Music is a Part of Basic Education

 

 

 In this course I have learned the value of music education. I would like to share the philosophy of why I believe we should make music a part of our basic education. This paper also includes a journey and reflection into my own childhood experiences.  It also attempts to explain that by teaching, it has helped with the process of those experiences.  This paper will also be given to my principal and colleagues to inspire the realizations I have made through the Creative Arts Program at Lesley University.

What scholars are beginning to understand is that a personal involvement with music is leading to higher academic success. Joan Schmidt, a member of the Board of Directors of the National School Board Association, states that listening to music, and mastering its theory and practice, is linked to richer synaptic development and high-test scores across the academic curriculum (Schmidt, 2001). School music education is the key to these benefits. In too many schools, music is now considered an optional or elective course. If music is a key to better reasoning ability, better math scores, and a deeper understanding of science, it is dangerous to let our kids miss out on it.               

That is why music should be a part of each student’s day, not as an elective but as a part of the core curriculum. I know that to make this happen is a challenge budgetary and politically, but we need to make people understand what is at stake. We have placed so much emphasis on test score for reading, writing, and arithmetic that we have forgotten how to appreciate a well-rounded education. We need to educate the parents of our children that music education is equally important to reading, writing, and arithmetic.

President Ronald Reagan said, “Civilizations are most remembered for their art and thought.” He went on to say “I have always believed in the definition of an educated man or women as one who could, if necessary, rebound his or her civilization. That means we must teach our students more than hard facts or floppy disks. We must teach them the rich artistic inheritance of our culture and an appreciation of how fine music enriches both the students who study it, and the society that produces it…The existence of strong music and fine arts curricula are important to keeping the humanities truly humanizing and liberal arts education, truly liberation." (Thomas, 2001, p.2).

Here are some reasons why music should be a part of basic education: The College Board Report “Academic Proportion for College” includes the arts as one of the six basics to be included in the school curriculum. Also, Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence” states that there are eight forms of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. None of these ought to have priority over others (2001, p.2). 

            Through music, people find a way that cuts across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers. This in turn enables people to form a natural awareness and appreciation of music. Gallas (1991) states that “each group brings a wide range of life experiences to school, though we are often initially separated by language, cultural, and racial barriers, {he has} learned that music, rather than labeling our differences, enables us to celebrate them.” (p.52). Music gives students the opportunity to express and communicate their ideas in different ways. With the diversity in classrooms today music gives students the opportunity to find meaning to their cultural heritage. It also provides an atmosphere where students take an active role in learning from one another. Music can build a foundation with multicultural students to raise their self-esteem and make learning more enjoyable. “Music is a perfect vehicle for multicultural education; they can transform the tone of a classroom or a whole school while creating a peaceful, pluralistic society.” (Powell, 1997, p. 135). 

            This makes teaching so rewarding because music does not judge student’s abilities. In a classroom that is so diverse, students have the opportunity express themselves creatively.  “Music make it possible for all children, regardless of they differences, to be successful. Knowing that music is an integral part of every ritual, and every culture, and that it represent forms that humans have created to express their feeling, their visions, their aspiration, and their values we will create an environment that will be rich with student’s expression.” (Eisner, 1998, p.139).

One of the most important things I learned from this music workshop is that music is not just singing. Every child has the opportunity to be successful musically even if they can not hum a tune. I want my students to appreciate all types of music. I plan on doing this through exposing them to different artists, through different sounds, beats, and tones. I want to teach them how to build instruments, and become a conductor. I can do all of this without changing my curriculum. Whatever we are studying I can incorporate music easily. For example, when studying South America we can make instruments that have to do with that culture, we can learn dances, and just listen to their music. If we teach children to appreciate different types of music and sounds, we are teaching them to accept differences. Also, it makes learning a lot more fun when you are actively involved in the process.   That is important.

            Here is my personal experience and what I’ve learned through being an educator.  When I was in fifth grade, I stood before my classmates to perform a solo composition on my flute.   With shaky fingers and a dry mouth I prepared to blow.. The music teacher, Mr. Yagge, raises his baton and begins to tap; one, two, three, one, two… I blew into my flute and my mind drifted away to a place where I had been practicing my composition without missing a beat. However, The laughing of my classmates brought me out of my daydream and back to reality of my embarrassing musical experience. I missed the notes completely, and not matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get any sound to come out of the instrument I dearly loved.  I soon gave up the flute and turned to more of an athletic approach.

            From that day forward, I hated most things to do with music.  I looked at my peers that played band as being uncool.  Instead, I became a sports fanatic and spent the rest of my years becoming a basketball player.  So when I was researching the graduate courses at Lesley University I almost overlooked the creative arts program.  There was no way I really wanted anything to do with music on an instructional level.  However I realized with all of my musical obsessions and concert journeys, I was more drawn to music than anyone I know. Than what was the problem?  How could I not see the connection with the love of teaching and the love for music? 

            In my short time in this program I have learned so much about myself, and why it is so important to have the music in education.  Teaching is a constant struggle to capture the attention of an audience, to transfer information to create meaning.  Music education is different today than it was in when I was younger.  We no longer value the students artistic abilities on whether they can perform “Mary had a Little Lamb” on a musical instrument.  We live in a world that encompasses many cultures, languages, abilities, and learning styles.  Through practice and participation I now consciously try to incorporate music into my classroom.  I have seen a difference in my students’ participation, and classroom behavior.  With so many ability levels in my classroom, music has given my students an opportunity to be successful.  When they see me participate in a music activity, they are able to understand that I am no famous musician.  But the process that we go through, when doing a music activity, is so valuable that it makes the product not seem as important.  It is incredible to know that we, the students and I, are learning together.  My goal is to incorporate music as much as possible in my curriculum. 

            Because White Center Heights is a school with a highly diverse population, music has been a nice way to bring my class together.  They became unified with the lessons and projects we did and were able to appreciate sound and the ability to fin it in nature.  I became a language that we all spoke despite the various ethnicity and language differences.

            This class was a musical inspiration for me.  My only background with music was my above experience, turning on my radio dial to find a song that I liked, and going to concerts.  I have always been a part of the audience, and now I find that I’m enjoying the sense of being a conductor and a performer.  I have recently been given a guitar and eventually want to take lessons.  I’m so excited because I’ve wanted to play the guitar all of my life! 

.           Music education can be adapted to any curriculum. Music encourages teamwork and cohesiveness. It fosters creativity and individuality. Music also contributes to self-expression and creativity. Most important to students, it makes the day more alive and interesting, which in turn leads to more learning.

My goal is to continue to educate my students in music, and have them gain an appreciation for it. This class has be a valuable experience for both my students and myself.  The Camp Waskowitz experiences seemed more relevant and meaningful because of our experiences with sound and nature. I hope to be able to continue this enrichment in the future!

 

Bibliography

Eisner, E. W. (1998). What the arts taught me about education. In Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum, pp.23-35. Wolburn, MA:: Book Tech.

 

Gallas, K. (1991) Arts as epistemology: Enabling children to know what they know. In Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum, pp. 51-67. Wolburn, MA: Book Tech.

 

Powell, M.C. (1997). The arts in the inner lives of teachers. In Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum, pp. 135-138.  Wolburn, MA: Book Tech.

 

Schmidt, J. (2001). Music Makes a Difference. [On-line]. 3 pages. Available: http://www.amcmusic.com/os/schmidt.html. [2001, April18}. 

 

Thomas, D. (2001). The Importance of Music Education. [On-line]. 5 pages. Available: http://www.s-v.frnkln.k12.il.us/band/musiced.htm. [2001,April18].