Navigating Music Teaching in Uncertain Times

Samantha Foss

March 3, 2023

During this time of uncertainty, music educators and students face many challenges. In addition to the obvious ones, personal issues can make it difficult for teachers to teach. One of the most important considerations for teachers is ensuring that they are taking care of themselves. Whether dealing with an illness, a student, or a family member, caring for themselves can help them feel better and keep them more focused.

Legal Issues

When teaching music in uncertain times, legal issues can arise. These can include a court case, a problem with your property, or legal issues about young people.

Educators may also encounter copyright issues. They need to know about the exceptions under copyright law that allow teachers to use copyrighted materials in their classrooms.

A fundamental problem with the current copyright regime is that it is often too narrow, cumbersome, incompatible with new technology, or vague. Creating and distributing educational content that adds value to students’ learning experiences can make it challenging.


Technology has a significant role in music education. It can be used to help teachers reach students through their online classes, and it also helps them track progress.

The use of technology has increased in the last few decades, and there are many different ways to utilize it to teach music. For example, online drum machines allow students to create their rhythms for songs, and many software programs can help them build pieces.

Despite these benefits, technology can also challenge music teachers and their students. For example, music teachers must be aware that technology can make it harder for them to give individual attention to their students. This can lead to burnout or anxiety for students, affecting their learning.

Social Issues

When teaching music in uncertain times, social issues can arise. These include changes in technology and learning environments, migration and population mobility, socioeconomic downturns, political instability, and democratic values under dispute.

To address these problems, we must rethink the applications and methodologies established by institutions and accepted as “common practice” based on years of proven effectiveness. In particular, practices involving rehearsal and performance participation, grading policies, and admission procedures may no longer be practical or feasible.

One of the critical aspects to consider when navigating music teaching in uncertain times is the mental capacities needed for success in the new world. These capacities are anchored in a culture’s cosmology that defines what is sane, wise, foolish, good, evil, and beautiful.

Personal Issues

Music teachers in uncertain times often face personal issues that arise when teaching. Some of these concerns involve their feelings and the impact on their relationships with students and colleagues. In contrast, other issues may affect the changes in pedagogical practices that they must implement due to pandemic-imposed instructional demands.

In a recent survey study (Miksza et al., 2021; Parkes et al., 2021), we explored the impact of a global pandemic on music teacher well-being during the Spring 2020 semester. Our findings indicated that despite having received professional development and a variety of resources available to them, most participants needed to be adequately prepared for the pandemic-imposed instructional demands.

The most common concerns were related to how the pandemic affected their teaching pedagogy, sense of safety at work, and health. However, some teachers reported that the pandemic had led them to redesign their pedagogy better to meet students’ needs in remote emergency teaching modes and to develop new learning relations with their students.