Chapters 8 and 9 discuss the revamping of the goals of general music and specialized programs. I really enjoyed these chapters because I do see how general music students are almost labeled “the kids who didn’t choose an instrument”. This is obviously inappropriate and shouldn’t be looked at in this way. Reimer restructures the U.S. National Standards for Music Education by looking at the Musical Intelligences, under Musicianship Roles and Listenership Roles. Not all students are performance bound and therefore should not be taught or forced to be that way. When I first started teaching, I would be so frustrated with the lack of students participating in instrumental versus general music, especially when I found out there were kids in general music who played guitar or piano. For some reason, they preferred to stay out of the instrumental programs.
I like the quote about the goal of general music from Reimer, “Such an education provides access to and the ability to take full advantage of all the important ways their culture provides for making and sharing musical meanings by the ways the culture operationalizes its musical values”. (Reimer p. 252) The word “ways” really identifies that there isn’t just one way, (to play an instrument) that there are several capacities for someone to be involved with music. As music educators, every year we are dealt a totally different group of students from the last. Of those students, some may be listeners, critics, arrangers, performers, etc.
In chapter 9, Reimer identifies the restructuring of the specialized music program. Seeing the circle diagram of the professionals, aficionados, and amateurs really made a huge difference in the way I look at my students and made me feel more relaxed at accepting that not all students will ever be at the same level and that there will be a variation. The section on “listening” really struck me because it seems like the most left out area in music, but is probably the most essential. Especially when we think of people who learn by ear and can play amazing. There is something to be said for that. This fall, I plan to do more with listening at all levels I teach and perhaps even encourage a student to teach a tune to the class as well, by listening.
After reading Jorgensen, I selected a quote about music being alive and how music makes people feel alive. To choose one thing that has resonated with me from this entire class is difficult to do, except to see a connection of everything making a full circle around music and that music is essential in life. Music is always alive, thriving, and will never go away. We use it in many everyday activities, whether in the car from a radio, or at a wedding ceremony. Movies have soundtracks that correlate with the stories being shared. Creativity is an essential skill and as we learned in our class, less and less students are creative anywhere else in the school day, and music is a place where we can let it happen. Another huge take away from our class is to question students more, and to make connections with our music. If I ask myself why I like a certain piece of music, it is because I made a connection with the piece. In turn, I need to ask my students the same question and make some connections. Again, there is so much I learned in this class, that I know I will revisit the blogs, texts and class notes for years to come.
I believe music education is essential to all walks of life and should not be limited due to the economy, location, or level of education. All people, big and small, can be future conductors, musicians, listeners, and benefit from music for a lifetime. Everyone deserves a chance and has potential for many levels of music.
I believe music is found in all cultures and we can all learn from these cultures while embracing diversity. Music is a commutative tool that allows us to speak with music, which words cannot. Music touches people’s souls and makes connections like no other.
I believe music and education is ever-changing and as music educators, we need to utilize technology while making connections with the past influences. All educators need professional development in order to stay fresh and keep up with society. Sometimes students will know more, and that’s okay because we want them to be able to teach others.
I believe education is not just about teaching, it’s about creating lifelong learners and independent human beings. We are responsible for shaping our future generations through music and education.
Breaking Down the Barrier
“Transforming music education affirms the contributions of women and men, boys, and girls, in all areas of musical and music educational life, regardless of gender. It is devoted to breaking down barriers of gender that prevent some from reaching the potential they might otherwise attain, thereby enriching and celebrating the musical gifts and experiences of all members of society”.
(Jorgensen, p. 140)
When I first read this quote, all I could picture was an actual wall, like the Berlin Wall. The feeling of freedom when it came down must have been immeasurable. The description in Jorgensen’s quote is truly the image of many students/people in society today. I wonder what the schools and the world would be like if we offered the opportunity to everyone, equally? As a music educator to beginners, I do provide school loaned instruments, but then I also ask families who can rent, to do so, in order to allow for families who cannot, to use the loaners. Luckily, I have always had just enough instruments to rent and I have never had to turn away any students because of not having enough instruments available. I truly believe that all students have the potential to learn an instrument. It just depends on how much he/she really wants to learn.
