Please click the link above for a PDF version of my current résumé.
Music Education Philosophy
No matter what subject we teach, as educators we have a responsibility to help our students become inquisitive, open-minded, creative people. Our students should leave our classrooms feeling that they are valued as individuals, and that they are equipped with the tools to learn about the world around them. I strive to inspire my students to continue their education far after they leave the doors of my classroom.
The notion that music education should be available to ALL people is the foundational idea that has stayed constant in my musical career thus far. This is one of the reasons I am drawn to elementary general music- it is invigorating and challenging to reach ALL students, including ones who may not want to be in my classroom.
If one subscribes to the idea that humans have a variety of intelligences, it is not a far leap to suppose that individuals can have strengths and weaknesses within a smaller break down of these intelligences. I see this in my general music classroom often. For example, I have students who seem pretty apathetic and average/below average in their singing and musical literacy skills, and then when I introduce recorder they suddenly are leaps and bounds above everyone else. Other students who sing incredibly well have a terribly difficult time remembering dance steps and moving their bodies in a way that is musical. This is one of the reasons I really push myself to offer a wide variety of ways for students to be musical, and to be honest, one of the things I have to remind myself of every year when I’m tempted to throw all of my recorders in the trashcan.
An integral part of teaching a creative art is helping students be creative. The idea (often found in philosophy books) of only considering an elite few capable of being truly creative goes against my beliefs in the potential of ALL of my students. It is interesting (and frustrating) that the idea that musical and creative skills are something you are born with (or not) is so prevalent in our culture. Through careful planning and teaching, musical skills and creativity are something that can be taught and developed throughout one’s lifetime.
Traditionally music education in the United States has centered itself around the western classical tradition, which is beautiful, complicated music (in my opinion), but does not even come close to representing the music of the entire globe. One of the biggest obstacles that music educators in the U.S face in teaching music from different cultures is finding ways to do so respectfully and authentically; we often get a bad reputation for “watering down” music from other cultures. While this was true in the past, the 21st century has brought so many technological advances that it has never been easier to find resources to help teach music from around the globe. I strive every year to expand not only my students’ cultural awareness, but my own as well.
The human experience is what we need to keep at the forefront of our minds when we are teaching. Music is important, but more important are the children we are teaching. Bennet Reimer articulates this idea well “We need to be mindful of… our deep, close kinship with all humans if we are to achieve a world where our common humanity, recognized and cherished, allows us to share worldwide positive values, values of peace, mutual respect, mutual sympathy, openness of intercommunication, and all the other values that enhance our membership in the larger world community in which each of us must live.” This. This is what we must remember as we teach music to our children, our friends, and our neighbors. We are teaching music, but more importantly, we are teaching music to people. Music has a unique power to help heal, strengthen, and unite people. While other activities (visual arts, sports, etc), can also have this power, let us celebrate what music can do for us. Let us teach our students to do their best as they develop their musicality, joining together with others to create beautiful sounds. I end my short, incomplete philosophy of music education with the English translation of a 16th century German tune that captures my hopes and dreams for music education, Harmonia Mundi:
We gather here together, with joyful heart and mind.
We raise our voices ever, our distant souls to bind.
To remember in this moment, of friendship love and joy
That music made together, may one day heal mankind.