By Valerie Lee
Music Teacher in Palo Alto, California
Valerie studied Music Education at the University of Illinois. Since age 5, Valerie has devoted her time towards music from participating in school orchestras to extending her interest in music by playing in community orchestras. She fell in love with teaching through her summer internship teaching at-risk students in low-income communities through a program called The Big Lift which allowed her to discover true calling to be a music teacher.
What does playing an instrument do to support the learning process in Middle School?
Playing an instrument is a fantastic way to develop self-responsibility and accountability, which are key skills students develop throughout middle school. Students that see the direct results of their progress tend to establish good habits like scheduling time to practice and working towards individual goals. The results seen in progress is extremely rewarding. These positive habits developed through playing an instrument directly benefit students in their other subjects.
What can parents do to support MS students to continue play, especially when they cannot have in person for rehearsals?
Parents can support their MS students to continue to play their instrument throughout distance learning by helping students continue to discover their passion for playing their instrument even in a non-group setting. Giving students opportunities to perform at home, setting up a space where students can focus on practicing, or working with students to establish short- and long-term goals for progressing on their instrument are fantastic ways for parents to stay involved in their student’s music education.
What has been your worst mistake as a musician, and what did you learn about it?
Time management was a skill I developed in late middle and high school. There were many instances even in high school where I did not divide my time wisely and spent more time than needed on tasks I viewed as more urgent. At the time, I did not know how helpful it was for me to make to-do lists. Through trial and error, I discovered how much more productive I could be if I utilized to-do lists and scheduled out my day. At times, I did not schedule time to relax so I felt exhausted. There were also instances where I did not schedule time to practice, so I struggled because I could have benefited from more practicing. I hope that everyone learns the importance of creating time to time to work, relax, and live a balanced lifestyle of their choice!