In my classroom, I want to help break down, or prevent them from being built up, any walls. Sometimes, those walls may exist beyond my control though; perhaps in the home. I find sometimes that parents will make the decision for the student, when in fact, the student wishes to continue if he/she had the choice. I would also like to take it a step further and share with students that anything is possible and that nothing is too unattainable. For example, if a student wishes to form a rock band … it is conceivable. Providing the opportunities and guiding our students, as music educators, is part of our job, especially if we want the students to be lifelong learners. Once they leave us, whatever we instilled in them must carry on, and this is the true mark of a great music educator.
However, I do believe that students may not travel down the path of a playing musician, but may be a listener or have their own children one day, and they encourage to play an instrument. This is passing on the idea of preventing any barriers from being built up. Students can use music as an outlet, a safe outlet and for the rest of their lives. This will only be successful if the barriers are gone, and there is freedom.
“Music education comes alive when it is experienced holistically. It comes alive when its educational aims are spiritual as well as material: when its participants celebrate the present, transcend past practice, and come to love wisdom; and when duty, reverence, and integrity are central to the educational and musical enterprise. It comes alive when learners view knowledge as relevant to their lives; within their powers to grasp; challenging, inspiring, and encouraging them to move beyond past attitudes, abilities and attainments”. (Jorgensen, p. 125)
As a musician and music educator, there are several times, more than I can count, I have felt “alive” and I truly believe this is what inspires me to continue in my profession and to share my enthusiasm with others. I wonder if there was a way to have a sharing time in my class for students to bring in what makes them feel “alive”? As the facilitator, I will ask my students this question and with their answers, they will help to open doors and share their interests with others. I want my classroom to feel alive once one enters the room.I never asked myself why I love music before. I think it is because I feel a connection and the words or tune touch me in a way like no other. When I was in middle school and high school, I can distinctly remember listening to my cds and tapes all the time. I used to say that I wished I could create a soundtrack of all the music I listened to, and then … years later, the mp3 players were invented! Music has always played a huge part in my life, whether my family was on a road trip, or having a party at our house, we always had music playing. It is one thing to play an instrument, but to possess the patience to share and teach it with others is another. As a child, I would play “teacher” in our shed that had a chalk board and create my own report cards. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, I just didn’t realize a music teacher. It wasn’t until my later years, that I “wondered” if I could be a good music teacher, and better yet, a string teacher. My “wonderment” guided me to where I am today and I am so thankful for it. Jorgensen says, ”It comes alive when learners view knowledge as relevant to their lives”. I strive for my students to make connections and will more now that I have taken this Philosophies and Issues in Music Education. I believe that feeling alive is what draws people to the music, whether you are a listener, player, etc. Music is constantly evolving and because of that, the interest of people is always there. Music is “Alive” and always will be without a doubt.
Reimer says, “Music, in its uniqueness, contributes its own affects and meanings through its specific qualities- its meaningfully organized sounds. Music does this in all cultures, thereby contributing to making each culture what it is, just as each culture contributes to the shaping of what its music turns out to be”. This quote stuck out for me because it really helped draw a picture for me about what makes music specific to certain cultures … identification of certain sounds, instruments, etc. When he talks about the music from New Guinea, they create sounds from their surroundings in their music. It was very interesting to hear the recordings during our class discussion last week and a nice touch to share with the class. I have always thought of myself as a “cultured” person because I like to explore new foods, music, places, people, etc. I truly believe the more a human does those things, the more well-rounded he/she becomes. Otherwise, the person is limiting the opportunities, choosing a narrow path and ultimately living a pretty boring life! It is our job as music educators to share as much as we can with students about the different genres/cultures out there in the world. Luckily, with today’s technologies, we have the ability to search for a particular culture and reference it for our classes to discover yet another “facet” of music. If we continue to open doors for our students year after year, then our students will be more educated and open doors for themselves as our future generations to come. There are people out there who aren’t multicultural and I truly believe they are missing out on a huge part of being alive. That’s actually a good way of putting it, because when I learn something new about a culture, whether it’s a new food, new music, or clothing, I feel more ALIVE. I know that I may not be to completely understand all music, but I can appreciate it and perhaps it will strike me in a way that makes me “feel” something. I mentioned this in class, that I LOVE the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire. I may not understand everything, but I like the sounds and can remember the scenes that were happening during the songs that really touched me. I hope to continue in my teaching the exploration of different cultures and embracing them for the differences and similarities. And hopefully, this will pass on to my students too.
