If you have ever applied for a university teaching job, you may have had to write a music teaching philosophy statement. When you are writing a statement for a specific position, you want to take into account the institution you are applying for and try to tailor your philosophy to the mission of the school while strongly stating your personal beliefs about the art of teaching. But if you have a private teaching studio it is just as important to write a statement about your philosophy of teaching and learning.
A Teaching Philosophy is an opportunity to truly and personally state what you believe are the most important aspects of teaching, learning, building trust and relationships and more.
A teaching philosophy is not a place to list your accomplishments. Save that for your resume. This statement is a way to connect on a personal level to your students (current and potential) by stating who you are as a teacher (your beliefs and ideals), how you do what you do, and how that positively impacts the study of music.
You might have not thought about what your philosophy truly is. You probably realize that you do have a philosophy of some sort but you’ve never actually had to put it into words. So the first thing you need to do is ask yourself some questions:
- What do you believe about teaching?
- What do you believe about learning? Why?
- How is that played out in your studio?
- How does student identity and background make a difference in how you teach?
- What do you still struggle with in terms of teaching and student learning?
If you are having a hard time answering these questions, maybe because you haven’t been teaching very long, think on a teacher who made an impact on you (positive or negative), your education, your life. How did they communicate? Did they have passion for their work and if so, how did they express that passion? What were their methods of imparting the information?
So you can get a little insight, below is my Teaching Philosophy.
Any student of voice has the ability to succeed – either on a personal level, a professional level or both. It is my job as their teacher to set the expectations very high; higher than the student may think they can achieve at first. Whether or not the student actually achieves the expectation at face value is not the point. The journey to reach those heights is how the student truly discovers their voice, their art and themselves. I provide the student with every bit of information that I can to guide them through their journey. But ultimately, the job of all teachers is to take the student to the point where they don’t need us anymore.
Music, in general and singing in particular, is very personal. Students who learn to sing tend to become very vulnerable during the process. After learning the basic technique, they must look inside themselves to find their expression and create their art. I believe in creating a safe and enthusiastic environment for my students to explore that part of themselves. Enabling a student to access that inner expression allows them to grow not only as a singer but also as an artist.
I am not suggesting this is the format you need follow but it may give you a start. I don’t go into specific teaching methods although that is something you can include. What I find interesting is that this is still my philosophy even though I wrote it over ten years ago.
There are several resources out there that can guide you through the process of creating your own teaching philosophy. One great resource is from the University of Minnesota website. You can also simply do a google search for other websites that can give you ideas. But I strongly encourage that you start drafting yours or revising yours if you already have one. Once you have it, share it with your students. Put it on your websites. And then review it every year and see if it needs tweaking.
Regardless, the process of creating a teaching philosophy is going to make you think about who you really are as a music teacher and may even help you evolve to the next level. Try it out!