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Daniel Kilbury

Philosophy-Encouraging an Understanding
Music has always been one of the most significant inspirations in my life. As a future
music educator, my goal is to be that inspiration for others. I wish to create an environment in
which students can find solace through both their music and the way they are treated. I believe
that students should have a learning environment that encourages them to be creative in the ways
they understand and interpret music. An environment where they can feel welcome among their
classmates and instructor no matter what, so that they may be allowed to fully express
themselves and understand the many stories that music can tell. My ultimate goal (which my
philosophy is built upon) as a music educator is to provide an encouraging environment in which
understanding is central to the learning experience so that students may create and develop their
own personal understanding of music. I wish to encourage all of my students through nondiscriminatory expectations so that they may find this understanding of music that will allow
them to embark on the many musical journeys I was fortunate enough to enjoy as a student.
My philosophy begins with the end in mind. My goal is for my students to have an
understanding of the music they are playing. For example, I believe they should be asking
themselves what the piece means, the history behind it, and how they can portray its meaning
through their performance. All music has a story and I want my students to understand that story
and its ultimate message. Many programs today seem to forfeit such concepts in preparation for
concerts, competitions, etc. For example, in Matthew Thibeaults article about the high-stakes
concert, he compares such events to standardized tests. He mentions that such tests
(concerts/competitions in this case) can limit what is taught and that this has a negative impact
on student learning in the classroom. In Thibeaults experience, a curriculum that once
included the meaning of song lyrics and the history of the songs was surrendered for one focused
solely on memorization, giving the illusion that the students learned something. I believe that
my students should genuinely understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. That is
where the real knowledge lies; not in the scores or ratings. In the words of Elliot Eisner, Not
everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that is measured matters.
So how might we achieve these goals and bring about the change that Thibeault and
Eisner write about? I believe that having a clear, defined goal for ones program is essential to
solving this issue. This goal can help bring about expectations for the students in terms of
behavior and performance, and I wish to use the power of these expectations to my advantage to
achieve my goal and to help bring about the best learning experience for my students.
Expectations have a strong foothold in education and can affect the way students behave and
perform. According to, there is a growing body of research that suggests that the
expectations teachers set for individuals can significantly affect the students performance. As
people, we have an inclination to do what others (especially authority figures) expect of us. In
psychology, this is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, when someone sets
expectations for a certain event or person, those expectations are more likely to come to fruition.
For example, treating a student as having less musicianship than others may lead them to believe
so and act as such. Often times, however, teachers set these inappropriate expectations for
students based on their race, social class, musicianship, etc.
I think that it is a key role of the teacher to see that this does not happen, as it can impede
greatly upon the overall achievement of the students. In fact, studies show that negative
expectations set by teachers account for 5-10% of the variance in student achievement. With
that being said, I need to be aware and cautious of this and set appropriate expectations for all of
my students. In order to achieve my goal of an understanding of music, I plan to use the power

Daniel Kilbury
of expectations in my curriculum. I believe that instead of looking at certain behaviors
negatively, we should explore more positive perspectives. If a teacher sets a negative
expectation for a student (i.e. You are such a trouble-maker.), that student may begin to
believe it and act that way, which will negatively affect their education and the overall success of
the program. If a teacher sets positive expectations for the student(s), however, it can lead them
to act positively which will help the student and the overall program succeed. For example,
instead of expecting a loud and energetic student to be a disruption, perhaps we can expect
them to be a leader and use their outgoing personality to lead their peers to a further
understanding of what they are working on. By setting these positive expectations, I wish to
create the learning environment mentioned earlier, where students are encouraged to express
themselves and understand the music they play and perform. Through the power of expectations
and encouragement, I plan to help my students understand what they are doing.
I believe that music education should go beyond just playing music and the
stereotypical expectations that some teachers have of their students, as it is much more than that.
As a future educator, I have the opportunity to inspire students to go beyond playing their
instruments. I do not want my students to simply do the music, as there is no value in doing
without understanding. I want my students to know what they are doing and why they are doing
it. I want them to know that there is a reason for it and that they have an environment in which
they are free to be themselves so that they can realize and begin to understand the purpose of the
music. I believe that the path to achieving this lies with setting expectations that encourage
students to do so. I do not want certain students feeling out of place or inferior because that may
prevent them from receiving the inspiration that I so greatly desire to provide. All music
educators have different ideas and thoughts regarding what music education should entail. While
this may be true, I do believe that all of our philosophies have one thing in common, and that is
to inspire our students in the same ways we were inspired.

1. Thibeault, Matthew. "General Music as a Cure for the High-Stakes Concert." General
Music Today 3 Feb. 2010.
2. "Teacher Expectations of Students - A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?" Dec. 2012.
Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <>.
3. Rosenthal, Robert, and Lenore Jacobson. "Pygmalion in the Classroom." 1 Sept. 1968.
Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <