I believe that everyone has a natural tendency to want to learn and explore. I do not believe that schools need to force learning on students (as long as they tap into their natural curiosity).
I believe that the purpose of schools is to inspire students to be curious, creative, innovative, passionate and compassionate.
I believe that music has a unique opportunity to inspire students to be creative, critical and emotional thinkers which is essential to being a successful member of the twenty-first century.
I believe that music education should foster the understanding that music is an integral part of life and help students explore the various ways that they can involve themselves in music throughout their lives. Music is a part of the human experience and education can show students how they can be involved with this human experience, beyond general music, beyond band and beyond public school.
I believe that all music has merit, and all music can have a legitimate place in schools. The phrase “good repertoire” tends to be a code word for old thinking. Schools should have many opportunities for many different kinds of music, that relate to students and relate to the current cultural context of the community.
I believe that education has a responsibility to make the changes/reforms that are necessary to provide the best education possible. Education is the life blood of a society and critical to improving the quality of life. The educational system and everyone in the educational system has the potential to change the world - cliche…but true.
When I was finishing up my undergrad we wrote a creed/I believe paper….I dug up that paper and read it. My beliefs have always been grounded in the same general ideas, but they have defiantly evolved over time. —->Click here to read to my creed from 2008
“Teaching and learning are human endeavors, holistic experiences that are constructed intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually….Building curriculum solely around subject matter, programs of study, and abstract objectives derived from expert knowledge of the field of music is short-sighted because it fails to take sufficient account of all the ways in which knowledge is socially and individually constructed and of the centrality of teacher-student interaction in the learner’s and teacher’s experience.” (124).
“Teaching and learning are human endeavors” I think this point is crucial to true education. I don’t think you can force education on anyone. I do believe that humans are naturally curious and learning is a natural endeavour that doesn’t need to be forced. I think about all the natural learning (or maybe informal learning) as the learning that happens when you don’t feel like you are learning. When I think about learning in this way I realize that we are pretty much learning every waking moment. Every time we take in any stimulus we are processing it, making connections and adjusting our understanding of the world. It seems (with the best of intentions) that natural learning is then taken out of context and tried to be taught in schools in an unnatural way. I think that this happens, because we as humans, or Americans have a tendency to want to organize and fix things in a very systematic way. Curriculum’s, systems of accountability, grades, school schedules and many more characteristics of public schools are designed to be systematic and organized. With organization and systematic processes being the norm it feels counter intuitive to do anything different. If things are not going well it must mean we need even more not less. The point I am trying to make is that I think we need to remember that learning didn’t start happening in schools. Natural learning was first then systematic approaches were developed to try and educate in schools. With this in mind, we can begin to see that these systematic approaches may not be the answer, the answer may be going back to a more natural type of learning.
I wonder if we all took a bit of a leap of faith and tried to educate in a more natural way, based more on natural curiosity and a desire for knowledge, would all students end up learning. Would all students be prepared to be successful members of society, or would a certain number of students fall between the cracks? Of course thinking about our current system I realize that a very large number of students fall between the cracks anyway. In order to do this what would need to take place? What would we end up with? Would we have people with a deep seeded desire for understanding, who are very curious about their world? Could we educate this way with our current set-up (schools divided up by grade and subject) or would a radical change in the organization of education be necessary? My instinct is that the answer to that question is a little of both. We can do some things now with the current system, but more radical change would require a rethinking of the way schools run.
“Holistic experiences that are constructed intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually” Natural education, takes care of this. When you learn something naturally you are not separating out the different types of knowledge. It is instead just an experience which encompasses all four of the characteristics (intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual). Only when we try to over organize education do we start making these distinctions. “Building curriculum solely around subject matter, programs of study, and abstract objectives derived from expert knowledge of the field of music is short-sighted because it fails to take sufficient account of all the ways in which knowledge is socially and individually constructed and of the centrality of teacher-student interaction in the learner’s and teacher’s experience.”
1. Ask questions: questions are essential to teaching in a way the involves the students and lets them use their creativity, insert their personality and point of view into the class. Questions make you think, really think, not just remember.
