Surprising fact - 85% of the kids I teach say "I don't know what kind of music I like!." 38% say they don't listen to music that often. Your job as a music teacher is not just to teach them music but get them listening to it. Not listening is like driving a car without gas. It is the fuel that keeps musicians going. Recommend appropriate music to your students and even give them listening logs that ask them to make specific observations.
1. They Need Inspiration
One of the main things that gets kids excited about music is hearing something they want to be able to do. They hear something that makes them feel a certain way and they want to be able to play it to express that feeling even more. Inspiration gets the wheels turning and gives them more ideas. Inspiration is the sparkle in their eye, It shows their hope as a young musician. BEFORE ANYTHING STUDENTS NEED TO BE INSPIRED. Once you find out what their inspiration is, build that into their goal and incorporate it into your lessons. One of the best things you can do is make a simplified version of a song they want to learn so they can feel a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to keep going.
2. They Need Audiaion
If they don't listen to much music, chances are they are not audiating much. Part of inspiration is someone hearing music in their head. The drive leads you to play your instrument more. Audiation is the best motivation for practice - practicing because you want the notes you keep replaying in your head to be real! to be heard! This is also a key factor to creating music which I highly encourage.
3. They Need Ear Training
In the process of expanding a repertoire, one is able to familiarize themselves with pitches and keys. You may even find with more frequent listening the student could develop perfect pitch. Especially for guitar, for example, you should be able to tell when a song is in dropped D. The more listening you do the more it develops your ear and familiarizes you with the 12 notes.
4. It's Good for their Mental Health
Giving kids safe access to music and a pair of headphones can be a great way to release stress, connect with human emotion or to have a fun dance party! Time with just you and the headphones is a way to get things like school, family problems or peer pressures off the mind for a while. In fact, it is a from of meditation. This study from Harvard further discusses the mental benefits of music.
5. They Can Learn About History & Cultural Oppression
The history of music is very educational on the civil rights. Looking through this music can help teach kids a lot about the protests and movements that took place against racism. Artists like James Brown, Chuck Berry and Ray Charles had an impact by refusing to play segregated concerts. Many artists stood by Martin Luther King and even wrote songs dedicated to him. This can help them learn about cultural and social issues that took place. This music era also teaches about the Vietnam war, women's rights and the entire peace movement. Brian Adams "Dianna" is even about the royal family. Learning about past social issues helps educate them and reflect on todays current events and possibly give inspiration for their own writing one day!
6. They Can Decide What they Like
Recommend a couple different styles until you see them inspired. Try classical, country, pop, rock etc. They may take to one specific style or like it all but through out your time with them recommend at least 5 songs. If they get into one genre they will have better instincts for new songs in that style. Once you learn the foundational chord patterns and tricks for a style, you can learn songs much easier. Guide them to discover what they like though it may take a while. Also, encourage parents to give them safe access to music either that's Spotify, YouTube or even CD's!