Bridging the Gap: From Traditional Musician to Music Teacher

For many of us, the journey into the world of traditional music and song starts with a passion for creating, performing, and expressing oneself through sound. However, being a traditional musician and a music teacher are distinct roles that require unique skills, perspectives, and approaches. In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between these two roles and how one can transition from being a musician to becoming an effective music teacher.

The Art of Performance vs. The Craft of Teaching

Being a traditional musician revolves around honing one’s performance skills, mastering instruments, and captivating audiences. It’s about expressing oneself through music. On the other hand, a music teacher’s role is to impart knowledge, cultivate skills, and inspire students to find their unique musical voices. In other words, teaching is not about you – it’s about your students. 

Communication and Pedagogy

While a traditional musician communicates through their music, a music teacher must excel in verbal and non-verbal communication to effectively convey concepts, techniques, and musical nuances to students. This demands a deep understanding of pedagogical strategies tailored to different learning styles and levels. Yep – it’s requires a whole other skill set!

Adaptability and Patience

Adaptability is key for a traditional music teacher. Each student comes with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and learning pace. A teacher must be patient, understanding, and flexible in tailoring lessons to suit individual needs, ensuring every student thrives. And this applies when teaching in groups lessons as much as in one-to-one settings.

Putting Words on ‘Wordless Knowledge’

Traditional musicians often have an intuitive grasp of how traditional music works and the creative process involved in performing. Often, however, this knowledge is explicit; it exists as wordless knowledge. While being able to make creative musical decisions intuitively and in the moment is a coveted skill in performance this can actually be challenging when it comes to teaching. A traditional music teacher, as well as being able to demonstrate techniques to students, must be adept at explaining these concepts and demystifying style in order to reach students with different learning styles and needs – as well as to ensure that all students are able to understand and articulate what it is they are learning at any given time.

Nurturing Creativity

A traditional musician’s creativity is often driven by personal expression, while a music teacher must foster creativity in their students. This involves encouraging exploration, composition, and interpretation to help students find their own unique musical voice. It’s easy to over-teach – and to adopt (and rigidly adhere to) a ‘sage on the stage’ approach, where you, the teacher makes all the decisions while the student imitates and perfects. Creating space in your lessons to encourage the learner to find their own musical voice is so important.

Assessing Progress and Growth

A traditional music teacher must be skilled at evaluating student progress, setting achievable goals, and providing constructive feedback. This requires a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of musical development.

Continuing Education

To be an effective traditional music teacher, one must commit to lifelong learning. Staying updated with evolving teaching methods, educational technology, and musical trends ensures that students receive the best possible education.


Transitioning from being a traditional musician to a music teacher is a transformative journey that requires dedication, adaptability, and a genuine passion for imparting musical knowledge. While these roles differ in many respects, they both share a common thread—the profound impact they have on shaping the musical journeys of others. By embracing the nuances of each role, one can bridge the gap and inspire the next generation of traditional musicians.

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