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Seminar in Music Education -(personal reflections from the unit summary assignments)

1. Ancient Greece & Rome to the Middle Ages

It is important to understand the foundations of music education. History tends to have

an ebb and flow of ideas, especially concerning the importance and primary function of music.

Ancient Greece considered music as an integral element to education, and valued music for

both aesthetic and utilitarian purposes. However, when Rome conquered Greece, the

importance of music diminished drastically, and became an intellectual subject. Understanding

these views can help educators realize the significance of creating and holding steadfast to a

philosophy of music education. There are many differing opinions in society today about the

purpose of music, and I believe that it is important for teachers (myself included) to have a clear

view of our goals and purpose.

In addition, the idea of musical censorship can be transferred to todays educational

world. Acknowledging the power of music to bring out various emotions and attitudes can help

teachers make informed decisions about censoring music. One key difference is important to

note - although the idea of censorship remains, it is not only the power of music itself, but a

combination of music and the text that generally requires censorship. Even with this difference, I

believe that censorship is necessary. It is not only my responsibility to teach music, but more

importantly, to teach individuals. I want to help my students develop into good people.

Therefore, it is important for me to introduce them to a variety of quality repertoire so that they

can learn about the human condition, other cultures, and become more sensitive to others.

Finally, searching for answers internally in an idealist fashion, and the Socratic method

of learning through asking questions, are two important teaching tools that are beneficial today.

In todays technological society, information gathering, and life in general, are very fast paced.

The practice of taking time to focus on a subject, think about it in detail, and create ones own

conclusions is important. Additionally, students should learn how to ask meaningful questions,
and go beyond thinking on the surface (memorizing facts). This can be applied to the music

classroom through personal reflections, discussions about the meaning and significance of

music. Therefore, learning from the successes and failures of the history of education can allow

teachers in the present day to preserve what works, and avoid encouraging the development of

practices that spurred negative results in the past.

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2. Medieval and Renaissance Music Education

The developments in humanist philosophies of education from De Feltre, Erasmus, and

Comenius apply to my teaching because I believe that education should be enjoyable,

interesting, and relevant to each student. I plan on putting these ideas into practice by asking

my students to reflect on their learning process and by pointing out connections to their personal

lives. I also try to plan lessons that involve learning games, and that are engaging so that my

students are actively making music. The ideas of learning through playing and active

experimentation also provide better opportunities for social learning. The shift towards humanist

philosophies makes learning experiences increasingly student-centered.

Additionally, the shift from dogmatic views to the logical-thinking and experiential

learning processes of Francis Bacon, Descartes, and Comenius, apply to music teaching. I

believe that the learning process is not as effective or as meaningful when students fully rely on

teachers to give them information at all times. Instead, teachers should give students ways to

learn and solve problems through active experiences. For example, instead of merely talking

about the music of Beethoven, I want my students to experience his music. I could have them

imagine that they are living in Beethovens time and dance to the music in a guided-listening

activity. Another way for them to experience Beethovens music is to sing and/or play Ode to

Joy as a class ensemble. The important point in these activities is that my students would be

able to actively experience the music, instead of just read about it.
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3. European Music Education from the Age of Enlightenment through the Romantic Era

There are many wonderful ideas and educational philosophies that emerged throughout the

Enlightenment and the Romantic Eras. In my opinion, one of the most important of these ideas

is that of education for all. During this time period the rise of the common man emerged,

resulting in the American and French revolutions. The idea of equality for all influenced the

belief that education should be available to all children. This directly applies to my philosophy of

music education because I believe that music should be available and experienced by all

people, and that music is an essential part of the educational system. When dealing with

scheduling issues, I can reinforce the expectation that music education is every childs right, and

should therefore be a part of each students educational experiences. I can also discuss the

importance of education for all with my students, and provide them with opportunities to share

music with the community.

In addition to the idea of education for all, Rousseau and Pestalozzi created new

theories of education based on child development. These theories relate to my teaching

because they reinforce the importance of student-centered teaching, and planning

developmentally appropriate learning activities. This idea also ties to Piagets stages of

development and Bruners idea of spiral curriculum. I need to present information in simpler,

more concrete ways to my younger students. Then, as they get older, they can revisit those

concepts in more abstract ways.

Other influential ideas from this time period include the importance of learning through

play, experiential learning, and social learning. Basedow and Froebel, who focused a lot of their

attention on developing theories for elementary education, advocated for the importance of play

and social-learning. This is important for me because I am going to be teaching music at the

Elementary level next year. I will be sure to provide opportunities for my students to explore
musical ideas with their peers, and I will devise creative learning games that will help reinforce

musical concepts through play. Additionally, Locke, Basedow, Pestalozzi, Herbart, and

Montessori all believed in the importance of learning by doing and the practical application of

knowledge. I understand the importance of active participation in making music, and I will be

sure to provide opportunities for my students to directly apply musical concepts to their

experiences singing songs and playing instruments.