2. Use problem-based learning: we need to create a need to know through problem-based learning. If students have a need to know they will be inspired to learn in ways that can’t be forced upon them. Everyone has a natural tendency to want to solve problems and education which utilizes this will be more meaningful and long lasting.
3. Think about what and why you are doing what you are doing: We need to be up to date on current thinking in education. We can’t just keep doing what we did when we were younger. It is crucial that we question the why behind what we are doing and not be afraid of change.
4. Think about who are we teaching, amateurs, aficionados and/or professionals: Realizing who is in your class and who we are teaching is important to understand what should be taught. If we recognize that we aren’t just teaching professionals we will reconsider a number of our current practices.
5. Learning musical notation is a means to an ends not an ends: Although standard notation has its place in a music program it isn’t the most important thing we should be teaching. Notation is very useful in certain circumstances, but it isn’t essential to playing or being involved in music. There are many other ways of notating music, and all notation should be taught/learned on a basis of need to know.
6. Narrow the gap between school music and non-school music: School music doesn’t relate to the vast majority of people, so why do we keep perpetuating it? We need to really rethink what kinds of music we are teaching and not use one type exclusively. The 21st century’s music is quite different than music in past generations and music in schools should evolve to reflect those differences. Some of these changes will require open minds and out of the box thinking. If we don’t update our music and make it more relevant in today’s culture I do not think we will be able to continue to defend ourselves as an important subject to be taught in schools.
7. Training vs Education, Label vs Concept, Exposing vs Uncovering: We need to expand our idea of what education is, and our ways of organizing and assessing what should be learned. It may not be possible to boil everything down to a multiple choice test or a number grade, but we need to be okay with that fact. We need to reconsider what we are teaching, how we are teaching it, and how we are using assessment.
8. The debate is more important then the answer/conclusion: Only in schools do we have right and wrong answers. Most real world problems are not black and white and do not have a definitive answer. We need to recognize that fact and educate students in a way that reflect that fact.
Are We Conditioned to Promote the Idea that the Emperor is In Fact Not Naked?
…when he actually is
I wonder what makes us feel so strongly about what is “good music” versus “common music.” We all have our own ideas about what music is of “worth,” but what makes us feel that way, and what makes those decisions correct? Estelle Jorgensen gives an extreme example of Christian missionaries insisting South African children learn hymns rather than traditional Venda music (32). It is easy to see in this example that the music was being imposed on the South African people. What gave the missionaries the right to do that? What makes them feel that their music is superior to the native music? It is easy for me to see in this example that this is a bad thing. Of course we would not want to impose our own idea of “good music” onto another culture, because what gives us that right to decide what is good and what is bad…or do we.
If I take a step back and think about the ways that I think about music, and my beliefs about what is “good music” it is very easy for me to quickly list off a number of “good” composers and a number of “bad” composers. It wouldn’t take much effort to do this, because I have been brought with a tradition of certain music being considered good while other music is considered bad. The entire idea of having classes of music is an elitist construct. Some few people are “in the know” while most are left out. I often wonder do people really think this? Do people really think that certain music is good while other music is bad, or are they just afraid to say anything to the contrary? You are almost bullied into agreement, because if you disagree then that means you don’t get it, you are not one of the elite. I see similarity to the fable “The Emperor’s New Cloths.” Everyone is afraid to point out the fact that they can’t see his cloths, just like everyone is afraid to point out that the way we decide what is good or bad is based on nothing. We are all afraid to do this, because since we “can’t see the Emperor’s cloths” we must be a fool.
Where do these ideas come from? Even in the world of music that is considered more mainstream there is still a class system involved in the music. It comes up when you hear someone describe an artist as “sold out.” In effect because their music is marketed to broad appeal it is not as good as when it was geared toward a more exclusive audience. Is this true? Is it like the saying ”A Jack of all trades, a master of none.” Is it true then when music is tailored to a specific audience it has the ability to be refined to the specific ideals of that audience, but when it is marketed to mass appeal it becomes bland and generic. Is this the same thing that happens with classical music, when targeted at a specific audience the details become important and what makes it a great piece? Are people really noticing these details, or are they just going along with the status quo, agreeing that the Emperor’s new outfit looks very nice.
