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Jim Calderon

May 11, 2015


Critical Pedagogy I
Professor Gallo
Philosophy of Music Education
During this short spring semester I have learned many things in Critical Pedagogy
about how students react to music education in the classroom. From this insightful
experience I also learned more about myself in how I am as a person and of course as a
musician. I attended a high school that a strong music program where at least a third of
the population was a part of one music ensemble, but of course that did not justify the
flaws in how things were done at my high school. In my four years of high school I have
participated in many ensembles including choir, orchestra, band, marching band,
symphony orchestra and even jazz band. A fair amount of the music ensembles I had
participated in had believed that everything was the performance, and because of that I
thought that a music teachers job was to get a good sound out of their students.
The music that Ive listened to growing up and all of the participation in my high
school choral ensemble as well as the instrumental ensembles have influenced me into
favoring classical western choral music and arrangements of popular and Spanish music.
I was raised in a first generation Dominican household where music was deeply
appreciated, but never seen as anything more than enjoyment. As a musician I haven
been influenced by genres of Spanish music including bachata and merengue first, then
classical western music and popular music from my own generation. When listening to
any type of music my ear tends to have an interest that has swing-feel rhythmically or
even simple meters. My ear has been accustomed to all types of progressions, which
means I had to train my ears quite a bit when focusing on what occurs melodically and

harmonically in the world of choral music. I thought it was always interesting how
students can share musical interests prior to learning from their music educator. Even
though I cannot wait to share my own musical interests with my future students, I also
want to know their interests and what they enjoy listening to. This way my students can
have a repertoire that they will love to sing and will challenge them musically. Due to the
diversity in my high schools strong music program the choir has gotten to many great
pieces such as collaborations with our own symphony orchestra, jazz band,
accompaniment of our pianist and pop set. One of the many reasons I want to become a
music educator is not only because I want to give students an enjoyable and meaningful
choral experience that I had during my high school years, but also because I believe
conducting is also a passion that Ive had since seeing groups perform. At the end of my
career at Westminster I will have gathered the knowledge I need to be able to give my
future students a full experience of music while still being able to show them what I
believe to be of certain importance. My identity as a musician has been influenced by my
choral experiences as well as other performing experiences throughout high school and
has made me favor certain types of ensembles over others, which means that I have to
work diligently to ensure that all my students get the full experience.
My own musical experiences affect the way that I would approach music
instruction by leaning more towards tradition and performance based evaluation. My high
school loved tradition and because of it our music curriculum was made so that incoming
freshman would come in to follow in footsteps of the upperclassmen. Which means that
songs like the Lufkins The Lord Bless You and Keep You and the O Come O Come
Emmanuel processional were songs that all the new students learned and what the

upperclassmen had already known. In my music program Id like to be a part of or even


create a tradition so that when there are school concerts the alumni can come back on
stage and sing a long with old friends that shared the same experience through choir. I
personally experienced that joy this year because I got to back for my high schools
holiday concert and at the end I got up with some friends to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.
Even though tradition was played a huge role in my high school experience, it was also
strongly performance based. In our ensembles we would extremely difficult music, which
was learned by rote or an insane amount of sectionals before and after rehearsal. This is
something that I will definitely avoid doing, because I have found it to be a negative
experience for both the student and the teacher and in the end no one has gained anything
at all. Regelski mentioned in his paper Toward an applied, professional ethics for school
music that he favored Virtue ethics, which he believes to be the right results can be
accomplished in music education and wrote, right results need to make a significant and
lasting difference in much the same sense understood by consequentialism. Failure to do
so means that the promised benefits to students have not been realized in ways or to a
degree that ethically justify the time, effort, and expense of providing instruction. (14)
Students education experience should not suffer for their entire lives just so that they can
put out great concerts and not gain any actual skill. But, at the same time I want my
students to enjoy participating in choir. Which means that my prior knowledge to
performance based ensembles will have to step aside so that I can teach pieces that are
fun and will teach them how to be better musicians.
My identity as a first generation Dominican, middle class male caused me to be
taken by surprise when teachers have to address social issues with students that never

