Award-winning music educator Merlin B. Thompson invites today’s teachers to link their teaching with notions of humanity and create success by building on what students naturally bring to their own musical journey.
Filled with over fifty practical and inspirational teaching tips, More than Music Lessons is a must-read for every genre of music studio teacher: vocal/instrumental, academic, traditional, individual/group, Suzuki, exam-based, and online. A four-part framework gets right to the heart of the matter:
Grounded in research yet enriched with real-life experiences and frequently asked questions, More than Music Lessons offers a comprehensive view of student-centered teaching, where teachers share rather than direct students’ musical explorations. This book provides resources for teachers who work with diverse student demographics and sheds light on how teachers may thoughtfully incorporate students’ sense of self, personal and world views, culture, individuality, and spirituality as anchors for their unfolding and unique musical journeys. More than Music Lessons will help studio teachers support and inspire their students for a lifetime of genuine and joyful music making.
Merlin B. Thompson is an award-winning music educator, scholar, and pianist with over forty years teaching experience in private studio, music conservatory, and university settings. He has worked with hundreds of music teachers, students, and parents throughout Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, Spain, Great Britain, Brazil, and New Zealand. He is creator of the podcast series The Music Educator’s Crucible.
Introduction - Build On and Exercise
Chapter 1. Sharing the Journey
Teaching for Inclusion and Diversity
Part One – Parents
Chapter 2. Parents Make A Difference
Family Home Life
Music & Family Home Life
Teachers & Family Home Life
Independence & Ownership
Chapter 3. In the Lesson
Step In, Step Back, Let Go
Diverse Family Needs
Taking Homework Notes
Chapter 4. Meaningful Conversations
Parents & Questions
Parents’ Most Practical Resource
Teachers Letting Go
Part Two – Practicing
Chapter 5. Framework of Basic Human Needs
Chapter 6. Practicing & Autonomy
Assumptions About Autonomy
Language & Gestures
What About Mistakes?
Teacher’s Belief in Autonomy
Chapter 7. Practicing & Fluency
The Activity Itself
Creativity & Challenges
Review & Refinemen
Immediate & Evolving
Chapter 8. Practicing & Purpose
Musicianship & Artistry
Caring for Music
Vision of Life
Real Life Stories
Chapter 9. Practicing & Relatedness
Teachers & Students
Unconditional Personal Connections
The Power of Smiling
Sense of Humor
Chapter 10. Practicing & Reflection
Student Report Cards
Parent Check Ins
Teen Student Reviews
Chapter 11. Practicing & Listening
Listening 001 - Internalize
Listening 002 - Inspire
Listening 003 - Share
Part Three – Projects
Chapter 12. Non-performance Music Projects
Chapter 13. Giving Voice to Students
Students’ EMC Projects
Junior High Threshold
Amplifying Students’ Musical Persona
Part Four - Character
Chapter 14. Imprinted from Birth
My Gallery of Student Portraits
Connecting with Life Skills
Chapter 15. Character & Music Lessons
Talking About Soul
More Than Music
Finale. Our Shared Humanity
Appendix A: ChallengesAppendix B: Parent Letter & Teenager Letter
Appendix C: Everyday Music Connections Projects
Appendix D: Character Cards
Merlin B. Thompson's latest well-researched work is a highly readable exploration of how studio teachers can successfully support student musical development. In More Than Music Lessons, Thompson aims to share "what can happen when music teachers take an interest in and have an ongoing appreciation for students' home life, their sense of self, their musical interests, their personal views and their world views, their culture" and "spiritual individuality".
If you love to sit down with other music teachers to pick their brains about teaching philosophies and ideas that have worked with their students, then you will love Merlin B. Thompsonʼs new book, More Than Music Lessons. Clearly a caring and innovative teacher, Dr. Thompson practices what he preaches and generously shares his ideas and resources with readers. Any music teacher will find More Than Music Lessons a thought-provoking and practical addition to their studio library!
More Than Music Lessons will not be gathering dust on my bookshelf, because this is a slim volume to which I will be returning again and again, offering up a multi-course feast of food for thought.This is an important and superb book, which I can highly recommend to all who teach an instrument. Take time to read it more than once…
This book is a refreshing perspective for any instrumental or voice teacher, straight from the heart of a highly experienced and particularly perceptive music educator. Merlin B Thompson considers nuances in the music teaching and learning journey from new and unusual angles, yet demonstrates just how fundamental these are.
Merlin Thompson offers practical, accessible, and research-based strategies for making practice time constructive and enjoyable. Thompson also looks beyond the practice room to consider ways in which music-making can be meaningful to students as they reach out to their respective communities and reach in to better understand themselves.
More than Music Lessons is an insightful, nuanced resource for music educators. The simplicity and elegance of Thompson's writing highlights core principles of quality music teaching.
More than Music Lessons is the kind of book I wish I could have referenced when I first started teaching. Merlin B. Thompson’s sensitive demeanor and strong research holds valuable insights for the reader.
This book is multi-layered and needs to be absorbed in small doses. Reading a small section, pondering the ideas expressed, choosing one idea to pursue and integrate intentionally, engaging with other teachers in conversation, returning to the book and repeating each step is sure to fire some creative circuits in the brain and to re-energize the teaching/learning process. I highly recommend this book, as any teacher – regardless of age or experience – will benefit from its thoughtful , insightful approach.
Pianodao Blog: Review of "More than Music Lessons: A Studio Teacher's Guide to Parents, Practicing, Projects, and Character"