In January the Missouri Music Educators Association held its 75th anniversary In-Service Workshop and Conference at the Tan-Tar-A resort at the Lake of the Ozarks.
During the conference, teacher Laura S. Schwab and others were asked to share a story about the benefits of music education. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is collecting such stories in its Share Your Story campaign.
Schwab, a 25-year music educator in the Carthage (Missouri) R-9 School District, gave it some thought and responded a few days later with an essay.
Why I KNOW That Teaching Music is Important
“There are many reasons that I can say that support the value of music education. Music class is where children are allowed to feel. Music class is where we join in unity toward a common goal. Music class is where we march to the “beat of a different drummer.”
“Many adults have a misconception about that which is a music class. They look back to what music class was when they were in school. Today’s music class is an enhancement of the core curriculum. The brain is a complex instrument and music teachers find new ways to approach learning. An example is when we divide and subdivide rhythmic notation. Recently, a student said, “Oh, that’s just like the KFC method that we use in math!”
“KFC teaches kids nonsensical math.[KFC means “keep-flip-change,” keep the first fraction as it is, flip the second fraction, and change the problem to a multiplication problem.]
“The students in class now have created multiple brain connections which inherently allow application of math concepts coupled now with an understanding of note division. Imagine how exciting it is when students realize that the study that they just did of ancient Greece ties into a lesson on the music of Greece. Students utilize skills such as categorizing using a set of characteristics when they identify musical genres.
“Music classes no longer consist of only preparing students for a concert. While that is a worthy activity in itself for aesthetic value as well as lifeskill development, it is not the only learning that is happening.
“As a veteran music instructor, my own methods have changed over the years to adapt to the instructional needs of our students. Language development and reading skills are enhanced in the music classroom. Lyrics are often accompanied by movement and visuals to assist in comprehension. Poetic form is marked by the musical form. The steady beat assists students with reading fluency. All of these reading strategies assist not only the ELL learner, but all learners.
“Music is about relationships. At a recent music educator’s conference, I sat with a student that I had in Kindergarten music that finished her high school career with my former student teacher. They both are now music educators making a difference in the lives of children.
“Music is what makes our world make sense. During the craziness of several recent tragic events, music is what brought the people together. We all become musicians or music consumers. Music is so much a part of our lives.
“Support of the arts in our educational process is imperative to the coloring of our future. I am proud to have devoted my career to making our world a better place to live in by introducing children to the joy of song.”
Laura S. Schwab
Everyone has a story to tell. Share your music education story with NAfME.
The Association is collecting stories to share with elected officials on the state and national level to demonstrate broad support for school music programs.
Roz Fehr, NAfME managing editor for news, February 7, 2013. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)