Do you have a student who will gladly talk your ear off?

Is it hard for you to get a word in edgewise, let alone get through your lesson plan?  

How can we get through a lesson with these little social butterflies without squashing their spirit…or sacrificing productivity?

Here are my five best tips for teaching talkative students (and believe me, I’ve had a few):

Use a Whiteboard

This has been a game changer for me with my talkative students.

At the beginning of the lesson, write down a lesson plan outline.

I prefer a more general outline, but you might want yours to be more detailed…whatever works!

Let your student check off each item on the board after it’s been completed. They might be more focused if they can see exactly where they are in the lesson and what is coming up next.

Bonus Tip: Put the student’s favorite lesson activity, such as a review game or sticker time, at the end of the lesson. This will provide some extra motivation for them to concentrate hard and get through the rest of the lesson plan!

Ask Questions

Our most talkative students just can’t sit through an entire lesson quietly.

So if they must do some talking, why not make a review session out of it?

Asking them questions like “What note is this?”, “How many beats does a whole note get?” and “What kind of patterns do you hear in this song?” makes the lesson more interactive and engaging.

It’s also a good way to gauge their understanding of the material that’s being presented.

Often, kids tend to zone out (or get extra chatty) when they don’t understand what’s being taught.

So if your student is having an especially hard time staying focused on the task at hand, take a minute to make sure they actually understand what that task is!

Emphasize Song Lyrics

Talkative students really, really love words.

That might seem obvious, but it’s actually an opportunity for music teachers.

Even f you’re not a voice teacher, you’ll find that many of the pieces your students learn have lyrics that go along with them… and if they don’t, try to write some in!

Having your student read and-or sing along with the words might get them more interested in the piece they’re learning.

Give it a shot and see what happens!

Designate a “Story Time”

Extra-talkative kiddos are usually bursting at the seams with stories to share.

Whether it’s something that happened at school that day, their dog’s love for peanut butter, or their latest trip to the dentist, they want you to hear all about it!

Their enthusiasm is admirable. But unfortunately, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for, you know, actually teaching music.

One way to work around this is by designating a specific “Story Time” during the lesson when the student can tell you one (short!) story of their choice.

Put it on the whiteboard if you want, and gently remind them to wait for Story Time whenever they start to veer off course.

This gives them an outlet to tell you what they’ve been itching to share while preserving most of your time together to learning and music-making.

Let Them Play Teacher

Give your Chatty Cathys (and Chatty Carls) a chance to put their voices to good use!

Try switching roles and having them “teach” you something you’ve been working on.

Ask them to explain and/or demonstrate a concept that they have recently learned.

This is a really good way to review newly taught information while giving them a chance to talk.

Also, your student is more likely to remember it after they have “taught” it to you. Educational studies have shown that students retain approximately 90% of the information that they themselves teach to others.

And your student is eager to do some talking anyway, so why not give it a try?

What approaches do you take with your talkative students? Let us know in the comments!

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