: individual, small groups, or large groups.

* How much control do you have over the environment? There might be limitations on what can be done based on the space and time available.

* What are the ages of the students involved? The younger the students, the more attention they will need from a teacher, which will affect the type of pedagogy used. It will also affect what they are able to understand; it may require more "games" at a younger age or more seriousness at an older age. It will also affect the teaching method based on whether or not students can read yet. There are more options for students who can read and take some responsibility for learning on their own than there are for non-reading students.

* What are the teachers' strengths in learning? A teacher who is more visual may teach that way; same with teachers who are more auditory or kinesthetic. A private teacher may adjust depending on her students' strength, and a well-trained classroom teacher may try to adjust for all strengths.

* What are the teacher's beliefs about teaching methods? A teacher may swear by one particular method that his/her teacher used, or that s/he learned in a college methods class.



* What is the teacher's philosophy of music education? Some teachers may work solely on the instrument itself, while others believe in working on all aspects of music. One teacher may spend part of the time working on singing, rhythm, note reading, and other aspects of learning music.

* Is the teacher responsible for a mixed instrument class, or for a one-instrument class? A teacher in a single-instrument class can focus on instruction solely for that instrument, rather than explaining two or three different ways of doing everything. It also cuts down on reading the different clefs, which happens in mixed string groups.

* What is the personality and strength of the class? Each class is different, so their pace and teaching approach may be different. This is also true for individual students to an even greater degree. A good private teacher will tailor his or her method to fit each student.

* What books and other materials are available? A teacher may not have a choice about what to use; a school district or higher teacher may specify. The price or local selection may be limiting as well. The books available determine the type of music available, which may dictate what the teacher must teach, or even the method itself.

* What are the teacher's beliefs about the progression of skills? Not all teachers agree in what order skills should be taught, and the particular teacher's thoughts on the matter will affect how s/he teaches.

All of these issues and more will affect how a teacher teaches. Each teacher will have his or her own unique style, for these and other reasons. Most teachers will draw on what they have learned from their teachers, and what they learn along the way, and will come up with their own, individual and constantly changing teaching method.

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