Response to ‘How do we get music teachers the CPD that they want?’

My response to John Kelleher’s

I think Music teachers need to see a wider variety of activities as CPD – not just formally organised events (that often cost a lot of money… how much is the average INSET course per day?). Joining a choir and being rehearsed by excellent practitioners (such as Simon Halsey and the London Symphony Chorus), attending a workshop as part of the SOAS World Music Summer School, going to the vast array of Classical music events to learn about repertoire, programming ideas? Music lessons are brilliant CPD – with the right teacher. Performing in amateur concerts and events? Reading is also valuable continual professional development. British Music Education Journal, Royal Musical Association Journals? Plenty on offer in print to keep our interest not only in Music but in Music education. We shouldn’t feel bad for not getting out too much – it is the pupils that miss out on lessons if we end up being a Music teacher that does CPD more than teaching. The volume of courses on offer is considerable and I can see why it must be difficult to choose. I think we need to embrace the rich musical offering available to us and not be chasing expensive and bespoke training that might have minimal (and short term) impact. We can be inquisitive learners without spending too much money and without missing too many lessons.

I do think perhaps Music teachers are given too little credit. They don’t need to be ‘taught’ how to teach. They need rich, engaging musical experiences that they can translate into their unique educational establishments. The process of adapting and developing resources is what makes teaching such a great profession when you have a deep love of your subject and a need to share that passion with young people. Sell them Music by being a musician, and not a participant in an INSET course where actual music is low on the agenda.

Conversely, I love working with Music teachers on courses – discussing and sharing ideas has always been a regular comment on the feedback from the attendees. One remarked that he ‘knew how his Year 9s felt’ after I made his group of teachers work on a practical task. It reminds us that for many Music is an intimidating subject; many feel not ‘good enough’ at it, and as such as teachers we perhaps might lose some confidence in our musical abilities and we might not want to be made to experience that anxiety: Just how pupils must feel. The more opportunities we grab to experience those musical anxieties the more we can empathise with students and be more persuasive in getting them involved. So great to see a Teachers’ Choir going. I hope more such things appear; teachers’ orchestra, big band, musical theatre group, a capella, opera… Music teachers need to be practitioners that are willing to make mistakes and above all willing to make music.

4 responses to “Response to ‘How do we get music teachers the CPD that they want?’”

  1. A very interesting response.

    Taking your response as it stands and going back to the title of my original post, are you suggesting that music teachers don’t know what CPD they need and that we shouldn’t be focusing on offering ‘what they want’? (If indeed, I’ve correctly identified what they want, it wasn’t exactly a carefully conducted survey or research project). Rather, they should be encouraged to see existing opportunities as CPD.

    In fairness, I would guess that most music teachers do see music making as a CPD activity in itself, hence the second bullet point in my original post. You’re quite right to further this and encourage people to see existing musical opportunities as CPD.

    This bit interested me:
    “I do think perhaps Music teachers are given too little credit. They don’t need to be ‘taught’ how to teach. They need rich, engaging musical experiences that they can translate into their unique educational establishments.”

    I don’t think I was suggesting that music teachers need to be ‘taught how to teach’ (although some do…). In many respects, I was encouraging more musical CPD to be put on offer that happened to be aimed at music teachers.

    • I agree with you entirely – I just ranted before thinking! Is it worth doing a survey on teacher involvement in Music outside of the classroom and for themselves? I’d love to know how many are active musicians. All that time rehearsing and practising = CPD in my mind.

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