8 Tips to Make Your Lessons More Effective

January 2, 2013

You can’t just go charging into a new concept.  Children (and also adults) need to have things broken for them into manageable pieces that they can digest one-by-one.

Think about how you learned math. You started with addition and subtraction.  You may have even used a number line.  Then you learned your multiplication tables and division came along with that. Then you were introduced to the concept of variables ( remember “x + 1 = 3” ? ).  If the math teacher would have started you off in first grade with quadratic equations you would have had a much harder time in math right?

Music theory works the same way.   If you take it slow and follow these suggestions, your students will be happier and more successful.  Your stress level will go down too, and who couldn’t use less stress?

  1. Always introduce one concept at a time. It is much easier for children to remember and master one new idea than two. It is very important for them to be totally comfortable with one new idea before moving on to the next.
  2. Let your child explain or describe the subject to you. Kids have unique ways of seeing things. If you can listen to your child’s descriptions, you will be able to better understand her perspective and understanding of the subject. This will give you clues on how to proceed. Does she understand? Is she ready to go on? Or is further review needed?
  3. Be consistent with your choice of words. If your child has a unique way of describing a subject, be consistent with his description. For example, if he calls a quarter note an “Oreo cookie with a stem”, that is OK as long as he understands that an “Oreo cookie with a stem” has only one count and he is able to pick out the quarter note when you ask him to. The correct term can be introduced later when he is more comfortable with the basic concepts.
  4. Talk about new concepts with your child regularly. You may talk about the new concepts with your child while you are driving or shopping. The more she thinks about it, the better she will retain the information.
  5. Associate new ideas to things that your child already knows. If he can relate a new idea to some experience that he has already had, it makes it easier to understand and remember the concept.
  6. Display your child’s accomplishments. You may want to display notes that your child has drawn, or any related art projects on the refrigerator, or somewhere equally accessible. Refer to them often to remind your child how much she is learning.
  7. Play games. You may make up all kinds of games with the game cards. They are designed for “I Spy”, “Go Fish”, matching and more. Make up your own games and be creative. Children learn best when they are having fun.
  8. Take your time and have fun. All children learn and progress differently. This series is self-paced. In other words, there is no time table for when the child should finish the book. Some may finish it in a month and others may take 6 months or more. The bottom line is that they should have fun while learning these musical concepts and have mastered them by the end.


  • Leia | February 13, 2013 | Reply

    These are great tips! I love your website & blog. Is there any way for me to subscribe to you so I can see when you post new articles and worksheets?

  • LaughlinJames | February 14, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Lela! If you'll create an account and give us your email address we'll include you on the notification list. Thanks, James

  • Dana | February 15, 2013 | Reply

    Awesome website and resources. Thanks for posting these tips. It is so easy to fall into the trap of trying to teach too much too soon.

      • esmar | February 18, 2013 | Reply

        Thanks, Dana!!

  • Juttaohligs@yahoo.de | February 1, 2014 | Reply

    Great website! Math worksheets - never seen before! I like that! Thanks from germany! Jutta

      • James Laughlin | February 10, 2014 | Reply

        Thanks Jutta. We're glad you like them!

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