Music is a basic human experience which addresses unique and fundamental needs, and has been upheld as an essential part of every human culture for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, music was considered one of the seven liberal arts, along with grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy. A holistic approach to education should support and nurture mind, body, and soul. Music contributes to all of these aspects of human development in multiple ways. The practice and performance of music allows students to explore and discover their inner selves and learn to articulate their emotions through creative expression.
In addition to the aesthetic and emotive value of music, science has demonstrated that music exercises and stimulates the brain in multiple other ways. Even in during the prenatal stage of development, babies are able to hear and respond to music. Exposure to music at a young age aids in the development of hand-eye coordination and both gross and fine motor skills. Playing music engages both sides of the brain simultaneously, which is critical to healthy brain development and helps students excel in other core subjects such as math, science, reading, and writing.
Music programs are essential because they promote personal character development by fostering skills such as responsibility, discipline, time management, creativity, patience, and perseverance. Through the fundamentally collaborative aspect of music, students also build important social skills such as communication, flexibility, cooperation, and leadership. An understanding and appreciation of music has a positive impact on children’s ability to learn in all other experiences throughout their lives, and students who study music are exposed to opportunities that create a more well-rounded human being.
Music should be a core element of the educational curriculum at every grade level. The national standards for music education are important because they provide a framework that enables educators to constantly evaluate and improve their teaching. Jerome Brunner’s spiral curriculum learning theory maintains that concepts can be taught at any age as long as they remain intellectually honest to the child’s level. Foundational music concepts can be taught even at the earliest grade levels and continuously built upon as the student matures. Every student should be given the opportunity to learn music, regardless of socio-economic status, physical or intellectual ability.
A good music teacher must be fundamentally patient, empathetic, and flexible, while still maintaining an organized and structured classroom. Students should be taught both an aesthetic and academic understanding of music, as well as practical music skills. It important for a music teacher to use many different teaching techniques in order to reach as many students as possible, providing music activities that stimulate kinesthetic, visual and auditory learners alike. Therefore, an effective music educator must be both technically skilled as a musician and have a broad knowledge base of theory, history, and other aspects of music.
The biggest gift we can give our students is an education that is student-centered. As an educator, my role is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for students to learn and grow. It is important for learning to take place in such an environment so that students are not only free to be themselves, but free to make mistakes. The best learning happens when it is cooperative and collaborative in nature, letting students learn from each other and become more actively engaged in their learning. I aim to optimize the musical talents of my students and help create the next generation of independent and creative musicians.
Music is a unique discipline, holding intrinsic value that cannot be paralleled or replaced by other domains. It truly is a universal language, and should be taught to anyone and everyone without exception. Music builds character and changes lives, both on an individual level and within the context of the greater global community. It is the responsibility of communities, schools, and teachers to provide students with the resources to become a musically literate society of music consumers, performers, and composers.
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