An artistic image of a piano

The Loneliness of the Successful Music Teacher

Have you ever felt professional isolation as a music teacher?

Instrumental teachers are peripatetic by nature, often travelling alone and working from school to school.

The successful classroom music teacher is now more commonly found in a one-person department.

The challenges within the KS3 curriculum and the plethora of school targets can seem overwhelming….but can technology help?

Adam Hickman, Lead on School Engagement and Partnerships at Services For Education discusses the challenges many music teachers face in isolation – and how they can overcome it.

Music is about collaboration.

Music has always been a very social activity and at the earliest opportunity young instrumentalists are encouraged to join bands and to make music with their peers.

Collaboration is always at the centre of music making.

During these musical collaborations children learn to share ideas, make musical decisions and learn lots of important lessons about team-work and discipline.

However, when entering the music teaching profession, collaboration between music teachers becomes far more challenging.

Loneliness in the music profession.

The two main routes open to music graduates in the music teaching profession are: to work as secondary school music teacher, or as an instrumental music teacher.

Within Birmingham secondary schools very often the music teacher will be the only music teacher working in a single person department and if there happens to be a second teacher, it is likely they will also be teaching additional subjects.

Equally, as an instrumental music teacher you may have lots of music teacher colleagues within a music service or music education hub.

However, daily contact with colleagues can be very difficult due to the nature of the role.

From my own experience as an instrumental music teacher, the lack of a physical staff room can make it hard to celebrate the successes of the day and to share with colleagues the more challenging moments.

It is often during these informal chats that ideas of best practice and resources are shared and also words of encouragement from a fellow supportive colleague can have a real impact on a new teacher.

I am continually trying to find ways to support colleagues, to counteract professional isolation and to provide both classroom and instrumental teachers with subject-specific CPD.

Part of my project.

As part of this commitment I have launched a unique online video resource to support new and existing music teachers.

ReelMusic is the first digital resource of its kind created specifically for music hubs, schools and universities.

It is not simply a resource bank but a tool to develop professional conversation and dialogue between colleagues and to encourage deep thinking about teaching and learning in music.

We all need to learn to support, share and collaborate with each other more as music professionals – and beat the loneliness that is so common in our industry.