From Student to Teacher

Today marked the second day without a student teacher for the first time since Mid-January. Over the past eight weeks, I had the pleasure of working with Nick Samson (from YSU), and in a couple of weeks Krista Schmidt (from GCC) will join me. I enjoy the opportunity to have student teachers come in to the program, and watch them make that final transition, from student to teacher…

I have very basic expectations for student teachers:

  • Be there. If you are that sick I will tell you to go home. Otherwise, we are in it for the long haul, and it is time to wear the sickness down instead of vice versa.
  • Be organized/prepared. Nick and I never went into a rehearsal or lesson the past 8 weeks without a plan. I am not talking a down to the minute synopsis of how general music is going to explore the music of Janis Joplin…not that I think that is a worthwhile endeavor….but we spent time discussing what we needed to accomplish, and where we needed to focus our energies.
  • Be prepared to fail. Look, everybody wants to hit it out of the park on the first at bat. But that doesn’t happen too often. If you fail, get over it. In another 4 minutes a different group of students is coming in the door that don’t care that your Janis Joplin lesson failed – they care about Holst and what you can teach them about him!
  • Understand every experience for what it is, and understand what you can learn from it (the good, the bad, and the Janis…er….the ugly, as it were).
  • Never teach a lesson on Janis Joplin. (Not that Nick did, I just thought that maybe someone would think it was a good idea…)
  • Be professionally passionate. Why did you choose music? Why did you choose to teach music? What excites you in music? Can the students see it? You are a musical role model on many levels. Within the subject that we teach, there are inherent meanings in the music that we unlock with our students. They don’t just think different after it is revealed to them, they feel different. They need to recognize in you that you believe in your profession, and that you are passionate in creating and teaching this art.
  • As Uncle Lou always told me – “Love great music.” So if you are an undergrad, and you haven’t realized MY BAND ROOM IS ON FIRE, take the challenge….(cause actually, last Tuesday, my school was on fire….no joke….).

This is by no means a complete list. But they are some of the things I look for in student teachers, and encourage them to consider as they make the transition. I was very fortunate to have worked with Nick, and I am earnestly looking forward to Krista joining our program in a few weeks. A different set of eyes, a new set of ears, and an outside voice of perspective that a student teacher can provide can be helpful. It is rewarding for me to work with them as I can share my own philosophy and really take stock of what I am doing and how the program is doing. As much as any student teacher learns from this process, I always find myself learning something from them. It is a neat symbiotic (sorry to go all Obi-wan-Episode I on you…) relationship for the student teacher, myself and the ensembles. I keep tabs on all the student teachers I have worked with in my 13 years. It is always exciting for me to catch up with them, and an honor to assist them with a project or provide advice and council.

We are educators. We teach music. We also sometimes must train future educators of music. It is our duty to provide them with an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to succeed, and a mentor and role model that is sincere and passionate about their calling to bring the power of music to enhance the students’ lives.

Print Friendly


  1. Hi Travis,

    I just finished 8 weeks with my first ever student teacher, and I have to echo what you said. From my perspective, it really made me look at what I’m doing with my own program. I think that I probably learned as much from my student teacher as he did from me. It was a great experience for him, me, and our students. I was a little nervous going into it, but I would definitely do it again…it was a really rewarding experience!

  2. Travis,

    Your link to Krista isn’t working.. 🙂


Get Adobe Flash player