Learning Through Teaching

Mary Karen Clardy

Learning through teaching others is an honored tradition. For example, teaching marching fundamentals to younger students is a great way to refine individual skills, practice good form, and foster team spirit for the new marching season. Beginners need simple explanations for new concepts, and the teaching process often builds confidence and develops patience in the teacher.

Try these simple ideas to learn the benefits of teaching others.

Help With Sectionals

Work with students on scales, warmups, or memorization. One-on-one experiences develop confidence in young players by eliminating the group effect that masks individual performance.

Take a Step-by-Step Approach

Keep it simple when explaining a new technique. Encourage several repetitions at a slow pace or tempo to check for accuracy and to help build the students’ confidence in the new experience.

Demonstrate the Music

Play a phrase out loud for the other students. Use your best tone, rhythm, and style as a reference for individual practice following the session. Remember that notes on the page come to life in performance, and offering a good example is the most natural way to both teach and learn music.

Be Enthusiastic

Energy and enthusiasm are contagious! An enthusiastic teacher encourages learning in every lesson, and students respond to the energy with an open, positive attitude to learning.

Explore Ideas Without Criticism

Fear of failure is the enemy of teaching and learning. A supportive learning environment encourages and builds confidence in both the teacher and students. Collaborate in learning sessions with a “two-way street” approach. Provide opportunities to discuss ideas, encourage questions, and learn mature communication skills.

Teaching others builds a pathway to individual learning by developing patience, discipline, consistency, and energy. Remember the saying, “You are your own best teacher,” and apply these simple ideas to help yourself and others.

About author

Mary Karen Clardy

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, she has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit www.mkclardy.com.