Happy Thanksgiving, New Teachers!
By NAfME Member Paul K. Fox
This article first appeared on Paul Fox’s blog here.
“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” — Plato
Things for Which Prospective Music Teachers and Students Majoring in Music Education Should Be Thankful . . . and on Which to Reflect Over This Holiday Season!
Music educators and those training for this honorable career have many reasons to feel blessed. This Thanksgiving 2016 blog is another one of my “pep talks” and an ongoing goal to share resources for pre-service professional development. Let’s begin with a classic “top-ten” list — the fruits and cornerstones of our profession:
- Music is one of life’s greatest treasures!
- You will always have your music. Your future employment is also your hobby, and even after 35 or more years, you will inclined to continue your music throughout the “golden years” of retirement.
- There are so many ways you can make a difference in the lives of children with music. Whether it is singing, playing an instrument, composing, listening, feeling, or moving in response to music, music fills a basic need!
- Although music is an excellent vehicle for developing 21st Century learning skills (the four C’s of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication), participating in music for music’s sake is paramount. To find true meaning and personal artistry, you cannot review the arts without “doing” (or creating) the arts.
- Your joy of creative self-expression and “making music” will sustain you through almost anything… and will transfer to your students’ success in life.
- In many settings of school music courses and extra-curricular activities, your students make a conscious effort to choose you and the study of music in order to spend as much time together. “They may have to take math and English, but they also want their daily dose of music!”
- Newcomers to this field, you do not have to be right or perfect all the time in class. During your student teaching and early years on the job, if you are enthusiastic, dedicated, and respectful of the feelings of your students, your mistakes (and there will be many) will be forgiven. Besides, there are usually no “single right answers” in music and art – only opportunities for divergent and flexible thinking, adaptability, and personal expression.
- You’ll never forget your students… and when you bump into them after graduation, they will remind you all about “those good times!” Don’t be surprised when they tell you were the best part of their education.
- Your band, orchestra, and/or choral director back home (school district and university) are rooting for you… and want you to succeed. If you have questions, go see them. They would appreciate you asking for their advice.
- Good news! Help is on the way! On this blog-site, there is a single link to all of the articles, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc., everything from branding yourself to a review of the interview questions you will need to answer at job screenings. To help you market your professionalism, develop a philosophy of music education, learn the basics of networking, dive into making a business card, professional website or e-portfolio, or practice taking interviews, go to the link above or click here.
Why Music? Why Do You Want to Become a Music Educator?
It never hurts to embrace and share the excellent voices of our music education advocates. Check out these interesting online sources:
- Mrs. Amsler’s teacher website (Joan Martin EL, Hobart, IN)
- Music For All
- NAMM Foundation
- VH-1 Save the Music Foundation
Ten Goals for the Holiday Break
After you finish your fall semester finals, juries, concerts, writing assignments, and other projects, you may have several weeks before you have to return to full-time classes at the university. Besides catching up on your sleep and visiting your family and friends, how many of these enrichment activities can you accomplish?
- Share your gifts. Play your instrument, accompany someone else, or sing solos at a local nursing home or senior center.
- Sit in with a church or community choir, band, or orchestra. Just ask the conductor if you could participate in a few rehearsals over your break.
- Learn something new about music… a different instrument, recent releases in sheet music or recordings, unique composer/arranger in your major area, music education article from a professional journal, innovative music software or interactive online programs (often free trials are available to future teachers), etc. For example, have you perused SmartMusic and MusicFirst?
- Spend a lot of time sight-reading… especially on the piano. To take your ear-training training a step further, pull out your old folk-song sight-reading series or Hindemith’s Elementary Training for Musicians and practice musicianship exercises.
- To improve your score reading, take a choral arrangement and play the individual vocal parts at sight (soprano + bass, alto + tenor, soprano + tenor + bass, etc.). Or, perform on the piano 2-4 parts of a string quartet score.
- Volunteer to assist coaching a sectional or large ensemble at your local public school.
- Attend as many local concerts as you can: school, amateur adult, and professional.
- Compose or arrange a short holiday, folk, or classical song for unusual instrumentation (e.g. flute, viola, baritone sax, and tuba). Who knows? Someday you may have to conduct an ensemble with such unique membership.
- Record video/audio excerpts of your major instrument/voice for placement on your professional website. Begin preparations on or update your e-portfolio.
- Read all of the “marketing professionalism” articles on this blog-site. Take notes or print the things to which you want to refer back. Make a list of the possible interview questions, and put yourself through several “mock job screenings” (alone or with one or more college buddies) with you answering these randomized questions in front of a camera. Assess your performance. During your”free time” over the holiday break, assemble your “personal stories” – anecdotes revealing your skills, personality traits, teaching experiences, and accomplishments that could be shared at future employment interviews. Most important article on this subject? Look here.
Best wishes for a healthy, peaceful, and fulfilling holiday.
Please enjoy lots of turkey with your loved ones, but if you can, “catch up” on your long term preparation for becoming a music educator. Make every day count over the recess. Reflect on why you are becoming a music educator, and be grateful for the multitude of benefits! Finally, never forget your own creative roots… make time for music every day!
About the Author:
NAfME Member Paul K. Fox is currently the State Retired Members’ Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), Chair of the PMEA Council for Teacher Training, Recruitment, and Retention, Founding Director of the South Hills Junior Orchestra, Steering Committee/School District Representative of the UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY magazine, staff announcer for “The Pride of Upper St. Clair” USCHS Marching Band, Trustee for the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair, and volunteer escort for the St. Clair Memorial Hospital.
Retired June 2013 from 33 years at the Upper St. Clair School District and 2 years at the Edgewood School District (now Woodland Hills School District), Paul K. Fox primarily taught Orchestra/Strings (Grades 5-12) at Boyce Middle School, Fort Couch Middle School and the Upper St. Clair High School (USCHS), along with positions in EL/MS/HS choral and general music, elementary band, and HS music theory. He also served as Upper St. Clair School District Performing Arts Curriculum Leader (7 years), Executive Producer of USCHS Fall Plays (29 productions) and Spring Musicals (30 shows), Editor/Writer/Photographer for Upper St. Clair School District publications/communications (26 years), Assistant Sponsor and Business Manager of the USCHS St. Clairion Yearbook (4 years), and Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District One (21 years).
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
Elizabeth Baker, Social Media Coordinator and Copywriter. November 21, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)