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The Music Master Teacher Program is a music educational initiative that brings together a team of music specialists and academic experts with the aim to provide a teacher training course that may significantly impact the quality of music education and the professionalism of music teachers in community settings and beyond. Fundamental to our notion of the master teacher is the view that master teachers better professionalize their teaching when engaging with a variety of teaching methodologies and pedagogies; as well as expanding their knowledge of playing the instrument through exploring significant differences and areas of crossover between teaching approaches embedded in our culture and those rooted in other music traditions in the world.

The MMTP initiative stems from the observation that several music teachers held an ambivalent standpoint as regards to the role of specialized teacher training. As a matter of fact, while teacher training occupies a vital corner of the world of education across disparate disciplines, numerous instrumental music teachers start and continue teaching without having received training in how to teach; thus, relying exclusively on subjective evaluations. It is common, in fact, that objective bases of knowledge (e.g. pedagogical knowledge) in education are rejected by virtue of the belief that no or little knowledge beyond the pure mechanics of playing the instrument is needed for transmitting instrumental skills and music knowledge, thereby standing in stark contrast with standard methodological approaches to the constructing of knowledge.

Owing to this, the MMTP aims to purposefully interrupt the limiting notion that teaching music does not require to be supported by educational training. In this view, the program seeks to blur the boundaries between this misleading split between performing skills and educational knowledge. And it aims to oppose such a dichotomy between teaching knowledge and performing skills through supporting the view that the former situates the latter in the wider perspective required to teach to play an instrument. By extension, we take the stand that teacher training is essential to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to launch and maintain a successful teaching career.

At the same time, however, we also recognize that teacher training courses specialized in instrumental teaching are rarely at the forefront of any type of music course at college or university. Instead, teacher training courses are commonly at disposal through independent enterprises whose methodologies spearheaded and inspired new ways of teaching music. However, the primary objectives of such methodologies often fall outside the objectives and concerns of contemporary guitar players as these methodologies are mostly designed with a specific age, a specific instrument, or specific music culture in mind. As a result, some forms of teaching, or the stylistic breadth relevant to our scope, flies under the radar of widespread private organisations as well as recognized institutions.

To this end, the MMTP is not a methodology in a strict sense, nor it stands in competition with any current methodology. On the contrary, it acknowledges the deep value and effectiveness embedded in each methodology. Yet, parallel to this, we submit that because major music methodologies tend to reflect the outlook and experience of a single educator, often associated with a specific music culture and time, we aim to broaden the discussion so as to take into account multiple perspectives in order to acquire the breadth of knowledge that guitar teacher of our time would most benefit of. Because of this, on the one hand the MMTP attempts to promote appreciation towards several recognizes European methodologies. One the other, we strive to supplement them with teaching practises from other cultures, as well as presenting the outcomes of academic disciplines and approaches.

The typology of guitar teachers addressed by the MMTP include those who represent community teaching settings, which are widely recognised as the depository of the high specialized knowledge in music teaching across cultures, worldwide. However, although teachers in the private sector are driven by teaching trajectories that differs from the role held in public education, too often guitar teachers who operate in this sector don’t fully appreciate the value of their own specialized role, perceiving it subordinated to that of the generic classroom music teacher.

The lack of a teacher training program designed for the private teacher described above undermines the career of the private music teacher on multiple counts. Firstly, music private teachers (unlike the classroom teacher) are more often associated with unqualified status, and their status is degraded for not having undergone and completed a teacher training program. Secondly, the lack of a comprehensive road map to career development and qualification presents disadvantages to music teachers as they embark on a highly specialized and competitive profession on their own as oppose to state employment – and without the required teaching expertise and professional management to support their ambition for a long-term career. In this scenario, private guitar teachers can withdraw into self-doubting or professional fossilization, ultimately putting in danger their social, financial, and personal well-being.

To avoid this, the MMTP encourages teachers to take matters into their own hands and attend a course designed to advance them on their career. In response, the program is conceived to provide answers to the demands and expectations of aspiring teachers who seek a professional guitar teacher training built around the skills they need to create a significant and longstanding impact on their career and to stand out in today’s competitive and rapidly evolving profession.

In many respects, we believe that joining the program will represent the turning point for a teacher. For transitioning from being an untrained teacher to becoming the best teacher one can be, engaging with a broad range of knowledge on education and with experts in the profession will produce the building blocks that elevates a teacher effectiveness to the highest standards. A proclivity for teaching, after all, is fundamental; but alone is not enough for advancing one’s career and avoid the pitfall and risks of trial and error.

To achieve this, at the hearth of the MMTP lies the vision to support teachers in their need to acquire the skills that distinguish a music teacher from a music master teacher. While the former may possess expertise in curricular content and have developed intuitive teaching skills, the latter are also capable of understanding the rationale behind the content they teach, analysing, warranting, and arguing their teaching insights and decisions methodologically, sourcing sound evidence, since as reflexive practitioners they are informed by the research literature and are able to position their practical enquiry and intuitive teaching craft in the knowledge base.

Consequently, our vision does not envisage to provide codified knowledge alone, but encourages critical thinking based on the assumption that independent analysis will enable teachers to weave practical and theoretical insights together to inform solutions to the unique circumstances that present themselves in their teaching practice. At the same time, we warn about the dangers of the binary thinking that leads to the polarisation of theoretical and practical perspective, and that regards them as irreconcilable. On the contrary, we take a stance for fostering the principle of the teacher-as-researcher by exploring the dialogic relationship between evidence-based knowledge and understanding gather from practical process.

Finally, one of our cores aims behind the program is to bring together teaching experts and academics who represent the creative force within the private music teaching sector, and who can ignite challenging discussions, enabling the participants to transcend their boundaries. In fact, all members of the MMTP team are musicians and professional teachers who hold a diploma or degree from a recognised academic institution and are committing to elevate the standards of their profession.

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