A democratic society is one run by the people, it is populist. The class system that is attached to music doesn’t seem to be very democratic. Schools are currently perpetuating these ideas, but the cycle needs to be broken. I don’t think that music that is currently viewed as “good” music should be ignored or not given the respect it is due, but other music should not be given a label of “less than.” Music should be studied for what it is, music. Each type of music is an art form all of its own and each art form should be respected. To go back to a wonderment: I wonder what schools (including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, schools of music, conservatories, etc.) would look like if they embraced the idea of incorporating all different types of music as acceptable and worth while art forms.
If-Then: Chapter 6
I was struck by the concept that nothing exists without context, and more specifically by the context that you yourself bring. It is interesting to think that everybody brings a different context and therefore sees the world in a different way. Some of us have similar contexts and other much more different, but we are all unique. On the one hand this seems so vast that it makes trying to understand anything impossible, on the other it frees yourself from trying to see everything the same way as everyone else. I like thinking about it this way, as freeing, because it makes it easier to accept or experience things from other cultures you are not familiar with. You don’t have to be scared that you don’t understand the culture, because there isn’t one right way of experiencing that culture anyway. It also gives you the perspective to understand that your cultural context isn’t the “right way,” just one of billions of ways.
If cultural context varies from one person to person then all my students will have different contexts that they will bring to a class, and these contexts need to be addressed to make the class relevant to each one of the students. Although it isn’t logistically possible totally tailor a class to each and every students particular backgrounds I think we (and by we I mean me) can do a better job of allowing students to make those connections through more open learning environments. If the teacher uses a very executive teaching approach, it doesn’t leave much wiggle room for a student to relate what is going on to their own particular circumstances, however if the teacher uses an approach that more closely resembles the facilitator or even liberationist approach than students contexts can be brought into the learning environment.
On a totally different tangent, I had a little realization today during class about pop music. When someone says pop music I immediately think of music like Justin Bieber, Britney Spears or music by some other “pop star.” However today I made a subtle yet I think important distinction. Pop stands for popular, but there can be a difference between “popular” music and “pop” music. To me popular music is any music that is currently popular with a particular person or group, where pop music is the Bieber’s and Britney’s. We talked today about the difficulty of incorporating some pop music into a band model, because it isn’t true to the context it was originally created for. I’m not trying to say that pop music is good or bad, or better or worse than any other kind of music, but currently it doesn’t fit into the mold that we use in most school music programs. I’m not making the argument whether or not that is right or wrong either. I was confused about how to fit pop music into a context that it wasn’t created for (ie concert bands or orchestras), but then the realization that “pop” could also be “popular.” With this in mind a band could play popular music if it was music that was written for a similar instrumentation (without the problems associated with playing music not intended for a band instrumentation). There are many currently “popular” songs or pieces that could be played by a band. As was mentioned in class many movie scores could be played, I would consider “Stars and Stripes” to potentially be popular music or any music that happens to be into popular culture. This doesn’t address the issue of real “pop” music being left out of schools, but it could be used as a way of bridging the gap between school music and pop music.
If-Then: Chapter 5
After reading about the role of creativity and feeling in music in previous classes, the concept of musical meaning seems to need to fit into the context of creativity and feeling. If music is a way that human knowings can exist, then it is important for us as teachers to inspire students to convey musical meaning through their musical experiences. It seems that students would have to be actively engaged and involved in both a creative and emotional way into the music in order for them to be receptive to the musical meaning. Since as Reimer says “languages a means to enhance musical experience” (133) musical meaning can’t necessarily be summed up in words, although words can help enhance musical meaning.
I worry about teaching in a way that doesn’t inspire students to develop an understanding of musical meaning for themselves. I don’t want students to rely on the teacher (being me) for everything, and not be able to have original or personal opinions and ideas for themselves. Musical meaning is much more personal than the meaning of language, and I fear that students won’t “learn to” or “feel the need to” develop those meanings if they aren’t intrinsically motivated to be involved in music. Incorporating students’ creativity, interests and emotions into class, I believe, would involve students in meaningful ways that would not only inspire students to develop musical meanings, but require them to develop musical meanings. I think it would be impossible to develop personal musical meanings without accessing your creativity and emotions.