Finally, Pestalozzis idea of developing the whole child resonates very strongly with me.

Pestalozzi combines the Enlightenments focus on developing intellect based on interactions

with the external world with the Greeks holistic views of developing sound reasoning, morality,

and physicality. I want to base my lesson plans and teaching methods on the concept of

focusing on the whole child. I will strive to direct my teaching towards social, physical,

intellectual, and emotional development by providing opportunities in which my students can

actively move around the classroom and engage their bodies through dance, guide them in

developing an understanding of musical concepts and ideas through experiencing and actively

creating music, and helping them connect to the emotions and the meaning of music through

discussions and reflections.

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4. Music Education in Colonial and Antebellum American Schools (1607-1861)

It is important to study this time period because there were many educational reformations that

developed throughout this era. America was newly forming, creating a need for the development

of a brand new educational system. Education reflected the unorganized and divided nature of

society in the beginning of the settlement period. Funding and transportation created barriers for

many to access educational opportunities. However, as time moved on and communities grew,

education became more widespread. This relates to todays society because funding and

resources, and transportation still create difficulties for some. I need to be cognizant of the
financial struggles and transportation difficulties of some of my students. I want to begin

developing programs in which my band students can go into the community, but in order to do

that I will need to plan effectively and help provide transportation options whenever possible. I

dont want transportation or money struggles to be a barrier for my students to participate in the

band program and/or in these band events.

Also, during this time of educational reform, an emphasis on compulsory education

gradually emerged. While I think that the widespread expectation in todays society is that all

children need to go to school, there is less of a focus placed on compulsory music education,

although many districts do very well in supporting their music programs. Lowell Masons

advocacy for music education for every student is important because it led to the establishment

of music programs within the school curriculum, and the belief that all children have musical

potential. It is helpful to look back at Masons struggles and his advocacy journey. I want to

follow his example by advocating strongly for my schools music program within the community.

It is helpful to investigate some of the reasons that Mason was able to be successful in his push

to include music in schools. First, he earned the support of the Superintendent of his school by

creating a quality music program. Developing my philosophy of education will help me to be

able to clearly state the purpose of music education, and better advocate for my program,

especially in discussions with the administration. Additionally, he was at the right place at the

right time. Boston was a very musically active city. It is likely that the community was accepting

and supportive of the music program that Mason proposed because the community valued

music. This idea of community acceptance inspires me to continue to reach out to parents and

participate in events within the community so that I can establish a connection and a support

system outside of the school.

Lastly, I enjoyed learning about the singing schools. Although they were not fully

established schools as we typically view schools today, they spread rapidly throughout America.

They also helped provide musical training to many more people who were not exposed to music
in other ways. One very important aspect of the singing schools that I relates to my own

teaching is the idea of active music-making. Singing schools were not based on elitist ideas and

extremely high standards of advanced level music making. Instead, these schools focused on

learning music by experiencing music. Instead of discussing notation and musical terms at

length before ever singing a note, these schools involved leaders who often taught melodies by

rote. They were practical and participatory in nature. Finally, because they were church schools,

there was a strong community focus in which they learned and created music together. This

idea of developing community and practical music-making is important in schools today

(Dewey, Elliott). I want to provide as many practical and active music opportunities to my

students as possible so that they can enjoy making music together.

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5. Music Education in 19th Century Post-Civil War America

There was a lot of emphasis on teacher training during the post-Civil War era. Thomas

Jefferson and Horace Mann proposed ideas for enhanced teacher training. This is especially

relevant in todays world as well. Society is rapidly changing with new technological advances. I

believe that it is important for teachers to continue learning throughout their careers. Education

should not stop upon graduation. Instead, teachers should pursue continuing education

programs/courses to learn about new ideas (teachers need to have growth mindsets in order to

model it and encourage students to develop growth mindsets too!).

Various music education journals emerged during this time period. Education journals

are important for research and for staying abreast of current trends and topics in the educational

world. Personally, I dont think that I read enough educational journal articles throughout the

school year, and I would like to become better about using these resources wisely so that I can

stay informed.
Finally, the rote vs. note conflict is still noticeable in schools and teacher education

programs today. Personally, and largely because of my music education courses at IC, I would

align myself the best with the Natural Music Schools method. I believe that starting students

with rote-only instruction can be beneficial because it can help them develop their ears from the

very beginning, and trains them to listen critically to their sound. It also has the potential to be

more fun for students because they can learn to play a few songs right away, so that they dont

have to think about how to create a sound at the same time as how to read musical notation.

