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Brittany McCollum April 5th, 2010 Critical Pedagogy I Mark Dolan Philosophy of Music Education Music education should provide students with endless outlets for creativity, which would encourage them to expand their knowledge of music, and improve their musicianship skills. Music should be an engaging experience for students of all different backgrounds, both culturally and racially. With the help of a well-rounded and passionate music teacher, a student is more likely to experience that level of expression. One objective in music education is to grasp students attention with the beauty of music, and to teach them how this beauty comes together and works. Another objective is the technical aspect of music. In order for a student to fully grasp music in its entirety, they must understand what makes up the beauty in music. Basic theory and solfege are two examples that can give a student a good foundation to start their musical journey. The most important time to grasp students attention is when they are at the elementary age. At this age, students are more responsive and willing to respond to musical experiences. A childs ability to learn things quickly is remarkable, and is paralleled by their willingness to learn. It is important to peak the students interest in music at a young age because it will set up a good foundation for their future years in school. Some basic tools that would start a good foundation for a lifelong music education would be skills such as basic rhythms and solfege. When I was in elementary school, I had a remarkably enthusiastic teacher who loved music and children. Music class was my favorite period of the day. We would do high-energy, interactive warm-ups, and work on different songs to prepare for upcoming concerts. The

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different activities and approaches were prominent aspects in the classroom. We were led in activities ranging from ribbon dancing to boom-wackers, in order to feel different rhythmic patterns in a variety of music styles. To learn musical notation we would play musical bingo and receive special music prizes if we won. We were a highly interactive group. I remember this experience well, and I wonder at times, had I not had this experience, would I have been as open to music at the middle school and high school level? It is harder for students to become open to a new idea or concept, such as music, at an older age. If music is introduced in an inviting atmosphere to a young mind that is willing to do practically anything asked of it, the music making can start developing and be improved in the middle school and high school years. In music education, it is important to include a variety of music styles. Students of different ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds have different interests and tastes; I believe you have to reach out to all of their interests. In expanding musical horizons in the curriculum, the music educator is able to expand the students knowledge of style and genre. Through this variety, the instructor provides them with a wider knowledge of musical heritage in their own culture, and in a global culture. When doing cultural music, the kids are able to delve into, and appreciate another cultures styles and sounds. This is a useful tool in teaching, so as not to avoid repetition of the same styles of music, and to promote awareness of society and history through music. Learning how to read music plays a key role in a childs musical journey. Learning music is like learning a new language. Instead of memorizing vocabulary, grammar, and articulation, the student is deciphering different symbols and learning what pitch is made in

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relation to where they are placed on the staff. As was modeled in the classroom when I was a child, using musical bingo with students is effective. Not only are note names and identification learned, but the function and vocabulary of articulation markings are gained. Because students can pick up musical skills so quickly, in a relatively small window of time, it is crucial to expose them to music at an early stage. If students develop these skills during their early years, when they get to middle school or even high school, these basic principles will have become second nature. Solfege is a great way to incorporate certain syllables with corresponding sounds. I did not learn solfege until I came to college. The more I struggled with it, the more I hated it. However, when the skills started to synthesize, I began to understand the concept and master the art of solfege. Because of my struggle with the skill set, I now understand why it is such a good learning tool for students. Kids at the junior high and high school level are more likely to push music to the side and not take it seriously. Younger kids are open to a broader spectrum, and are more willing to learn different approaches such as solfege. Over my spring break I observed Beth Poplin, the music director at East Wilkes Middle School. The kids called her The Solfege Nazi- they were not kidding. Poplins students were required to do all music exercises using solfege. Warm-ups and rehearsals are conducted with solfege; it is not until two weeks prior to the performance that they put words to the songs. They were also required to do the Kodaly hand signs, with both hands, for every syllable they sang. This exceeded the amount of solfege I would use in a classroom. However, this approach works for her, and she gets great responses from her students.

