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3 Teaching Techniques for Better Music Lessons

Updated: Jun 25


Music education for children is not just about teaching notes and rhythms—it's about sparking curiosity, fostering creativity, and making learning an enjoyable experience.

Effective teaching techniques play a pivotal role in engaging young learners and ensuring that music lessons are not only educational but also enjoyable. In this article, we will explore three interactive teaching strategies specifically designed to captivate children's interest and enhance their musical understanding.


1. Visual Aids: Simplified Fingering Charts

Visual aids play a crucial role in teaching music to children, especially those who are just beginning their musical journey. One effective visual tool is a simplified fingering chart, designed to make learning instruments like the piano or flute more accessible and fun. Use a chart where each key or finger position is clearly illustrated and labeled. To make it interactive, children can colour in the key/s needed to play specific notes. This not only reinforces their understanding of finger placement but also appeals to their visual learning preferences. By incorporating easy-to-read visuals and interactive elements, such as colouring or matching activities, young learners can grasp musical concepts more effectively and with enthusiasm.

For example, in my flute lessons, I provide students with simple fingering charts from their method book. We then engage in a fun activity called “Forget-Me-Not Fingerings” where students colour in the keys required to play specific notes, alongside the corresponding staff notation.

flute fingering game

Or on the piano, a teacher might introduce a fingering chart where each key is represented by a different colour. Children can then use matching stickers or markers to colour on paper the keys required to play a simple melody. This visual representation not only aids in memorization but also makes learning the instrument more approachable and enjoyable.


2. Storytelling: Enhancing Learning Through Imagination

Children have a natural affinity for storytelling, making it a powerful technique in music education. By weaving narratives around musical pieces or concepts, teachers can capture children's imaginations while delivering important learning objectives. For example, a teacher might create a story about a musical adventure where characters represent different musical notes or rhythmic motifs. Through imaginative storytelling, children not only absorb musical knowledge but also enhance their imaginative and cognitive abilities.

a magical forest

For instance, a teacher might introduce a story about a magical forest where each tree represents a musical note. As the story unfolds, children can participate by creating sounds and melodies that bring the forest to life.

In instrumental lessons, encourage students to consider the narrative behind the music they are playing. Playing music is akin to storytelling, where even a piece titled “Minuet” can come alive with the imagination of a child!

When encountering dynamic contrasts or changes in tempo, prompt students to adjust their playing to reflect the evolving emotions of the music. Some instrumental compositions feature helpful descriptive titles, conveying specific moods or scenes. For instance, Fournier’s “The Cheerful Flutist” evokes a joyful atmosphere, while Penman’s “Life of a Silk Worm” incorporates musical elements that depict the life stages of a caterpillar munching on leaves or weaving its cocoon in a dreamy “swoon”.

This method of integrating storytelling into music teaching enhances cognitive abilities, sparks creativity, and deepens the relationship between storytelling and musical expression.


3. Play-Based Learning: Turning Lessons into Games

One of the most effective ways to engage children in music lessons is by incorporating play-based learning. By turning lessons into interactive games, teachers can transform the learning experience into an exciting and enjoyable journey, not only reinforcing musical concepts and skills but also fostering a positive and engaging atmosphere.

For instance, a musical treasure hunt can be organized where children search for hidden musical notes while following rhythmic clues. Additional game ideas include rhythm challenges, music bingo, “Busted!” for rhythm playing, note naming games, and music card games designed to reinforce concepts like dynamics, note values, and key signatures. 

dynamic dynamo music card game

Play-based learning transforms music lessons into dynamic and interactive experiences that resonate with children's natural inclination for fun and exploration.

Final Thoughts

As music teachers, we can make a positive impact on children's lives through engaging and effective teaching techniques. By incorporating these three teaching techniques -visual aids, storytelling, and play-based learning - into our music lessons, we can nurture young musicians to become skilled and passionate about music. Let's continue to explore ways to ignite curiosity and foster creativity, and together, we can make music education a joyful and enriching experience for every child.

Karen North is a music teacher, mentor and book author. She is passionate about bringing music into the lives of children and adults and has enjoyed working in music education for the past 40 years.

Karen is the author of the popular method books "The Young Flute Player" and has commissioned many new works for intermediate flute repertoire in "Lyrical Flute Legends" , "Lyrical Flute Encores" and "Inspiring Flute Solos."  as well as a new collection for beginner flutists, "Lyrical Flute Miniatures".

Karen has written two books of music games (with printable templates) "Fun & Games for Music Lessons", "More Fun & Games for Music Lessons 2" and has recently worked with specialist consultants on repertoire books for Violin, Clarinet and Saxophone.

Karen also organizes an international FLUTE CHAMPIONSHIP each year, to give students of all ages and abilities an opportunity to submit a video performance to an outstanding panel of judges. Her workshops for teachers are enthusiastically received and she also offers one-to-one coaching sessions.


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