Then, once the student has become relatively comfortable with the basics of creating sounds

and playing some songs by rote, I think it is appropriate and important to introduce them to

music notation (or to an iconic version of it first). Then, they will be able to develop an

understanding that there are two main parts of music literacy: learning by ear, and learning by

notation.

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6. American Music Education 1900 - WWII

Band programs in schools became much more widespread during the time from 1900 to

WWII. They were quickly adopted by schools because of their potential to be used for utilitarian

purposes. School bands, especially marching bands, developed and were modeled from military

bands. When soldiers returned from war, they often taught music lessons and/or became band

teachers. It is interesting to realize the strong military influence on the development of public

school bands. School bands spread and grew rapidly because of their visibility and utilitarian

purposes. I believe that performing at public events such as graduations and sports games are

important opportunities for music students to learn and experience the wonderful function of

music as service to the community, and to encourage community awareness and involvement

with school music programs. However, I dont believe that utilitarian reasons should be the
primary purpose for including bands in schools. Bands should be a part of schools for their

aesthetic purposes and to give students meaningful musical experiences. The primary function

of bands in schools should be to provide opportunities for students to learn and experience

music.

The development of band contests also helped make bands even more visible and

contributed to their widespread growth and acceptance into school programs. This influenced

educators to place a greater emphasis on the product (performances and competitions) rather

than on the process (learning experiences). While I agree that it is fun and inspirational to

perform at a high level, too much focus on performance products can have negative effects on

school music students. Creativity is often stifled because a greater focus is placed on accuracy.

In my opinion, festivals are more appropriate because they are not as competitive. Festivals can

be excellent motivators for some students, but they should not be the primary focus of a school

band program, and definitely should not be reasons to exclude any students.

Additionally, there were many differences between male and female roles in school

music programs. Piano classes were considered more appropriate for female students than

bands. This translates to todays world because although both males and females are welcome

in band programs, there are still differing ideas of male and female roles in bands. Certain

instruments, such as flute, are often viewed as more feminine. Contrarily, most brass

instrumentalists are male. I think that these gender roles in bands have been deteriorating over

time, but they are still visible in band programs. It is important to encourage students to play an

instrument that they are interested in, without consideration of their gender. As a teacher, I want

to impress upon my students the importance of being encouraging and welcoming of all band-

members.

Finally, this time period included a broadening of educational programs and school

musical opportunities. The emergence of band programs and more well-rounded musical

opportunities in schools helped make music more accessible to all students. Karl Gehrkens
coined the phrase, music for every child, every child for music. This idea began to spread

throughout the country. It is of utmost importance in this day in age to continue spreading this

notion of the importance of music education to every child. Music should not be limited to the

talented few, but should be available to all. Additionally, the idea of student-centered

educational practices developed throughout this time period. This humanist view of teaching is

also applicable to my own teaching. It can be easy to focus so much on the what and how of

teaching, that we sometimes forget about the who. Keeping student needs and personalities at

the center of our planning is a critical part of teaching.

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7. WWII to 1983

This era is relevant to my teaching, especially because of all of the learning theories and music

learning/teaching methods that were developed through this time. I am interested in learning

even more about Dalcroze, and Orff to help me be prepared to teach elementary general music

in different ways. Their emphasis on learning by doing and music with movement is an

important aspect of developing a solid foundational understanding of music, and can help young

musicians internalize music in a unique way. It is also fun and more engaging for young

students. Additionally, Gordons sound before sight concept is a great way to introduce musical

concepts to young students.

Another way that this era impacts my perception and approach to teaching and learning

is through the example of Fred Fennell. Fennell was bothered by a few comments that he

remembered about the limitations of the concert band. He was bothered that there were not

many quality recordings, and that people did not seem interested in listening to the few

recordings that were available. Additionally, he was bothered that someone had once told him

that it was not especially enjoyable and meaningful to play in a section where there are nine

other people who could play the same part. Therefore, Fennell thought about these issues.
Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up on finding a solution for these problems, he

creatively devised a plan for an ensemble comprised of a smaller number of performers. This

became the Eastman wind ensemble. This story resonates with me for a couple of reasons.

First, it is interesting to know some of the history of the band tradition, and to realize that

because of Fennells creative problem-solving, a new world opened up in wind band music.

Second, as Dr. Kaiser has pointed out to me, Fennells perseverance and forward-thinking

mentality provides an excellent example of the growth mindset. This story inspires me to

continue working towards making my teaching better and creating better opportunities for my

students.