Music Educators Make a Difference
Let the Music Begin
By Tim Lautzenheiser, sponsored by Conn-Selmer
At a time when everyone is looking for stability in the educational journey, let’s take a closer look at the landscape of music learning and music making. Simply put, MUSIC IS DIFFERENT; music is far more than a class, it is a culture. Something we have always taken for granted has now become boldly evident during the pandemic: MUSIC is a “home” in the school setting for many; it provides a landscape of “membership,” a place where students do far more than “attend,” but rather, they “BELONG.”
Music stands on its own as a core academic subject. Music is a language unto itself. It speaks to the heart-and-soul in a way that triggers emotions and feelings; it generates a desire to sing, to dance, to recognize beauty, to connect to the human spirit. It offers the wherewithal to express oneself through artistic communication. It is a universal vocabulary that needs no translation. This is WHY we teach music. With that said, there are a host of other benefits that have come to the forefront as result of the COVID-19 virus. Let us widen the spotlight to include the many reasons we are traversing this artistic highway with our youth . . . and not giving up or giving in during these challenging times.
For the past year, Conn-Selmer’s Division of Education has created a series of outreach programs designed to support the music education community as we navigate the uncharted waters of online learning. Enjoy the candor generated from several students when asked what they missed about their music classes:
“Our Zoom music times are still my favorite of the school day, but it’s not the same as making music together with my friends.”
“It’s great to learn about the background of the music and the history of the various composers, but I really look forward to playing with my orchestra family; that’s the reason I joined in the first place.”
“We love our choir director. More than any other teacher, she has gone the extra mile to keep us together even though we can’t be at school. It’s wonderful to see her on my computer screen, but I can’t wait to be with her in a real rehearsal.”
“Listening to music together isn’t nearly as exciting as making music together. We’re all counting the days until we’re back; I’m even looking forward to playing long tones!”
“When things are back to normal, I will be far more appreciative of my music teacher. Through all of this, I now understand Mr. Miller does more than direct the band; he teaches us the value of excellence.”
These are just a few highlighted comments from a select group of young music-makers. It certainly stands as a positive testimony to the value of music as seen through the eyes of the participants.
Music educators play such a unique role in the lives of their students. Along with the prescribed curriculum, there is the unspoken agenda that parallels the music lesson plans. Herein lies the “mortar between the bricks,” the development of the life skills essential in maximizing potential; ultimately, to garner the tools needed to achieve one’s personal/professional goals and become a contributing member of society.
Through musical experiences, we also learn:
- CREATIVITY: Tapping into IMAGINATION, the source of advancement for mankind.
- CONFIDENCE: Taking on the challenge of performing.
- COOPERATION: Shifting the decision-making process of WE/US over I/me; understanding the value of collaboration.
- COMMUNICATION: Realizing clear, concise communication is the fuel that drives success; it brings people together in harmony to reach a chosen goal.
- ACCEPTANCE: It’s the ultimate in embracing and celebrating diversity.
- CIVILITY: Understanding and displaying acceptable behavior towards others.
- APPRECIATION: Being able to recognize and acknowledge the contribution of others.
. . . and on, and on . . . the list is endless. In truth, music makes people better people.
It seems probable our physical school buildings will be open for the 2021–2022 academic year. Teachers will be thrilled to stand in front of their students. We can count on our young musicians to rush to their rehearsal rooms, to gather with their friends, to recreate the familiar climate of THE MUSICAL FAMILY and—of course—to reunite with their music teachers; what a grand tribute this is to music educators!
Recently, I received this note from a high school band director:
“We are finally back-in-school! When everyone came into the band hall, there was a sense of excitement beyond words. Once they had their instruments out, I jokingly said, ‘Let’s see if we can still get through the Bb scale as an ensemble; that’s our starting point!’ You won’t believe what happened next. As we finished the scale, the students started clapping; it erupted into a standing ovation and there were cheers of celebration mixed with tears of pure joy . . . and many of those tears were mine. To top it off, the next morning I walked into the rehearsal room and across the front wall was a huge sign that read: THE BAND IS BACK! . . . and on my office door was another large poster: WE LOVE YOU MR. G! . . . and that triggered another flood of tears. This is the greatest profession ever . . . EVER!”
The above story is a prelude to the many celebrations that will be heard from coast-to-coast. While the performance standards may have diminished a bit, the enthusiasm to get back to the much enjoyed “home away from home” will serve as jet fuel as we launch into this new beginning. It’s about MUSIC; it’s about PEOPLE . . . and it’s about TIME!!
Conn-Selmer salutes the music educators who continue to define the importance of commitment and dedication. YOU MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE to—and for—everyone. BRAVO!
. . . let the music begin . . .
About the author:
Tim Lautzenheiser is Vice President of Education at Conn-Selmer, Inc. Learn more about summer professional development and all Conn-Selmer is doing for music educators at education.conn-selmer.com.
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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.
May 19, 2021. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)