When the COVID-19 shutdowns happened last year, it caused many people to tune in and really think about themselves and how they were living. I was no exception. That time really forced me to think deeply about who I am, what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. I was feeling some self-doubt, but taking a look at the facts, I also saw that we are the No. 2 rated music school in the county. We have amazing teachers. We have dedicated students with wonderful family support. Basically, we were doing something right.

Beyond Theory: The Making of a Music Teacher_Eric Nehring

As I sorted through these thoughts, something hit me. It almost felt like a matter of divine providence: I need to share what’s happening at the school with the world. So, while I ran my business during a time of real uncertainty and tended to a new baby with my wife as well as my other four kids, I decided to write a book to share that story. The book is called “Beyond Theory: the making of a Music Teacher,” and it’ll launch this fall.

“Beyond Theory” includes autobiographical details about my life as a music teacher through my college years up until I started MnSOM. Then, it gets into some of the challenges and opportunities I had when I first opened the school that ultimately led me to create processes to hire, train, and support music teachers. Those processes and the values that drive them are really what helps MnSOM hire great teachers and subsequently provide the quality instruction we’re known for.

The book looks a lot at what makes a good music teacher, and the answer that I came up with might surprise you. It’s not having a degree in music education or performance. In fact, many of our teachers have degrees in other fields. It’s not even about having a background in teaching music. A great teacher is someone who has humility, who is a lifelong learner, who works hard, has passion that will push them through the challenges of teaching, and who is service-minded. Individuals with those five values are the ones we look to hire MnSOM and that’s where we’ve seen a lot of success.

We tend to focus a lot on qualifications and experience, but some of the best music teachers I know come with interesting backgrounds outside of music. What I’ve learned through the years is that the values and personal traits we have matter so much more than the qualifications on a resume for creating good teachers. And those values are a lot harder to teach or install than teaching music theory or good instruction principles are!

My hope is that this book will help make things easier for young music teachers or those who may not even realize they’d be great music teachers! I’ve learned so much throughout the years as I built MnSOM. There was no book like this on the market at the time, so the lessons contained in this book were all hard-won. And I think they can be of great benefit to the next generation of music educators.

If you’d like to get a copy for yourself, I’d be so grateful for the support! They’re going to be a Kindle version available, and you can learn more about the launch details in the coming month’s newsletter and on our Facebook page at thanks so much to all of you. Without your support, MnSOM wouldn’t possible, and neither would this book!