By Corey Oiler
Greetings, fellow string enthusiasts! I am a second-year graduate student majoring in cello performance at the school of music at Sacramento State University. I’m also studying pedagogy by working as an apprentice teacher in the String Project program at Sacramento State. This program provides an environment for aspiring string teachers to get hands-on experience writing lesson plans, teaching group classes to intermediate and beginner string players, and preparing for an end-of-semester concert with the kids. I have taught in the String Project for one year, first in the beginner and now in the intermediate room. My experience in the String Project has given me valuable skills that I will continue to use as I progress as a string player and teacher.
This year has been especially exciting because I am teaching many of the same students from last year as they advance into the intermediate room. Watching them grow as musicians and string players has been truly rewarding. It is amazing to be able to attribute that growth to the hard work my colleagues and I have put in, as well as the students’ own practice and effort. For example, one especially energetic student couldn’t wait to tell me how much she had been practicing over the summer! It is so excellent to see the students coming from a long summer break renewed and excited for the coming year. I am happy to say that the students have started the year off on the right foot and I can’t wait to see (and hear) what they will achieve.
An essential skill I have developed is the confidence to lead a group of students to success. Before my lessons, I would always make sure to be as prepared as possible, but I have found that it is nearly impossible to prepare for the feeling I get standing in front of thirty expectant faces looking to me for inspiration. This, however, is the only way to truly improve as a teacher. Every music teacher should have the experience to lead a classroom before going out into the professional world. It is important to find your own personal style of teaching and leading, and working with students is the only way to discover what that might be. Getting in front of those kids and taking them through steps toward improving their string playing has given me the confidence to be a leader, not just in the String Project but in my life.