High-Quality Music Teaching, Part 5

“Connections between concepts can grow if we lift our eyes above mere skills development within our own specialty area and look toward building on each other’s successes,” says Alfred S. Townsend.
Townsend suggests a number of ways to interconnect student learning and make it more memorable:


  • Link your teaching and student learning to the nine National Standards for Music Education.
  • Learn from colleagues.  For example, if you’re the band director, find out what the general music educator can teach you that will help your students. Get out of your box to learn from other professionals.
  • Connect to cultures in your community. Try to use authentic folk tunes. Do more than set a familiar tune to a salsa beat. Show how what you’re teaching relates to world musics next door and on other continents.
  • Use the Internet.  “One band director connected his students with a range of cultures by using the theme ‘Around the World in 180 Days’ … he discovered that it was easy to connect with composers around the world, who were willing to provide recordings and compositions for his use,” Townsend shared.

“Connecting all components of the K–12 curriculum with each other and with world cultures can provide students with superb educational and artistic experiences that will enrich their lives and carry beyond their school years,” concluded Townsend.

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 26, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org)