Universal skills in the music lesson

 Teaching universal skills in the music lesson can provide extraordinary life-long benefits.      

The idea behind The Transposed Musician

The point I always make when explaining the idea behind The Transposed Musician approach is that well-learned, comprehensive universal skills have no limits to their potential applications or benefits. I also mention that using a universal skill in a wide array of applications helps to strengthen it more than by primarily applying it in one application (such as in music).  That’s why, after I introduce a universal skill in the music lesson (i.e., problem-solving to benefit practice efficiency), I always ask my student where else they could apply that skill and why. Then, using their answer, I create a non-music application assignment (using that particular skill) for them to engage outside the lesson.

Universal skills are not just for music, but for life

I want my students to become hyper-aware of the tremendous benefits that can be gained from using well-honed tools (universal skills) – and not just for music but for all of life. Students often do not fully realize it in the beginning, but the universal skills they are learning in the music lesson with me are also the very ones they will need throughout all of life. Helping my students understand the importance of skill transference – consciously using skill in many diverse applications – is a major component of my teaching philosophy and one which links directly to the fundamental idea of a liberal arts education.  

Continuous reinforcement is necessary

Because of their importance and the fact that they get better through practice, universal skills are not a one-off topic to be touched upon in one or two lessons. Instead, they must be spoken of and developed continuously in every lesson. Allow the needs of the student to dictate which skill you will introduce and develop. Continuous reinforcement will be necessary.  

The right skill

The right skill, as we all know, can make the difference between struggle and ease, failure and success. The more a student experiences the benefits of learning and applying universal skills, the more they will be motivated to continue developing them. I make sure to let my students know that I continuously work on developing my universal skills, even after many decades of doing so. And I can always see improvement!

Making universal skill training a part of each lesson

We music teachers have long-said that our students not only learn an instrument but life skills as well. But, we have left that task largely to them, hoping they will obtain some proficiency along the way. Instead, why not try making universal skill training part of each lesson and see what happens? I think you’ll love the results.