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Ruben Pascual

Philosophy Statement

My Music Education Philosophy

Pursuing a career in music education has been my greatest aspiration since graduating

high school. My high school music experience was the catalyst for my continuous determination

to become the best musician and music educator that I can be. I was the concertmaster of the

orchestra beginning my junior year. My high school music department was unconventional in

that the concertmaster was not necessarily the principle violin player, but a student that was a

strong leader and was dedicated to the ensemble. As concertmaster, I was responsible for helping

rehearse, organize, and teach the string and full orchestras. Through this leadership role, I

realized that playing the viola was not just a hobby that I enjoyed doing on my own, but was

something that I enjoyed sharing with others through group performance and instruction. I spent

a significant amount of time planning lessons and teaching them to my peers. It was very

rewarding to see that I was able to impact somebody by sharing my passion for music with them.

I realized that I wanted to be a teacher because I liked helping others reach, and even surpass,

their potential as students and as musicians.

One of the reasons why I want to become a teacher is so that I can give back to the

community. When I was growing up, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to learn how to

play the violin in the class offered through my elementary school, but she could never afford the

cost. I had to wait for middle school where orchestra and band classes were offered free of

charge. I enrolled in orchestra class the first chance I had during the seventh grade, and it was a

very rewarding decision. Thinking back to my experience, I know that there are many other
students that cannot afford music lessons. Public schools, in communities such as mine, are the

only outlet in which students can learn more deeply about music. I want to advocate the

importance of school music programs in order to ensure that this valuable resource is offered to

students of all grade levels. I want to become a music teacher in order to provide students with a

rich musical learning experience that goes beyond just learning how to play an instrument.

I believe that students deserve an education that includes learning the technical

foundations of playing an instrument, but also one that includes a broad undertaking of the

historical, social, and cultural contexts in which music was, and is, composed and performed. I

want to teach my students to appreciate and understand music as the dynamic art that it is, and

offer them a variety of ways to learn and make music so that they can discover an expression of

the art that is both meaningful and personal to them. My goal is not to create professional

musicians, although some may choose that path, but to help make musical human beings that

will go on to share their enjoyment of music with others for generations to come. I want to

challenge my students to be independent thinkers and learners and empower them to lead

productive, fulfilling lives as lifelong learners. I want my students to be well rounded and gain

the skills needed to be responsible and productive contributors in the communities they live in.

In order to provide students with such a broad and overreaching musical experience, the

school music program must provide a plethora of avenues through which students can have those

experiences. The curriculum must include as many classes as possible, including but not limited

to: concert ensembles (band, orchestra, choir), jazz band, marching band, chamber ensembles,

music theory, music history, music appreciation, and as many other classes as there is room for.

Music is a broad subject and there are many ways to experience it. Students can be called to

music through dance, group and individual instrumental performance, the history of music,
purely listening to music, and even just learning how music works through a theory class. It is

important to include many offerings because different avenues will call to different types of

people. Any and all of these types of classes should be included in the music curriculum because

they all have positive effects on the students and the community of the school.

Music programs can create a very different enriching academic environment for students

of all ages than other academic subjects, which can often reach students not ordinarily reached.

Students who participate in school music programs are less likely to be involved with drugs,

gangs, or alcohol and have better attendance in school. Students learn to become sustained, self-

directed learners and also learn about the value of team-work. Music education aids critical

thinking, creative thinking, the ability to analyze, solve problems, communicate, and work

cooperatively, which many find to be vital for success in the 21st century workplace. Music has

also proven to have beneficial health effects on individuals as well as therapeutic effects because

it engages multiple parts of the brain and induces their functions. Music education overall assists

students in developing a lifelong skill making music.

My specific teaching approach is very eclectic. In order to reach the maximum amount of

students and to accommodate for the various learning styles that exist, I draw from the various

teaching philosophies of Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly, Gordon, and Feierabend. I understand that there

are many ways of teaching the same thing and I firmly believe that a good teacher is better

equipped if he or she has many ways of teaching the same thing. Although I choose an eclectic

approach to teaching, one of the most important aspects of my teaching philosophy includes the

sound before sign approach to teaching. I believe that allowing students to experience music

aurally in the beginning stages will tremendously improve their ability to add significance to the

symbols of music. Audiation skills, being able to hear melodies or other musical content in the
mind, is a very important skill that I would like to develop in my students. Often times, teachers

get wrapped up in teaching students how to ready the musical symbols on the page before the

student can actually sing the song or play it on the instrument. Learning music is like learning a

language. We start our language skills by listening to others speak to us. We gradually learn to

speak those words ourselves and then we learn how to read and write them when we get into

grade school. Music should be taught in the same manner. Students aural skills should be

developed first before we bombard them with the plethora of symbols and signs used in music.

They must be musical before they learn how to read the music they must have some knowledge

that they can transfer to the unknown.

According to notable music education philosopher Bennett Reimer, While music has

many important non-musical or non-artistic functions, its musical or artistic nature is its unique

and precious gift to all humans.1 In addition to music education producing concrete cognitive

skills, it also more importantly teaches a number of non-cognitive skills. Such skills are brought

forth in rehearsals or ensemble work and include communication skills, organizational skills,

time management skills, and leadership skills. From my own experience, as a leader in my high

school orchestra and my other professional and voluntary music teaching experiences, music

provided me with the opportunity to learn and better develop leadership skills that I continue to

use to this very day. Music study has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities and capabilities

I hold within myself and I know that it has done the same and will continue to do the same for so

many others. Music education has the ability to encourage students to take healthy risks (honing

of self-expression and creativity), help kids recognize new skills in themselves and others,

provide a way to differentiate instruction unlike other academic subjects (performance

Bennett Reimer, A Philosophy of Music Education, NJ: Prentice Hall (1970), 37.
opportunities encourage lifelong connections and an appreciation for the arts), build

collaboration among both students and teachers, bridge differences, and draw in parents and the

community. Music study can simply be a very fun and engaging learning experience that can

often times, no matter how small, produce immediate gratification and rewards. The benefits of a

high-quality music education are boundless and it is a curriculum every school should be

advocating to have. Reimer says, music and arts are unique in the values they offer and these

values are so fundamental to any notion of the good life as to be unquestionable in their


Reimer, 68.