This film was made in 1982 … and I can still remember it being on a VHS at our house. Something my dad taped from our library I believe and shared with us as very young children. The music and images still resonate with me today and I couldn’t help but think of it while reading our chapters in Reimer and our discussions. If you have some time, I highly suggest watching it.
The meaning of music … again, another great two days of discussion in class! It is amazing how even though we are all very educated in the field of music, it is difficult to give a simple answer as to what is the meaning of music. There are so many answers and depending on your own background and knowledge, can you “get it”. Another thought that came to mind for me today while reading, was that there are different types of musicians out there, yet they all play music. What I mean is that you can have someone who is a “reader” of music and then a “non-reader”, plays by ear musician … yet both are amazing at what they do, but they achieve this by different means. So, what does that mean? I am not sure if I can put my finger on it, but I do think it is amazing!
On p. 152, Reimer says, “The arts can be described as all the ways and means people have contrived to organize materials to produce meanings inherent within the materials and their organization”. As a musician and teacher, I want to find meaning in what I play and teach because it makes it more “meaningful”. I want my students to make connections to the music in some shape or form. Perhaps he/she whistle the tune while they are doing homework and catch themselves loving the song or they hear it in a store and it puts a smile on his/her face. A wonderful thing that has happened several times, is that students have a favorite song in the beginning of the year, and then over time, it changes and they like the song that wasn’t a favorite. I believe this comes from the time it took for the students to make a connection. We can “like” a song because of the sounds or instrumentation, but once we make a connection by learning about the composer or really knowing the lyrics or have it attached to an event like a wedding/funeral/party, etc. it “means” so much more! I would like to pose the question throughout the school year of “what does music mean to me”? I believe (and we have said this in class) if we discuss what a particular piece means to our students/school, then more connections they will made. My goal is to have more discussion and reflection on what interests my students have about music. And, not only about what we are playing, but what they are listening to at home. Not everyone is friends with everyone in the orchestras I have, so it might be a nice social activity to make connections. As the music teacher, without helping it, I will guide my students to making those connections and by making the connections, it will bring meaning to why we are playing/studying a particular piece, rather than it was “in the nyssma manual”.
There were so many great conversations in today’s class about this chapter. One specific point made is that even as a music teacher and a musician, I never thought of listening to be “creative”. I think a lot of the time, I think of improvisation and disregard listening as a factor. I liked the questions by Reimer on p. 108, “What is a person doing when being creative? And, given that being creative can occur in just about everything humans do, what makes creativity “artistic”“? This really struck me because we keep bringing up the same answer which points to the cultural side of things and experience. I might think you are creative based on my experiences, but others may not view it that same way. This seems to be a frustrating area … it is somewhat of a broad term because it is interpreted differently depending on the context, culture, etc. I also mentioned earlier about improvisation being related to strategy and we discussed that we use strategy to improvise. This makes sense because if we learn what didn’t work the first time, we’ll try something different. As a music educator, I have the ability to allow creativity in my classroom, and I must encourage it! As in the Ken Robinson video, he talks about kids not being as creative because education is killing it …why not provide them with a music class where they can create and open their minds? I think the ARTS is the only way … we can save the young minds of our future generations. And this doesn’t mean the students have to be prodigies!
I am running into the same issue as before, that I am missing the opportunity to ask questions and have the students listen in class as opposed to playing instruments. I am setting another goal for myself and my orchestra students to listen more!! Listening is just as important as playing! I really liked the facet model introduced today and adding the question of “and why do you feel that way”? (Brianne :) If I can somehow build it into my daily/weekly routine, I can’t see how it won’t be beneficial. I could use it as an exit slip, or entrance, a sharing activity. I don’t think their other classes ask these types of questions, “What is being expressed”. From what I gather (and this is what makes music unique), students just do what they are supposed to do because they have to …in music we can ask questions that will allow the students to make a connection to their everyday life. This could be the difference between an effective teacher and a non-effective teacher.
The more we ask our students questions about creativity, hopefully the more meaning they will find from making music. This will, in turn, have them think about what is being played and why they perhaps enjoy it? We want our students to make choices based on a solid foundation, so why not provide them with questions to answer in order to guide them in that direction …towards building a foundation. Sadly, students will sometimes only like something because their friends do … I want to help those students develop a higher level of self confidence and choose what they like for valid reasons!
For those of you who are not familiar with John Cage’s 4’33”