All students will have some music that they know which will have some deeper meaning to them. This music may (and most likely) will not be the Grainger played in band, but probably something they have experienced in their personal life. If those experiences can be used as connections to what we are doing in school, and if what we are doing musically in school starts to more closely resemble what is happening outside of school then I think it will more students will relate and be able to have a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the music.
Although language and music are different, Reimer even points out that language can be used to enhance musical meaning. Now that we are coming to the end of our four week class, I am seeing trends and connections in most things we have talked about. Asking questions for example, has been brought up many times, almost everyday, and here again I feel that asking questions becomes important to musical meaning. It seems that posing questions is almost languages role in developing musical meaning. Language can be used to probe deeper into your own and have your students probe deeper into their own thinking and understandings.
If-Then: Chapter 4
Everyone can be creative. I know we had a big discussion about the difference between Creative and creative, but my bottom line feeling is that everyone can be creative. Reimer says that “musical competence is required in order to create.” The question is how do you define competence. I do not totally buy into the big C Creative idea. What resonates with me is little c creativity. I think that everyone has the capability or capacity to be creative. When dealing with creativity in music I feel you can be creative with whatever musical competency you have although when you have greater competency you are less limited and have more freedom to create.
When I think about my past experiences there has been a need to be creative in most of my non-academic life. Whether I was trying to figure out a solution to a problem, I was making something for dinner or I was just trying to create something for fun there has always been a creative need in my life. When I think about my experiences in school I don’t feel there has been much creativity. Even in my school music experiences, there wasn’t much asked of my creative self, just a lot of answers that I was supposed to memorize. I’m left with a feeling of “what a shame” there was so much potential for creativity in school that wasn’t utilized. There is a disconnect between how I think in my personal life (constantly problem solving and using creative processes) vs how I think in the school system (use very simple logic and memorize the “correct” answers). Why is this the case, and why don’t we change it?
If creativity is important and should be encouraged in schools then I need to make sure I am allowing opportunities for my students to be creative and also helping them explore different ways of being creative. Reimer suggests that you can be creative in performing, composing, improvising and listening. Since I believe everyone can be creative, everyone should be given these opportunity to be creative.
I think that creativity lives in the space between the lines. When you are trying to figure something out you are forced to be creative. With performance I have to uncover the problems that exist in the music. I can convey the idea that there isn’t one correct way to play a piece, and that the student has to figure out how they would like to play it. This creates a problem that needs to be solved, and also room for the student to use their creativity to make decisions. This creates a new problem which is what if the student doesn’t have the necessary musical competency to execute his/her creative decisions. I see this as a great problem to have. Again it gives the student a problem that they have to solve, and it creates a reason for why you would want to increase your musical competency. It isn’t “practice because I say to” but “I want to practice so I can actualize my creative decisions.” I don’t want to stifle their creativity by not giving them the chance to be creative, but more than that I would like to encourage them to be creative. I know that I am the person who can most easily encourage or stand in the way of my their musical creativity, and I hope that I am able to encourage it.
This is an interview with Lynda Barry talking about her book about creative writing. She doesn’t talk about creative writing too much, just the act of being creative. It is a little long, but I think she says some really interesting things.
(If you are having trouble getting the interview to play from here you can click the link to play it from NPR’s site. NPR interview with Lynda Barry)
Issues Blog - Janet Barrett
A journey not an itinerary - Constructing the curriculum not delivering it
These two ideas of curriculum really helps me understand the difference between a modernist and a postmodernist view of education. An itinerary is just a list of places to go and things to see, while a journey is filled with all the experiences you have along the way. If you think about what you are left with after a trip, an itinerary will never be more than the sum of its parts, while a journey becomes much more based on all the experiences that bring meaning and life to what you have done. I like this concept and it helps me see curriculum in a new light. I also like the idea of constructing and not delivering a curriculum. I see constructing and delivering as opposites. One (delivering) begins with the teacher having a piece of paper with all the answers on it and one by one transferring those answers to the students. The other (constructing) begins with a blank piece of paper and over the course of the year the students work with the teacher to fill the paper with everything they have discovered.
