High-Quality Music Teaching, Part 2

We all like to be in control, but giving up a little of it to our students can often reap great rewards.

Alfred S. Townsend lists several ways that teachers can increase the quality of their teaching and the learning of their students. The first was challenging, worthwhile, multicultural content. Here’s the second:


  • Provide sequential structure from which to explore and create music:  “You can dramatically increase the creative quality of composition and improvisation by providing sequential instruction throughout the grade levels,” says Townsend.
  • Make composition and improvisation part of your entire K–12 curriculum:  “Although time allotments are shrinking, try to regularly devote small amounts of time to these areas,” Townsend suggests.
  • View composing and improvising as critical to music learning:  “High-quality music instruction in composition and improvisation will help drive music education if you view them as essential components of K–12 creativity, not just specialty enhancements,” Townsend states.

This six-part series is adapted from “Driving Music Education: Who’s at the Wheel?” a Lectern column by Alfred S. Townsend printed in the August 2008 issue of Teaching Music.
MENC member Alfred S. Townsend is the first appointee to the F. Ludwig Diehn Endowed Chair in Instrumental Music Education in the music department of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate music education courses. His current research includes developing a research-based philosophy of teaching and learning, and connecting parents with learning what their children are studying in music classrooms.

–Ella Wilcox, January 5, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org)