A Year of Teaching- Experiences of a Shine On Teacher

Last year I had the pleasure of teaching weekly violin lessons to 7 different students at Queen Alexandra Elementary school. I signed up as a violin teacher through Shine On Music, wanting the opportunity to work with kids and music. With the school year quickly approaching and lessons starting up again soon, I thought I’d give a quick overview of what it’s like to be a teacher with Shine On music.

The first lesson is focused on fitting each student with the appropriate sized violin, then I like to go over the “anatomy” of the violin and the bow with the students. It’s always fun to have a student guess what they think a part of the instrument is called. Some parts are pretty intuitive (the tip of the bow!), while others are not (“Why is this part called the frog?”).

It gets fun when students become comfortable with holding the violin correctly, and playing basic melodies. When I felt my students were bored with classic songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” I asked them what they wanted to play. By student request, I ended up writing out some awesome variations on: The “Clash of Clans” battle theme, Star Wars, and “How Far I’ll go” from Moana (I also got a request for “Closer” by the Chainsmokers, but that one I vetoed). Students are so much more enthusiastic about learning songs that they picked out, and they pick up these songs much more easily because they already know how the melody should sound!

Aside from playing the violin, I had fun just getting to know my students throughout the year. In response to me asking how old everyone thought I was, one of my students replied “Like…..really old!” Other hilarious questions I’ve gotten are “Are you married or are you single?” and “How many children do you have?” By the end of the school year it was so rewarding to see how far my students had come, and I’m excited to see quite a few of them again when lessons resume this fall!

Studies have suggested that there are many cognitive and developmental benefits of children taking music lessons, but I underestimated the benefits that I would reap by teaching myself; as a 4th year university student, no matter how hectic my school life gets I’ve made a commitment to pick up my violin at least once a week when I have lessons with my students, and in turn it’s made me a better musician. I know I can always count on my weekly visits to Queen Alexandra Elementary to put a smile on my face.

If you are an incoming UBC student this year, consider joining a teaching program like Shine On. Those who have life long interest of becoming a music teacher or a teacher in general, can greatly benefit from working with kids through our program. I started the year wanting to teach children the enjoyments of music, however it was surprising how much I learned from them as well.

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