Why We Teach Music

Passion, enthusiasm and a lot of patience. These are qualities that I have seen in all of the most successful music teachers I have met over the years. Yet, asking a music teacher where this drive to teach comes from reveals an array of different answers. Indeed, it often provides one of the most interesting insights into their lives as music teachers. So why do music teachers teach music?

I spoke with three music teachers to find out what motivated them.

A Passion For Others to Fall in Love With Music

Music teachers are incredibly passionate about the music they enjoy. Helping others to feel as connected to music as they do is a core motivation. As Roda Odari, a piano teacher in Derby explained, 'you want your students to fall in love with music'. Indeed, one student who attended Piano Lessons Derby, the piano school Roda runs, noted that “I used to hate playing the piano yet (Roda) has helped me to enjoy and understand it.” For many teachers this is the definition of what motivates them, they want students to feel as passionate about music as they do.

An Inspirational Teacher

The teacher-student relationship is often cited by music teachers in their decision to enter into teaching. Dan Hall, a professional guitar teacher who runs Guitar Lessons Manchester, explained to me that he really struggled to learn guitar when he was a teenager. This changed when he took lessons with a local guitar teacher, Nat Yelverton. Nat had the skills needed to help inspire Dan, helping him believe he could achieve his goals on the guitar. As Dan noted, “when I didn't understand something, he'd explain it in a different way”. This made such an impact on Dan, that he too wanted to teach and help students the same way Nat had helped him to succeed on the guitar.

A Feeling Like No Other

For James Fergus, an experienced vocal coach who runs Singing Lessons Norwich, it is the deeply rewarding feeling he gets as his students progress. Occasionally, it can be boiled down to a specific moment, when a student “gets it”. A euphoric breakthrough moment in a student’s musical journey, as they grasp a new music concept or technical ability. More often it is a longer-term enjoyment of seeing a student succeed over time. As James reflects, seeing how his pupils have started lessons with “no initial music ability and they have grown into musicians”.

Summary

While the adage goes “those who can, teach” I am yet to meet a music teacher who teaches simply “because they can”. Instead, what I have found is that music teachers are deeply connected to the music they have enjoyed learning/playing themselves. It might not be the same music they teach to students now, but they want their students to feel that emotional connection to music too.

The pride music teachers feel seeing their students develop is, as one teacher explained, “a feeling like no other”. In my experience, what motivates great music teachers boils down to two connections; the connection between a music teacher and the music, and the connection between a teacher and their student.

Matthew Rusk Founder of MGR Music