Are you or your students getting bored of playing the same old stuff? Consider how to teach a pop song to yourself and others.
I’ve self-taught myself a variety of pop songs, and they’re some of my favorite songs to play. Keep reading to learn how you can learn and teach pop songs on your instrument.
Talk to the Student
The first thing you should do before you teach a pop song is figure out what that song will be. If you’re a private teacher, you should talk to your student and learn what singers and songs they enjoy.
Of course, if you’re looking to teach yourself, you can simply think about the songs you like.
When it comes to learning any kind of music, it should be fun. That means you should teach music that your students (including you) want to play. It will be a lot easier to practice and improve compared to playing music that bores you.
Start With One Song
Another one of my biggest tips is to assign one song at a time. Pop music may not be as technically challenging as classical music. But that doesn’t mean you should learn a whole album in one go.
Especially if you’re new to playing and teaching pop, you should start with one song. Make sure you and your student really understand the song’s structure and melody. Then, you can perform the song before moving on.
As you get more used to playing pop music, you can learn or teach multiple songs at a time. I’ve gotten to the point where I can learn a few songs in a day, but we all have to start somewhere.
Get the Sheet Music
If you and your students are classically trained, you’re most likely used to learning music by reading the notes. So the first time you go to teach a pop song, you may want to find the sheet music.
You can buy the individual piece or a book of songs that includes the one in question. Alternatively, I’d recommend subscribing to MuseScore PRO+, especially if you think you’ll want to learn a lot of pop music.
Eventually, I’d recommend trying to learn pop music by ear since not every song has official sheet music. But for now, it doesn’t hurt to give yourself more resources to use.
Learn the Song Yourself
It’s a lot easier to teach a pop song that you can play than one you can’t. If you have a student who wants to learn a song, consider learning it yourself. As I mentioned, pop songs aren’t too hard to learn, so you don’t need hours.
So you could have a student mention wanting to learn a song today. Then, by the time their next lesson rolls around, you can demonstrate it. And you can make sure to have a copy of the music for them.
Learning the song allows you to figure out the more difficult parts. Plus, you can determine what parts need to be transposed up an octave or if you should play the whole thing up an octave.
Follow Your Regular Teaching Methods
When it’s time to teach a pop song, don’t feel like you have to do anything super differently from normal. You can use the stand teaching methods that you would when teaching classical repertoire.
If you play music with your student, play the pop song together. Or if you like to listen to a recording first, do that. As the saying goes, if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it. (Pun intended)
For example, I teach primarily through video tutorials and recording feedback. So that’s how I would teach someone who wanted to learn a pop song.
Prepare for Questions
Like with any piece of music, your student may have questions about the pop song. This is another great reason to learn the song yourself before you start teaching it to students.
You can prepare for questions a student might have about the breathing, articulation, or phrasing. If you can anticipate what questions a student will have, you can make sure to cover those concepts in the lesson.
Of course, you can also break the song up into different sections. So you might have a student learn the verses first, then the chorus. You can address any issues with each section as they come up.
Talk About the Form
Whenever you teach a pop song to an advanced student, consider going deeper than just the melody. For example, you can talk about the form of the pop song, many of which are similar.
A lot of pop songs go verse, chorus, verse, chorus. Some have a bridge near the end followed by a final chorus. Because of the similarities, you may not want to talk about the form for every song you work on.
However, it can be a good way to incorporate music theory into your lessons. And you can use music the student is already interested in.
Start Collecting Pop Music
Maybe you only have one student who wants to learn pop music now. And they might only want to learn songs from one artist. But you never know what your current or future students will want to learn.
If you have room in your budget, start collecting sheet music for different pop songs. That way, when you have a student who wants to learn more music, you can present them with options right away.
And after you finish teaching a pop song to a student, don’t get rid of the music. You might have another student who will want to learn that same song in the future. If you keep your current copy, you won’t have to repurchase it later.
Why Teach a Pop Song
Whether you’re self-taught or have a studio of private students, there are a few reasons why you may want to teach a pop song to yourself or others. Here are some of my favorite reasons.
Keep Students Engaged
If you find it hard to keep students either engaged during lessons or enrolled in lessons at all, what you’re teaching could be the problem. Consider if any of your students would prefer to play pop music over classical.
There are times when it’s good to teach the standards, such as if you have a student who wants to go to college for music. However, try to let your students learn what they want to (as long as it suits their level).
That way, you can keep your students interested in music and excited about practicing and coming to lessons. And you won’t have to constantly recruit new students to keep your studio full.
Expand Your Own Playing
You can start to play pop music for your own enjoyment. Once you learn a pop song, you’ll be able to teach it to your students. Then, you can share your passion for the genre with others.
Sure, you may still primarily play and teach classical music. But if you want to improve and find yourself getting bored, switch things up.
Program a Pop Recital
If you have multiple students who want to learn pop songs, you could plan and program a pop recital for your studio. Then, you can give each student the chance to play a solo on the concert.
Plus, you may find it easier to get people to want to come see the performance. Audiences will know more of the songs.
Attract New Students
You can use your ability to teach a pop song to help grow your studio. When marketing yourself and conducting trial lessons, you can mention how you offer lessons in classical, pop, and other genres.
If no other teacher in your area offers pop music lessons, you might be able to get more students to enroll with you. You can still teach classical music. But if you make pop music your niche, you can set yourself apart.
Being able to teach a pop song is great way to build and maintain a full private studio. But even if you’re not a teacher, you can teach yourself the latest top hits.
I love learning and teaching pop music because it’s what I listen to. And I have a growing library of pop songs arranged for various flutes and flute ensembles if you’re looking for sheet music.