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Since music is such a personal subject, I believe the teacher must choose repertoire that is appropriate for the students level. Begin with something the students would definitely enjoy, and gradually introduce other repertoire such as classical or gospel to make them more wellrounded musicians. For elementary aged children it will be harder to pick pieces to which they can relate. However, children love stories and are more than willing to sing a cute song with a fun story line. Music can be seen as an outlet for some people. It is a way to communicate different emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Music has the power to evoke emotion in diverse audiences, which is why choosing repertoire is an important skill to employ as a music educator. Fun, up tempo pieces can help students become more comfortable with both the music and the instructor. Additionally, the students will be more willing to open up to new kinds of repertoire and/or a new sense of respect for the teacher. The relationship between student and teacher is crucial in a music classroom. The teacher should build a professional relationship with each student based on trust and respect. In order to make beautiful music, students must trust that the teacher will lead them in the right direction. There is a fine line between being a students teacher and a students friend. Fulfilling the role of the teacher is the first priority, but when a student works with a certain teacher for consecutive years, the student reaches a deeper level of trust and may begin to confide in the teacher. It is the teachers responsibility to accept this trust, keeping the relationship on a professional level. Also, when disciplining students, the teacher must be fair and abide by consistent rules and guidelines. If the teacher is not an objective disciplinarian, she could be accused of showing favoritism.

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I have dealt with the issue of favoritism since my fifth grade year. My father was my band director at my school from fifth grade until my sophomore year in high school. He was an excellent model of fairness in the music classroom by exemplifying this professional relationship. Not only did he act like I was not his daughter in the classroom, but he had to treat all of my friends, who were frequent visitors at our house, just as he treated everyone else. He never had to be stern with anyone, simply fair. My friends and I were never given special treatment during class, which earned him respect with the other students. My dad left my high school at the end of my sophomore year and his replacement had a different interpretation of the word fair. The replacement teacher already knew many of the students in the chorus, and made the mistake of trying to befriend the students they did not know personally. Because of this relationship struggle, the teacher had no control of the classroom. The students knew they could walk all over the teacher because no respect had been built up in the classroom. This respect is crucial to gain, and there are many ways to establish a lasting professional relationship at first impression. However, knowledge of how to attain a good rapport with students will come with experience in teaching and interacting in the classroom. Performing is a wonderful and rewarding experience. However, the process leading up to the performance is more important than the performance itself. Different teaching approaches and different aspects of creativity play a dominant role in this process. The National Standards of Music Education lay out nine different approaches. Encouraging interactivity with students and music making techniques are important. In order to do this, a flexible, well mapped out lesson plan is a good tool for the educator to have. The more knowledgeable the teacher is in her subject, the more flexible she can be in her lesson.

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At the middle school and high school levels, students are often involved in performing ensembles, including band, chorus, and orchestra. Many of these groups combine different disciplines. Show choir, for instance, is a good way for kids to combine dancing and movement with music. It involves the students entire body and is a great way for the students to understand the feel of the music. The value of show choir is held in both singing the music, and dancing to keep the beat with your body. This combination of music and movement is aesthetically, and aurally pleasing, not to mention a fun and interactive way for students to enjoy both disciplines. Musical theater is another example that involves singing, dancing, and acting. Students respond to this medium well because it combines many arts into one, and it is not limited just to the singers and actors on stage. Visual artists help with set design, and dancers can be a part of ensemble dances, or be in charge of choreography. The strong singers will top it all off. I find such joy in teaching. I know how my love for music changed my life, and I want to do the same for other people. A rewarding experience in teaching will be seeing the excitement, and the aha moment on the students faces. Being a music educator is a rewarding job, in which you get to see your students grow musically throughout their music education. Because music is personal and emotional, you are able to have a closer relationship with your students than an academic discipline would allow. The love of music that I have will show through in the performances of my students. It will be rewarding seeing students grow not only as musicians, but as well-rounded, whole people.