The Pedagogy of Music by Kyle Coughlin


What is music pedagogy?

In basic terms, music pedagogy refers to how someone teaches music. Pedagogy involves the study of how we learn, and it effects our goals, what we teach, and how we teach it.

Two of the most influential music pedagogues in the 20th century were Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) and Carl Orff (1895-1982). They changed the way that many musicians think about teaching, and their ideas opened doors for new approaches to music education. Both Kodály and Orff have many followers, and they also have inspired many musicians to question traditional approaches to learning music and develop their own ways of teaching.

This site presents my music pedagogy and is intended for teachers, performers, and students of all levels. It contains thoughts and ideas intended to help musicians practice better, enjoy music more, and experience music on a deeper level.

My Three Principles of Pedagogy

My pedagogical ideas all stem from three main principles that aim to help students do the following:
1. Expand their awareness of music
2. Perform in a way that is effortless and accurate
3. Enjoy the process

There is nothing fancy about these ideas, and my approach is pretty basic. However, it’s easy to forget about these concepts or take them for granted, so it’s worth delving deeper into them.

My main goals are simple: to help people experience the joy of making music and learn how to perform on a higher level. If performers keep these principles in mind then audiences will benefit too, because the better and more genuine the performance, the greater the enjoyment for everyone involved. The ideas contained in this site are not designed to teach you how to get an “A” in band class, or a “1” in the next solo festival. The suggestions and advice here are not intended to teach you how to play scales at blindingly fast speeds or how to show off and impress all of your friends. However, if you follow these tenets, you will have much greater rewards, and your musical and technical skills will blossom. Most importantly, everyone will experience a greater enjoyment of the music you make -- especially you!

I have developed and refined the pedagogy in these pages over a 30 year career of studying, performing professionally, and teaching music. In that time, I have had many opportunities to work with some great musicians and learn from performing with them and talking to them. Also, I have known many great educators and have had long conversations with them about how to teach music more effectively. My experience as an educator has allowed me to work with students of all ages and abilities and see what is effective and what isn’t.

To learn more about me and my music, visit any of the links or go to


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