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6 Ted Talks for Elementary Music Teachers

Ted Talks for Elementary Music Teachers

educational tips music class resources music teachers Aug 03, 2021

      As the beginning of the school year gets closer and closer, I find myself looking for inspiration in all sorts of different places. After a whole summer of not thinking about school, I want to gently ease myself back into the teaching mindset instead of trying to dive in on day one. One way I like to do this is by watching inspiring webinars, and some of the most accessible ones are TedX Talks! I didn’t realize until recently that there are actually a ton of music education related TedX Talks on YouTube. Here are some of my personal favorites:

1. How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain


      While this one does not specifically talk about elementary music, it is still a fun watch! As music educators, I think it is important for us to understand our students’ brains and how music affects them. This is a quick watch that delves into the specifics of how instruments can benefit our students’ brains.

2. The Value of Music Education


      This is a bit of an older one (from TEDxSydney in 2011), but I found the message to still be relevant. Richard Gill goes into specifics about how music can impact the whole child, and tells funny, and relatable, stories from his own classroom. I found this talk to be fun and informative. Well worth the watch!

3. What if every child had access to music education?


      I found myself really relating to this talk. Unfortunately, many of us in the music education community have found it necessary to actively advocate and fight for our programs. It’s all too common to have to pull out statistics or reasons why cutting music would be bad for the school. This Ted talk from 2014 is all too relevant still today. Anita Collins discusses how music affects other subjects and gives great talking points to bring back to your administration. 

4. How to practice effectively... for just about anything


      This is one I actually show to my middle school students! When my students start with me in band or choir, I find that they don’t exactly know how to practice. They think it just involves playing through the same thing over and over again, but they often don’t realize that an effective practice session needs a goal and structure. This talk breaks down what makes practicing effective. (Though, I do want to note: Many of my students tend to focus a bit too much on the section that talks about how “thinking” about practicing can be just as effective. This is a good time to have a discussion with your kids about developing good practice habits first!)

5. A music education for the mind, body, and soul


      Leslie DeShazor provides fantastic ideas for how music educators can approach teaching in different ways to meet their students where they are. Letting students choose their own (developmentally appropriate) music can help foster a love of creating music and give the students ownership of their own learning. She approaches scales in a way that makes them accessible for her students instead of just another exercise they have to do. DeShazor packs a lot of information into nine minutes, and I know I will be revisiting this talk multiple times as the school year approaches!

6. A New Verse in Music (and Other) Education: Grab Quick Wins Early


      Zach Evans had an unconventional start in his music education journey; he started by teaching himself piano on YouTube. Now, there’s a section of our community that would turn their noses up at him because of this. “You can’t get a good education on YouTube!” “He never took private lessons; what could he possibly have to teach me?” I ask that you give him a chance. His talk is all about how to make lessons fun for students right from the start, which leads to them continuing to learn music. He discusses how he saw so many students (children and adults alike) drop lessons because they weren’t having fun. This talk is all about sequencing and motivation, two things which many of us struggle with. Think of how valuable a new perspective on these subjects could be at the beginning of your school year!


      Of course, these are not the only music education TedTalks out there. If I had to watch every single possible talk out there, this blog post would not have been written. That being said, make sure to give these six talks a watch and let us know which one was your favorite! Do you have a favorite music-themed TedTalk that’s not listed here? Tell us all about it!

This article was submitted by Rachel Ammons, contributing author for Interested in becoming a contributing author? Email resume and writing sample to [email protected].


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