I can see how you could have very different classes both based on the same curriculum. It is all in how the documents are used. I know that I have been guilty of delivering content more than I should, but reading this article helps me understand the importance of taking the extra step to figure out how to do more with the lesson. Delivering content is so cut and dry, so easy to understand I often fall back on it, because I know how to do it. I am not as familiar with constructing a curriculum and it takes more time, effort, more trial and error to get it right. However I want to be the type of teacher that puts in the time and effort to figure those things out. If it means that I am going to be a more effective teacher, than it would be worth the extra time and effort. Eventually I would expand my comfort zone to include teaching in this way.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box
Reading about Nick White changing up the traditional rehearsal model all on his own almost makes me feel like a weight has been lifted of my chest. As we talk in class about all the great things that teachers can do I am always left with a little bird on my shoulder saying “yeah, but how are you going to do that.” After reading this article it makes me realize that there is so much you can do if you aren’t afraid to think outside the box. Nick White didn’t have to totally redo the schools schedule or change the entire structure of the music program, all he had to do was be a little flexible with his own class period. There is so much you can do that has never been done before, the only thing stopping you is the limit of your own creativity. It sounds stupid, so simple, just change a couple rehearsals a week into something else, but I hadn’t thought of it. It reminds me of those little simple inventions that people get rich on, and you think….”it seems so obvious, I could have come up with that,” but you didn’t. You didn’t think of it because it had never been done before, but as soon as it was created it seems so obvious. I wonder how many things like that are available in music education. Things that are simple easy fixes, but no one has thought of because they have never been done before.
I want to take a second and try to put these two ideas together. The idea of constructing a curriculum/treating it like a journey and the idea of thinking outside the box. To me constructing the curriculum is the “what,” and thinking outside the box is the “how.” As I said before I always get bogged down in the “how.” The concept of thinking outside the box doesn’t answer the question of how you are going to do something, but it gives me the idea that there is a solution out there, it just hasn’t been thought of yet. There is an infinite number of possibilities for how you can do something. This gives me enough relief from the nagging question of “how” that I can really focus on the issue of “what” without being distracted. At this moment the for me the “what” is: teaching in a way that gives students a collection of experiences that they find meaningful. Teaching in a way that allows students to explore through problem solving what is important, what they want to know, and what they want to understand.
If-Then: Chapter 3
One critical idea that I have taken away from chapter 3 is the idea that feelings and emotions are part of creativity. I have never really thought of it that way before, but after our discussions it makes sense. In order to be creative you need to tap into an emotional side of yourself where imagination and brainstorming live. I have been thinking about how education has changed and needs to change and this idea of creativity seems to be more important now then ever before. In the past we didn’t have the kind of technology we have now, and it was more important to memorize certain things since looking it up may have been near impossible. In today’s world we could still just memorize, but would that be the best use of our time? If I spend 20 years memorizing all the worlds information and you spend 20 years developing an understandings about how to use and think about that information (even though you may need to look most of it up) who has spent their time better?
The thing that really cements this as an important issue is looking at the types of jobs that are currently availably in the US. We used to have factory jobs where you could earn a good living while having to do repetative memorization type tasks. However those jobs are being sent overseas, or being done by a computer/robot. We don’t need people to do something that we can program a robot to do. Computers are better at memorization, and repetatve tasks. Humans don’t seem to be built for that, we are better at improvising, feeling and creating. We haven’t been able to build a computer to feel yet, just memorize. We need to be educating our students to think and feel, because that is what is needed in today’s world. More and more we are using computers to do the remembering while we do the thinking.
While thinking and feeling seem to be even more important in today’s world the practices in many of our school would suggest the opposite. We seem to be doing more memorization preparing for the ever growing number of standardized tests. This leads me to the implications of all of this on the music classroom. The thing that gets me the most excited about teaching is the fact that I actually have the ability to do these things that I feel are so important. I don’t have any standardized tests to worry about, I don’t really have too many people breathing down my neck and telling me what to do, for better or worse I have a good deal of freedom to do what I want in my classroom. I am reminded of the Spiderman Movie…”with great power come great responsibility.” I feel so strongly that this is the type of education I want to provide, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t think I have done it very well to date.
