Elemental music is never just music. It’s bound up with movement, dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer.
— Carl Orff

My Educational Philosophy:

 

Music is for everyone.

That statement can be taken two ways. One could take it to mean that music should be for everyone - that we should insist on the right of every child to have music education as a part of the daily life growing up throughout his or her school years. Were I to hold only this view, it would be an irreversible tragedy when school music programs are cut, an irreparable disaster when orchestras run out of money.

There are many people who hold that view. It is a popular one, especially among music education activists fighting to keep music programs in public schools. Well-known organizations are on the front lines of this cause: The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, the VH1 Save the Music Project, and the SupportMusic Coalition just to name a few. There are also fantastic claims made as to why we should keep our music programs: relief from learning disabilities, wider vocabulary usage, disciplined children. . .  I recently came across a list of 100 reasons that music education should be kept in schools. Among them were:

  • Schools with music programs have a much higher graduation rate than those without programs.
  • Students in music programs fare better in English and Math than those without the music experience.
  • Students in better music programs had higher standardized test scores than those in weaker programs.

These things may be true. I certainly believe that every child can benefit in multiple ways from being in a good music classroom. However, in our rush to list all the reasons we should keep music education in our schools, I believe that we overlook something.

Music is for everyone.

This statement could also be taken to mean that music already is for everyone. Music has existed before we were born and will continue to exist after we die. Music is everywhere. Every culture, throughout every time period, under every government rule, music has existed and still exists. With this view of music, it is still tragedy when school music programs are cut. It is still a disaster when orchestras run out of money. But the termination of music programs can never terminate music itself. No one has that ability. Not administrators, parents, government workers. . . The value in music education is not the long list of benefits it can give non-musical subjects. The value in music education is that it is an existing discipline in and of itself with a valid theory and history just like every other subject we study in our schools.

Music is for everyone.

This makes the job of a music educator extremely important. The next generation of pop singers, conductors, orchestra players, composers, music engineers walk in and back out of the doors of our music room each day. What will that time in between the walking in and the walking out contribute to the musical future of these children and their peers? The time these students spend in the music classroom should have an impact on how they view and craft their art later. Seeing the possibilities and potential of my students, my job as a music educator is to teach students to explore sounds, colors of music. It is to train them in music literacy so that they can compose. Teach them how to study a score so that they can conduct. Teach them about healthy singing technique so that they can have a long successful career as the next huge pop singer.

For these students - the ones who go on to be the professional composers, the professional conductors, the pop singers - the training they receive from me will be crucial in their musical journey.

However, the reality is that most of my students will not be pop singers. There will not be many future professional composers in my classroom. Few, if any of my students will go on to be conductors. No, my students for the most part will not be the producers.

The vast majority of the students I teach will grow up to be listeners of music. They will be the consumers. Music is for everyone. It is my job to teach how to be a wise, critical consumer of music. Students should know what to listen for in a wide variety of genres. They should know how to take in music intelligently.

Why? Because music is for everyone. And music is by everyone.

We do not teach music so that students will leave the classroom as virtuosos on their instruments. It is not so they can walk straight into a doctoral music theory program. Those who go on to be involved in a church choir should have all the tools they need to be strong choral singers. Those who go on to play in a community band or orchestra should have all the tools they need to be strong ensemble players. Children should sing songs from around the world, weaving themselves in a rich, global musical tradition. I want my students to develop a love and appreciation for music, and to be equipped to be actively and creatively involved in music when they leave my classroom.

Children must be trained in  how to be wise, critical consumers. Their own personal music making must be made of creativity and intelligence, with music and magic in every experience.

We are all the co-performers.

We are the Music Makers is designed to cultivate these musical experiences. It is about growing, learning, singing, creating, and making musical moments every day.

This blog is for the drummers and hummers, the singers and conductors, the players and the creators.
This site is for the Music Makers.