My Music Teaching Manifesto

I’m a big fan of happiness guru Gretchen Rubin who encourages people to write a manifesto for activities they are regularly involved in. This week I finally sat down to write my own music teaching manifesto. Ten basic goals that I try to achieve in every lesson and class. I know that I sometimes fall short of these, but hopefully having them in writing will keep me focused on what matters most to me will and help my students to understand what I hope they can expect from me. Each of these is simply a headline-style reminder. I’m sure I could write several paragraphs about each of the topics and may well do so in future posts.

1. Do all I can to inspire an enduring love of music-making.

2. Provide a welcoming environment conducive to learning. Including a safe place to make mistakes.

3. Teach students practice concepts so they can make progress without me.

4. Give clear instructions, honest feedback, and documentation of progress.

5. Encourage independent thinking. Students should develop their own musical personalities.

6. Help students to build a repertoire of pieces for performance.

7. Build confidence by finding students opportunities to perform or play with others.

8. Understand each student’s motivation, goals, and style of learning.

9. Keep it challenging but light. Students want to have fun as well as learn.

10. Continually reevaluate old approaches and look for new ones. I have to keep learning, too.

Do you have a manifesto related to teaching or presenting music? If so please share it in the comments!

Photoby Marc Mennigmann HANDS Project

Christopher Nolan on Silencing Your Phone

Taken from Adam Grant’s interview with Christopher Nolan for Esquire magazine, this is the single best reasoning I’ve ever seen for turning off your phone in creative situations:

Nolan: “There’s a mass belief that if you’re texting, you’re somehow not interrupting the conversation – you’re not being rude.

The person doing it doesn’t realize they have taken the energy from the conversation. If you have people in a creative environment where they have to concentrate on what they’re doing, you can’t have them wandering off in their minds. You can’t be texting somebody else and paying attention to what’s going on. If you call people on it, they’ll repeat the last thing you said. They repeat the words with zero understanding of what they meant. And then over the next minute, you see them start to understand the words for the first time. You can absorb audio information just at the level that you can repeat it back, without understanding.

It’s an illusion of multitasking. I started film-making when people didn’t expect to have a phone on set, when it would’ve been seen as unprofessional to pull out a phone. Phones have become a huge distraction, and people work much better without them. At first it causes difficulty, but it really allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing. Everybody understands. I’ve had a lot of crews thank me. With a set, we’re trying to create a bubble of alternate reality.

Feedback from Spring 2016-2017 Classes

Responses from MUS1660 Guitar for Music Therapy

• Professor Horne is one of the best professors I have had in the School of Music. He is extremely approachable, knowledgeable and passionate about his work. He has helped me to have a firm foundation of guitar skills as a future therapist, and a great basis of repertoire and stylistic choices, as well. I would highly recommend his class to anyone, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study with him.

• Guitar class is great- I love that Mr. Horne values student input and asks our opinions on what would be most practical skills to work on. I genuinely enjoy coming to this class.
I wish we did more videos. Even weekly would have been nice. More feedback and timely responses would make it even better. Other than that, he is a wonderful professor.

• John Horne is an amazing teacher. Everything we learn is extremely practical and I always know what is expected of me.

• Professor Horne is the perfect teacher for this class. Folk guitar is my favorite class to go to.

• I wish there were courses offered for guitar 3 and 4 for music therapy majors. For the amount that we as student music therapists use guitar in sessions with clients, I think adding more training in guitar could only increase our skill and level of comfort in playing guitar for therapeutic use in the future and could allow us as students to take more time learning more difficult concepts such as bar chords, fingerpicking, and jazz chords.

• I wish there were more semesters to work on guitar skills. I personally use my guitar than I do piano, and with only two semesters I feel as though the two instruments are not fairly equivalent in the use of practicality. To have 6 semesters of piano and only 2 semesters of guitar, the skills should be equal with equal semesters possible.

•Professor Horne is a great, and easy professor to get along with. Very easily likable and is constantly presenting material that is challenging and clearly helping students better themselves as musicians. Professor Horne also uses music theory and alternative ways for students to understand content that we are working on.

Responses from MUS1651 Guitar for Non-Music Majors

• Helped me get over my singing stage fright. I highly recommend this class to all levels of experience in guitar. John Horne knows what he is doing when it comes to music. It was kind of like being in a band. I had fun and I learned much more than I thought I would, despite having been playing guitar for so long. It sparked my interest in more classical form of guitar, of which I intend to pursue further.

Music Distinguished Teaching Award Nominations

Nomination #1

Time known: 1-2 semesters

Association with Faculty Nominee: Class Guitar I and II

Teaching Ability: Professor Horne knows exactly what he is talking about in class. He also serves the music therapy students in his class. He teaches us specifically what we will need in our career.

Service & Dedication to the Profession: Professor Horne not only teaches classes, but also teaches private lessons outside of school. He cares about his students and making sure we get what we need to be successful.

Service & Dedication to the Ohio University School of Music, its students, faculty, and alumni: Professor Horne continually works with AMTAS to teach restringing guitar and teaching us about how to keep our guitar in good condition.

Additional Commentary: Professor Horne’s class is my favorite part of the day. He is warm and kind to the students and we always have a nice time. We all feel like we are prepared when going to practicum and playing the guitar for clients. Many students believe that Professor Horne deserves this award.

Nomination #2

Time known: 1-2 semesters

Association with Faculty Nominee: Class Guitar I and II

Teaching Ability: I have learned functional guitar skills very quickly because of how Professor Horne teaches his class. He knows what music therapy students need to know and focuses on those aspects in order for us to learn how to accompany ourselves in sessions.

Service & Dedication to the Profession: Professor Horne is someone that will answer any question I have about guitar as soon as he is able to and is someone all the students
can rely on. He shows that he cares about us improving and gives helpful feedback whenever we need it.

Service & Dedication to the Ohio University School of Music, its students, faculty, and alumni: Professor Horne has been a great teacher to the music therapy students and to individual students taking private lessons with him. He also allows non-therapy majors to be involved in the class although they are not required to take it and welcomes them as if they are a part of the group.