Lesson Plan

HMPS ‘Lesson Plan’

I have more experience now with music and teaching than I had at
the beginning.

When I first started teaching after graduating UNT I had a ‘good idea’
on what an excellent music lesson plan should consist of. Basic
fundamentals such as ear training, rhythm, theory and essential
repertoire that have stood the test of time are some of the
components of the plan.

Throughout my years teaching I’ve applied this plan to several of my
students, many of whom still keep in touch with me, still play music
and have gone off to ivy league schools and now are working
professional adults.

I’ve also had the privilege to teach side by side at the studio with
world-class musicians and instructors, and during that time we
bounce ideas off each other on what works and what doesn’t and
we’ve learned from each other about teaching and music itself.

To top it all off since beginning teaching, I’ve been blessed with four
children (2 step-kids, 2 sons of my own) who play music, and given
me first hand experience on what its like to be a parent trying to get
their kid to practice and discover music.

Key Elements

I’ve always said and believed it to be true that the two most important
qualities of a music lesson are that the student

1. Learn

2. Have Fun

Ideally both of those are happening. We could expand on that a little
bit more to give you an idea of what we are capable of guiding your
student to, you could say it’s a goal.

Through music lessons with us we can show your student in time

  • How to listen to any song and learn to play it ‘by ear’
  • How to sing in tune
  • How to feel good rhythm
  • The basic building blocks of chords & scales
  • Simple pop songs that they enjoy
  • Standard Repertoire that has stood the test of time
  • How to read music & participate in a musical ensemble
  • How to play in a rock/pop/worship band
  • How to improvise
  • How to compose and create music
  • How to operate modern recording equipment

And lets not forget the academic importance music has that is
generally accepted as truth and was spoken by the philosophers and
teachers Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.

However probably most important to you as a parent is the joy that
you feel hearing your child sing or play a song! There is a certain
un-explainable emotion that you experience when you hear your child
play or sing. That moving feeling and emotion that you experience
compounds when we train your student to play and/or sing at a high
level of skill. And the best time to do that is now when they are
young, their brains are still developing and they have free time

So, I’m happy to present you with what I believe is the best music
lesson plan, its different stages and what your role as a parent plays
into the process.

The Steps

Step 1. (takes on average 1-2 years of weekly hourly lessons)


  • Ear Training – 15 minutes
  • Rhythm – 15 minutes
  • Technique – 15 minutes
  • Simple Songs – 15 minutes


  • Listen to New Music
  • Play Simple Skills
  • Play Simple Songs

Step 2. (takes on average 2-3 years of weekly hourly lessons)


  • Ear Training – 15 minutes
  • Technique – 15 minutes
  • Standard Songs – 15 Minutes
  • Simple Songs – 15 Minutes


  • Listen to New Music
  • Play Simple Skills
  • Play Standard Songs
  • Play Simple Songs

Step 3. (takes on average 3-5 years of weekly hourly lessons)


  • Ear Training – 15 minutes
  • Reading – 15 minutes
  • Standard Songs – 15 minutes
  • Improvisation – 15 minutes
  • +
  • Participate in a Reading/Modern Ensemble/Band


  • Listen to New Music
  • Play Standard Songs
  • Play Ensemble Pieces

Step 4. (takes 5+ years of study)


  • Ear Training – 15 minutes
  • Reading – 15 minutes
  • Standard Songs – 15 minutes
  • Composition – 15 minutes
  • +
  • Participate in a Reading/Modern Ensemble/Band


  • Listen to New Music
  • Create Compositions
  • Play Standard Songs
  • Play Ensemble Pieces


There are eight different skills that we work on in Music Lessons, I
like to simplify them into one word each.

  • Listen – Ear Training
  • Count – Rhythm
  • Spell – Theory
  • Play – Simple Songs
  • Read – Reading Music
  • Remember – Standard Repertoire
  • Together – Ensemble
  • Create – Composition

The top three skills to work on in a music lesson (which in my opinion
are the best use of the student & teachers time as well as your
money) are Ear Training, Rhythm & Theory. These skills you can’t
learn well from a book, they are passed along from person to person
and they require gentle correction and encouragement. They are the
building blocks that make more difficult songs possible and are the
doorway to a deeper experience of music.
The other skills are important but once the student is enabled and
able to listen, count and read, the instructor takes on more of a role
as a coach and guide. When a student can learn songs by listening
and/or reading a reproduce them accurately with good rhythm the
student can independently learn extra work on their own. Ensembles
often occur outside of the lessons, we have some at the studio, but
the larger ensembles like Band, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Choir,
Worship Team, Rock Bands etc. occur and should for the most part
occur outside of the studio.
Finally the majority of composition assignments (when the student
reaches that point) will occur in their rooms in the late hours of the
night, not in a short one-hour weekly lesson.

