Teaching music can be tremendously rewarding and enjoyable. Music teachers frequently mention the satisfaction of watching someone be inspired by the joys of music, learning to play the instrument they love, or overcoming a lack of confidence in their abilities to master a tricky piece. As with any other subject, being part of a student achieving their goals is an exciting experience.
But this is about the other side of teaching music–the part that most teachers would rather not have to deal with. There are some things that music teachers never like to hear said to them. Some of these are probably relatively common to all teachers regardless of the subject in which they work, like the typical excuses for not doing homework or being absent from a test. And let’s not forget the excessive requests or demands made by some parents or school head teachers. As this music teacher explains on their blog, it isn’t really practical to update the parents on every assignment or test score their pupils get when you are responsible for over 100 students.
Other dreaded comments are more music specific. These often relate to stereotypes about music as a school subject, for example, the idea that it is somehow worth less than other core subjects such as the sciences, maths or English literature. Just how widespread this idea seems to be can be seen in the extent of cuts to funding for music education, which along with other arts subjects tend to be the first to lose money.
On a personal level, the idea of music being a luxury rather than something that offers essential benefits often translates in to the wide variety of excuses for failing to practice that are so familiar to teachers. Or perhaps a certain belief that taking music as a subject is an easy option if you want to have a bit of fun rather than fighting your way through thick textbooks on French grammar.
Linked to the idea of music being less important is the misconception that anyone can teach it. As this music teacher writes on their blog, all that it takes is for someone to have played guitar in high school and they think they could be a music teacher. Either that or if they’ve recently watched School of Rock.
Of course, not all of the remarks on the list of things below to avoid saying to a music teacher are connected to these misconceptions. But if you look through the following ten things you should never say to a music teacher, whether as a student, parent or colleague, you’ll be surprised at how many of them actually are.
1. I’m behind with maths. Is it ok if I miss this class so I can catch up?
2. How come she didn’t get an A for that piece? I’ve heard it and it sounds great.
3. Are we playing any music today?
4. Why are we listening to this anyway? Just explain it to me.
5. He didn’t have time to practice this week, he had so much homework from the more important subjects.
6. What’s the point of this, it’s not as if I’m ever going to be a musician.
7. I forgot to bring my violin, so I’m doing some homework instead.
8. She’s been taking lessons with you for around a year now, but she doesn’t seem to have learnt anything that I can see.
9. It must be an easy life just sitting and listening to kids play music all day. It’s not like you have to organise a scientific experiment.
10. I know it’s the final rehearsal tomorrow night, but there really is nobody else who can take care of my neighbour’s cats.