Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Philsophy Of Music Education

At graduate school I wrote a final paper for my Philosophy Of Music Education class.  To prepare for the school year, I decided to take a look back.  I'm not sure how I feel about all of this now after six years of teaching.  Some things I question (music as a language) and other things are reminders about why I love my job (musical meaning). 

Sometimes in life when trying to follow our passion, we misunderstand what we really love. When I chose to be a composer as an undergraduate at Northwestern, I thought my passion was for composition. I found myself wanting to be challenged more so I picked up a conducting degree my junior year in addition to my composition degree and thought that my real passion was for conducting. The fact of the matter was that what I loved about composition and conducting was the opportunity to empower individuals by helping them develop personal meaning in music. I realized then my love was for teaching. With this, I chose to pursue a master in music education degree to further develop my love for music, teaching and students.

In the past, philosophy seemed like a discipline of thinking about ideas that are interesting and mentally stimulating but not relevant. I now find this is not true at all. Philosophy for music educators changes teaching into an art form. A philosophy of teaching defines the values of a teacher and informs the decisions a teacher makes. Practical experience informs a philosophy creating an evolving set of values. With this set of values, educators can better communicate to others music’s important role in education. Teachers become artist through developing a philosophy that helps them understand, analyze and improve their craft.

Understanding music as a language is central to my approach music education. Music is a language that communicates emotions. Listening and performance are both important parts of music education. Both provide different ways of understanding. Variety in musical understanding needs to be included in the education of students to develop different ways for students to understand and learn music.

Musical meaning is how individuals understand music. People understand music in many different ways influenced by life experience. Musical meaning varies reflecting people’s lives and experiences. Musical meaning evolves as people grow. The goal of music education is to help develop in students more significant musical meaning.

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