April 2


Lesson Planning for Music Teachers

Lesson planning for music teachers is an interesting subject. Much of our one on one instruction or even MtnSOS classes our teachers are relying on years of experience to advise students from one step to the next.

Few music teachers actually need or use a formal lesson plan since they have the plans memorized after years of teaching and practicing music.

However, sometimes it can be helpful to think of your lessons or classes in a more structured way especially when teaching younger children.

Here are three helpful tips on how to structure your classes that don’t take a lot of preparation time. Try them out and give us some feedback about if some of these ideas worked for you or how you put your own special spin on these ideas. These can be planned in advance or just kept in mind as you go through the class.  

1. Divide your lesson or class into 3 or more segments. Usually, I like 3 segments for a half hour lesson, but maybe 6 segments for an hour class. Here is an example of a 3 segments private lesson with 10 mins each session:

A: Warm up with scales, improvisation, movement or duet playing. Familia and fun is key here to get everyone in the mood for the lesson. Younger students can read aloud a musical story like Zin Zin Zin a Violin or The Incredible Farkle McBride. You can sneak some skills in this segment, but it’s better if it’s really a warm up.

B: What you want to teach that day. Here is a great spot to put the meat of your lesson because the student is warmed up, but not tired yet. This is where you break down skills and the music. Maybe you look or listen to the music first or only do one section of the piece. Breaking down can also be playing rhythm instruments or moving to a new rhythm they will find in the music or singing the tune.

C: Theory segment with games, writing, improvisation or movement. Keep this last part fun and familiar again. Listening games, rhythm instruments or singing. Maybe a circle dance to go with their new fiddle tune or freeze dance. Sometimes a nice practice concert here with lots of praise so you can end the lesson on a high note!

D: For an hour class you can use these segments and maybe add ensemble playing, working in small groups, performing for each other and movement.

2. Perform for your students. Remember younger students often don’t have the opportunity to hear live music performances. You might be the only professional they have heard and certainly one of the only musicians they have gotten to see close up. Students need to observe someone using the bow effectively or playing a powerful sound or playing with dynamics. Students also need to experience being in an audience and listening intently.

3. Request Day! Students love to have a choice in what they are learning and playing. Request days can be a regular occurrence or a special treat, but I always find them surprising. Usually, the students will choose all the activities they have been doing in the regular lessons like warm ups, scales, theory, movement, ensemble playing or playing their repertoire. They have so much fun choosing the activity they don’t even realize they have just had a fantastic practice. With young children it’s important to give everyone a turn and you can even have fun ways of choosing each student. For example pull names out of a hat or have a quiz and the right answer gets to choose next. You can even have them play a quick tune to get their turn. As long as they are having fun and playing their pieces or practicing a skill you are accomplishing so much and they have a choice. 


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