came up in my schooling. My generation grew up as that weird kid that was kind of
different, but just wanted to fit in and because of it treated the phrase gay with nervous
laughter due to its negative impression and implication that it made you different. The
popular music of the culture I live in tends to glorify love songs for the opposite gender,
and romantic choral repertoire I have done also reflects this bias. I tend to have a bias
towards heterosexuality in music, and its easy to have this bias because so much of the
music written for choirs was written in a past where homosexuality was practically
forbidden. During the year I got to observe an elementary school lesson, the students
participated in a call and response song where they got to single out another student for
having a boyfriend or girlfriend all in the name of fun of course. When one of the
students insinuated a male student a boyfriend, the teacher let the laughter of the students
go but also gently reminded them that it wasnt uncommon. Randall Everett Allsup and
Eric Shiehs article Social Justice and Music Education: The Call for Public Pedagogy
addresses musics natural connection with culture and social norms and how teachers are
called to address the issue. They told us to consider that we work with music because the
social life, the cultural life of our communities, is something we care deeply about.(48)
It is important for a teacher to be an to make social change to ensure that students are not
bullied on the basis of being different, and that students do not grow up to hate
themselves because they perceive their sexuality as not normal.
The hurdle that every music educator must face is teaching the curriculum so that
his or her students are in a comfortable environment. Things can definitely go wrong if
any prior knowledge is applied to what you think you know about your students. Students
are all of a certain race religion, or region that still may be a completely different world,

which could make any student have an unpleasant reaction to music from something that
they are not, used to listening to. I want to know my students well enough and for them to
get to know me so I can select repertoire for them that is appropriate, but also musically
intriguing. Raiber and Teachout conclude The Journey from Music Student to Teacher
chapter 8 by informing us that our, students will know you through the decisions you
make and action you take on a daily basis. If those decisions and actions consistently
communicate that you have their best interests and their learning as your highest priority,
they will allow you to take them to new places pedagogically. Your teaching can become
particularly powerful when you align what you know about your students with the
content you teach. (195) Having a strong relationship with my students will be a huge
part of my future because with that trust many great things can be accomplished. Having
knowledge about each other will allow us to work diligently and be able to allow us to
grow and grow. As Bill Ayers writes in To Teach, kidslovetotellusaboutthemselves,
andwecanstructuremultipleopportunitiesforthemtodoso.(54)Iwillhelpstudentsby
providingtheseopportunities,sothatcangrowastheirownuniquepersonandmusician,
butalsosothattheycanbenefittheclassasonegiantfamily.
We must explore ways in which music education can be made more appealing to
a wider variety of students. Part of this is making sure that any school I am in has
scheduling designed so that all students can participate in music without sacrificing other
vital parts of their education. Another part would be to make sure that the students are
enjoying and benefitting from music education program. As the controversial Music
Education at the Tipping Point article by John Kratus suggests that, none of this will
come easilybut I do think we have that option and time is precious(47). Kratus

mentions a long list of extremely engaging and student focused music education
endeavors, and these inspiring examples are what I can learn from so that someday I can
create a rich music education program. He also teaches is that I must learn to draw on
other peoples successes in music education to fuel my own.
In conclusion, what I hope to accomplish in the future is to create a program that
will benefit the students. I want to create a love and appreciation for various types of
music into my students, and for them to use their musical skills in what they hear and
enjoy. Someday in the not so distant future I will have choirs that can perform well, but
also be full of students who benefited from the great music program. Teaching music is
an incredible thing because it is an amazing way to better the students life in many
aspects. One day I hope to put this philosophy to the test and use what I learned in
Critical Pedagogy in the real world.
Citaions
Allsup, Randall E., and Eric Shieh. "Music Educators Journal." SAGE. National
Association for
Music Education

Ayers, W. (1993) To teach: The journey of a teacher (p. 54) New York: Teachers College
Press.

Kratus, J. (2007). Music Education at the Tipping Point. Music Educators Journal, 42-48.

Raiber, M., & Teachout, D. (2013). From music student to teacher: A professional
approach (p. 195). London: Routledge
Regelski, T. A. (2010). Toward an Applied, Professional Ethics for School Music. Paper
presented at the MayDay Colloquium, Montclair, NJ.