Jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon is dedicated to teaching young musicians when he isn’t performing. He works to continually evolve his techniques but relies on a few tried-and-true philosophies, including:
Remain open to new ways of teaching a concept, which to Gordon means “learning while you teach.”
Utilize singing and dancing to help students grasp difficult rhythms, melodies and harmonies. “Have the students sing together before playing,” Wycliffe suggests. “This way, they’re on the same level of comfort.”
Teach the administration – along with other teachers – the importance of supporting a program. One surefire way to improve your relationship with administrators is to invite them to performances, Gordon says.
Some children will inevitably fail to grasp the importance of working together. “If I can’t get a student to cooperate, then [he or she] is out of the ensemble,” Wycliffe says, “regardless of his or her musical ability.” When this happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. At a certain point, you must accept that you’ve done all you can do.
This article was originally published on the Yamaha Educator Suite blog.