So lets make a new plan going forward. What am I going to do to try and bring emotion, feeling, thinking, creativity and imagination into my classroom? I want to start by giving the power to the students. I want to get them to understand that they are in charge of their learning and hopefully in doing so they will take ownership for their learning. One broad goal would be that students would be asked to actually use their brains to think in a way other than pure recall of information. I am going to do this by stepping off the podium and getting students involved in the creative process of developing a piece. I want them to come up with solutions to the problems we are facing, starting with: what do we need to do? how are we going to learn this? Maybe even dive into: why should we learn this? I am going to work hard to establish an environment where students feel open to expressing and feeling without fear of being made fun of. At first there may be students who don’t want to be forced to use their brains and may just want the info given to them, but deep down I feel like if I can do it the right way students will figure out that it is a great thing to be able to think and express and they will develop an excitement toward creative and expressive thinking.
I know it is going to take a lot of trail and error on my end to be able to effectively teach this way, but I am committed to trying to figure it out.
Issues Blog - John Kratus
This statement says it all: “a tipping point has been reached for the viability of music education” (Kratus 43). This article confirms many of my suspicions about the realities of music education and how it is loosing its ability to remain relevant in today’s schools. I do not believe it is true that music is becoming irrelevant, as it was stated in the article young teens listen to an average of 2-4 hours of music a day. Music is alive and well. Music is everywhere, especially today, but our school music programs don’t reflect the music realities of today. One of the major concerns of music teachers I have met is advocacy. I have heard many times about the need for us to defend ourselves and to stand up and profess why we are important, but I am always left with an uncomfortable feeling of “are we?” Don’t get me wrong I strongly believe in music education, and the importance of music education. I strongly believe in the importance of music in a persons life, but is that what we are defending by defending the current state of music education? If we aren’t relevant in today’s world then how can we defend ourselves as important?
Kratus talks about how Latin is no longer taught because it was deemed irrelevant in today’s world. Are we going to go down that same road, not because music is irrelevant, but because the way we are teaching music has become irrelevant? To me the issue of advocacy begins with making sure you have something worthy of advocating for…making sure your house is in order. Often I don’t feel like advocating for our current system of music education. However I am all for advocating for a new more relevant approach to music education.
Okay, okay…so what? I am always left with this question. I believe in the changes that need to take place, but then what. Do I take on the department and try to force chance from a top-down approach, or do I make small incremental changes within my own area to slowly move down the road toward innovation?
What types of incremental changes could you make to start to break down the barrier between “school” and “out of school” music?
According to Kratus our curriculum needs change to reflect the ways that people actually experience music in their lives (45). In my quest to accomplish this I have thought about these two questions:
- How do students interact with music on a daily basis?
- How will music be a part of a student’s life after they graduate from school?
After thinking about these two questions I have reformed how I think about the change that needs to take place into this question:
- What changes can be made to a music program which will mold it into a program that guides students toward a deeper involvement and understanding in music relevant to their lives, and encourage them to continue their involvement in music as a life long pursuit?
I’m not sure if this totally sums up the changes that need to take place, or if it is even correct, but I’m trying to figure out how to help promote the necessary changes that need to take place. If it is possible to alter the path of music education, and rethink the purpose of music education I believe we will be able to tip the scale back. My gut tells me we have been advocating for the wrong things, and it has gotten us into trouble. I don’t think it is too late for music education to reinvent itself, but I hope that we have enough of the “mavens” Kratus talks about to get the ball rolling.
Chapter 9 Reflection Blog
The first thing I want to say about chapter 9 is it was way less radical than chapter 8. The second thing I would like to say about chapter 9 is it was way more radical than chapter 8.
On the one hand Reimer doesn’t really call for too many radical changes to the way that performance electives work. I wasn’t expecting that. After reading chapter 8 I thought he was going to rip apart the performing electives and totally change everything about them. Instead he just has some more subtle although significant adjustments. When I read this I thought “wow, this isn’t that far from where we currently are.” However, coupled with this is the idea that we would add many elective to add to the experiences we currently offer. Still I don’t think this is that radical, until you realize that he means really add electives, not just throw in a class taught by the orchestra teacher, but actually add a concentration including new teacher prep programs for those areas, and everything that goes along with a new concentration. This to me is now a radical idea.
