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New Year's Resolutions For Music Educators In 2018

Change is hard. That’s why we naturally gravitate to making change at the time of a clear starting line. There’s no bigger starting line than New Year’s.  It’s a bright marker when we can commit to shedding some bad habits and replace them with some more inspirational or positive ones.

Before the kids return to school, here are some New Year’s resolutions you can get started on with the new semester. This is our list of suggestions. You don’t need to adopt them all. We can only tackle so many new things at a time anyway. So, pick your favorites and commit yourself to those.  There’s always next year for some of the others… 

  • Bring more fun into your classroom. Energize and excite students throughout the entire semester by making lessons, rehearsals and hectic competition schedules more fun. You can copy the Chicago Cubs, who’ve made theme-dressing on road trips a staple of keeping the atmosphere light and fun. Or take some time each week to have an open musical improv and see what the students come up with! 
  • Reignite your own emotional connection to music. Take some dance classes to start experiencing music in a different way than you are used to. Attend a live concert – somewhere – every week. Listen to some recorded performances every day. Not as part of your teaching, but just for pure pleasure. 
  • Related to making an emotional reconnection – expand your repertoire and your students repertoire as well. Dig into some lesser known works by composers you love. Start listening to composers you’ve never taught before to find a work or two from them you can bring into the classroom. Check out some contemporary composers whose work may be accessible to the students. 
  • Invest in advancing your own musical skills. We know you’re focused on expanding your teaching skills (thanks for reading!), but don’t overlook your own music. When was the last time you took private lessons? Attend a masterclass. Participate in a local orchestra or chamber quartet in your area. Don’t have a local chamber quartet – start one! Every step you take to enhance your own musical skills and knowledge is a step you can help your students take. 
  • Re-assess your professional goals. Are you coasting, but feel like you could do more? Have you let past professional goals fall by the wayside?  Take a deep look into where you want your professional life to go over the next five years. Perhaps you want to add giving private lessons or start a private music summer camp. Maybe you want to get on track to become a music director or head of the music department. Clarify your professional goals and write them down. 
  • Have you brought technology into your classroom yet? It may be time to check it out. Your students live in technology. It only makes sense to find ways where practice, learning or composition technology can mix things up for your students. If you’re not sure where to start, the Glauser School of Music at Kent State has put together an overview of “5 Ways to Use Technology for Music Education.” If the technology you want to bring in is too expensive, check out org, where you can post your music class project and explain the equipment/technology you need to make it happen. Anyone who likes your project can donate money to help you buy what you need. 
  • Make an effort to grow your professional musical network. You’ll be great resources for each other when you need some immediate classroom inspiration. You might find some new classroom special guests that can expand your students’ understanding of music and the music world. Plus you might find a few more teachers willing to be part of your new quartet! 

You’ve no doubt noticed that not all of these resolutions directly impact what you’re doing in the classroom. Yet they all directly impact who you are, and how excited you are about what you’re doing, which you’ll inevitably bring into the classroom with you. 

Have a wonderful, musical new year!

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