Online Journal

UK Edition
Paul Harris and Richard Crozier
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, September 2000
ISBN: 186096 219 X

As teachers, we have to face the fact that we can no longer closet ourselves from the need for professional development. It is one thing taking a teacher's diploma, but the need to grow professionally makes it imperative that we continually appraise our abilities and, as our pupils progress, develop accordingly. This month's MusicTeachers Online Journal interviews Richard Crozier, Head of Professional Development at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and co-author of The Music Teacher's Companion, on this very subject.

In a shrewd appraisal of the way teachers and pupils work, Crozier and Harris question effective teaching practices, about which there are bound to be certain nagging doubts amongst even the most successful of us. They make clear from the outset that the process is symbiotic and that the learning curve should not be restricted to the pupil alone. Thus chapters deal with a number of relevant teacher-related issues: how we should approach a pupil's individual qualities and tailor our teaching to those needs; how to evolve a curriculum based on the child's requirements rather than on ours; how lessons should be structured and, importantly, how to develop strategies that ensure the child's progression in every aspect of music education. Although these are issues we all question from time to time, there is an important underlying message that begs us to consider them as central to every lesson we teach, rather than just applying them to those pupils who need some sort of extra input either because they are floundering or because their abilities are special in some way or other. Thus obvious areas such as the teaching of scales, aural, practice and examinations are combined with aspects that are often overlooked by even the most conscientious of us, such as preparation for performance, teaching composition and improvisation and, importantly, the monitoring of the quality of our teaching and our pupils' achievements. Issues arising from these areas are deftly handled in a user-friendly manner and each is clearly cross-referenced to provide a useful armoury of approaches that should form the backbone of most teachers' work.

The Music Teacher's Companion is not only a valuable resource for instrumental and singing tutors, but would also provide much food for thought for schoolteachers...

Ask any classroom teacher about the drawbacks of the current trends in governmental education policy and the answer most likely heard will concern the amount of paperwork that has to be completed for each child. Although to some this might, at times, seem somewhat excessive, it must be clear that, whilst being a complex and time-consuming process, it provides an excellent overview of a pupil's progress and allows the thinking teacher to develop more pragmatic strategies for future work. However, although there are sections that deal with developing approaches to learning, little is said of reporting in terms of the National Curriculum and how teachers can positively participate in informing schools of standards of attainment in performance or musical knowledge. Instruction in this would have been a positive benefit, since this is rapidly becoming an area that private teachers cannot ignore.

That said, The Music Teacher's Companion is not only a valuable resource for instrumental and singing tutors, but would also provide much food for thought for schoolteachers, since it raises many issues that are now as relevant to the classroom as to the practice room. It is the work of experienced and eloquent teachers and cannot be recommended highly enough.

Joan Gregory  

Alison Ruddock's excellent A Rough and Ready Guide to Teaching the Piano is a free download available from our Resources section. Click here to access this and other valuable resources.

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