I understand and agree with Reimer, because this approach would continue to support music in more peoples lives in more meaningful ways, however it does create more questions than I can sweep under the rug and just say “well we’ll figure that out later.”
First, chicken or the egg, where do the teachers come from who are going to teach these electives that have never existed before? How do we go about getting schools to support this kind of change which would require significant investment? What do we do in the mean time, these classes aren’t going to magically appear tomorrow. Even if the stars aligned it would be a while before things were up and running. In most cases the only music teachers are the ones teaching performing groups. Does the responsibility fall on them to fill in the gap (teaching these classes) until a better system is ready to take over? Again these questions don’t discourage me. I do feel a sense of excitement for what could be, but it seems these changes will be more difficult to implement.
There is one more thing I would like to quickly mention. I am very happy to read Reimer talk about opening up the confines of what a performing group can be. I have struggled with my own teaching trying to make band relevant to students lives. I have been brought up to think that there is only one way to do band which is with the western model. I have never really believed this, but it is still has a hold on me. After reading these chapters it gives me a little bit of support. It encourages me to think more openly about what band should or could be (when I thought about these things in the past I have felt guilty like I was committing a crime). I feel strongly that the traditions of what band has been are important and should not be ignored, but I can’t go on ignoring everything else that is happening musically in the world just to support a traditional band model. I am sure there are elements of contemporary music which can be brought into the band program…as Reimer kept talking about with various things -were not replacing what we have just to adding to it.
How far is too far? How much change is too much or too little… I don’t know, but I now feel like I can think about these things and not feel like I am totally crazy for thinking this way.
Baby robin that landed on my table while I was reading chapter 9
Chapter 8 Reflection Blog
This chapter really spoke to me and to what the current version of my beliefs are. It was mentioned in class that when reading different sections of Reimer it will either repulse or resonate with you, and this chapter really resonated with me.
The idea that I found particularly important was his thoughts about working through the issue of who are we teaching, as Reimer puts it the professional, the amateur, or the aficionado. For a long time I have thought about this question, and I always struggled to come up with an answer. I was always trying to choose one of the groups (although I didn’t give them the same names as Reimer). Do we tailor the program around the couple students who may go on into music, that seems silly, to spend so much time and money on such a small percentage of students…that can’t be right. Do we tailor the program around the students who are involved in music but may not go on into music after school…that seems wrong too, because then we are not challenging the students who have risen to the top. After reading this chapter I see that it isn’t really a choice that needs to be made. A music program can be put into place that lets all the students be successful no matter what “musical role” they decide to play.
I am always left with an uncomfortable feeling when I think about how the music program doesn’t seem to really be in line with what today’s society wants or needs. The fact that we really end up teaching such a small percentage of the student body, and of those students very few of them continue participating in music (at least in the ways that they were “taught” to participate). This leaves me with a feeling in my gut that says something isn’t right. The real problem is that even though I know something isn’t right I have trouble articulating just what is wrong or just how to fix it. Reading this chapter doesn’t answer all my questions (in some ways it creates more questions), but it does clarify some of the biggest gaps in my understanding of how to improve music education in public schools.
I love the idea of having a music class that by design is meant to be relevant to all the students in the class. Not just the ones who are in band, not just the ones who seem to have a natural interest in music, but for everyone. This resolves much of my uneasiness about our current form of music education. We always talk about music being something that all humans have in common, yet instead of treating music as this inclusive thing that everyone can relate to we start excluding people from music and treating it like it is only for the most devoted and talented students. I don’t understand this thinking…everyone listens to music almost everyday, music is not elite, unless we make it elite.
I am excited about the possibilities that this style of music education could lead to. It has the potential to more meaningfully reach a much larger number of students which is seems is something that all education strives for. I have many questions about the specifics of this would be implemented, especially in the beginning. How do we start? Do we all have to make the change together? Can we take incremental steps or do we need to make some big leaps? Do we need support from non-music faculty and administration or can we move toward this on our own? ….and on and on and on my questions go, but I am not worried because of my questions I am excited because of the possibilities.