One of the things I noticed right away as a new teacher is that my students learn differently, and what works for one of them will not automatically work for another.

I’ve found that understanding how each of them learns best makes lessons more successful and more enjoyable for us both.

To help simplify that process, here is an overview of the three learning styles.

1. Visual Learners

These students primarily learn by seeing. They connect to the music based on how it looks.

Learners of this type are usually adept at recognizing patterns, which makes them natural note-readers and sight-players.

They tend to look at their hands often while playing, and if you demonstrate something they will watch you closely and then try to copy it.

This kind of learner often struggles with intonation and ear-training, and they may have trouble playing along with a metronome because the clicks are heard rather than seen.

They will likely do well playing rhythms that are written out for them.

They love written instructions, charts, illustrations, imagery, word pictures, and color-coded everything.

2. Auditory Learners

These students primarily learn by hearing. They connect to the sound of the music.

This type of learner will develop good intonation quickly and be skilled at playing by ear.

They do well in duets or ensembles because they can easily match or blend with the sounds the other musicians are making.

They may have a hard time learning to read notes on the staff, but will probably respond well to the metronome since it helps them hear the beat of the music.

When you demonstrate something for them, they will listen intently and then try to match the sounds they heard.

These students love spoken instructions, audio recordings, stories, and verbal feedback.

3. Kinesthetic Learners

Sometimes called tactile learners, these students primarily learn by doing. They connect to the feel of the music.

Kinesthetic learners tend to do well with phrasing and artistry and have excellent muscle memory, which makes them quick memorizers.

They may struggle with playing by ear and learning to identify notes on the page, but they will easily learn how to do new physical things, like using the pedals on a piano.

This kind of learner will immediately copy whatever you demonstrate for them so they can see how it feels.

They love clapping, tapping, repetitive motions, and anything that makes the music more expressive, flowing, or march-like.

Important Note:

Although many students will fit easily into one of the above categories, it’s important to note that some people are a combination of two or even all three of these styles.

Many students will have one primary learning style and a secondary one. Everyone is different, but you will get to know your student’s style better as time goes by.

Now that you understand what the three learning styles are, find out how to identify which ones your students have.

Which of the three learning styles are you? How do you teach students who are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners? Join the discussion below!

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