Listen – Ear Training

Brief Description: In music we have 12 different notes that have 12
different relationships to each other. Ear training teaches the student how to
recognize the notes and their relationships by singing, recognizing & auralating
the pitches (visualize sound).
Exercise Examples: The instructor plays two notes and has the student
sing them, the instructor then plays the notes individually and the student detects
what they are by listening. We add more notes and more relationships as the
student progresses.

What it enables the student to do: Learn songs by ear without an
instrument, sing with excellent pitch, imagine songs in their minds. Ear training
brings the colors of the notes to life.

Count – Rhythm

Brief Description: In music we divide Time into beats and subdivide(
and multiply) those beats into different patterns. Rhythm exercises develop an
inner metronome and feel for how music moves through time by repeating
patterns at different speeds.
Exercise Examples: I prefer to use ‘Progressive Steps to Syncopation For
the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed’ to teach the Rhythmic alphabet. It has
complete quarter, eight, triplet, sixteenth note exercises as well as accents. We
practice these with a metronome until they are perfect by tapping out the rhythms
on our legs.
What it enables the student to do: Rhythm brings music to life and
gives motion to their playing. The stronger the command of rhythm that you
have, the clearer the feeling that the student will be able to experience and
convey. When a student doesn’t take the time to develop great rhythm, the
music they play feels anxious and forced. Rhythm opens up the other emotions.

Spell – Theory

Brief Description: Theory is the abc’s of music. Reading, Writing and
Spelling Intervals, Scales and Chords. When you take two notes together or one
after the other you have an interval, when you have three or more you have a
chord, when you take a pattern of intervals in succession you have scales.
Exercise Examples: Major & Minor (happy & sad) chords in all twelve
keys. Major, Minor and Pentatonic scales in all keys.
What it enables the student to do: Learn songs easier by practicing
the basic patterns. By reading and playing these patterns and internalizing them
the student starts to see the reoccurring patterns in music and it makes it easier
to read and play more difficult pieces.

Play – Simple Songs

Brief Description: Simple songs are easy to play, read and remember.
They are primarily melodies and take a short time to play.
Exercise Examples: Nursery Rhymes, Pop Songs, Rock Songs, Christmas
Carols, anything that has a simple melody and is easy to remember.
What it enables the student to do: Simple songs get the students
feet wet and give a sense of accomplishment. Its fun to recreate music and
melodies that they’ve heard before and give them momentum into the more
advanced music.

Read – Reading Music

Brief Description: Looking at a sheet of music and correctly playing the
notes, rhythms and dynamics.
Exercise Examples: Sight Reading classical songs, reading chord charts,
reading chord and melody charts, reading choral and orchestral sections.
What it enables the student to do: When we practice reading in the
lesson we are preparing them for ensemble reading. Students that are able to
sight-read are more effective ensemble members.

Remember – Standard Repertoire

Brief Description: Playing music that has stood the test of time and is
beyond the scope of simple songs.
Exercise Examples: Music by the Masters. Classical such as Bach,
Beethoven, Mozart, Debussey, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Sor, Segovia, Tarrega,
Scott Joplin. Jazz Standards and the great American song book.
What it enables the student to do: Standard Repertoire gives the
student a rich history of the music greats that have made a profound impact on
our culture.

Together – Ensemble
Brief Description: Playing and/or reading in a musical ensemble with
other students.
Exercise Examples: Marching Band, Choir, Worship Ensembles,
Orchestra, Bands.
What it enables the student to do: Ensembles give the student the
experience of playing music together with other people.

Create – Composition
Brief Description: Arranging melodies, harmonies, words and rhythms
into original patterns.
Exercise Examples: Composition study of artists & scores. Emulation
assignments, recording of compositions.
What it enables the student to do: Composition is the peak of the
musical experience, it enables to student to create their own work.