Resource Building in the Digital Age
Tools and Support for Music Education
By Rebecca Hof, sponsored by Save The Music Foundation
The original article first appeared on the Save The Music Foundation blog.
My favorite teacher in middle school was Ms. Bray. She was my choir director from 5th to 8th grade and made those awkward years feel successful and content. Ms. Bray shared with me and my classmates her passion for music in every class. She also deeply cared about her students and made sure we were confident, happy, and used our full potential, not only as musicians but as well-rounded young people. I was very lucky to have some amazing, influential music teachers growing up and each one had a hand at what I did next.
I studied music education in college and became a music teacher and choral director just like Ms. Bray. It was an honor to work with the students who came through my classroom each day. Now, I have the privilege to work with music educators and advocates across the country in building resources for the field and sharing the tools and strategies needed in today’s music classroom.
A special part of what Save The Music Foundation (STM) provides to its grant recipients is long-term support for the school’s music program, including professional development opportunities for its educators. Starting on March 13, 2020, support became one of the most important aspects of how STM worked with schools and teachers. We began to gather educators and administrators online and started simply, “What do you need?” Creating a space for those who needed and wanted to ask questions, share their stories, and problem solve for common challenges became a regular event.
We learned that connecting teachers from a variety of districts and backgrounds in a digital space created an invaluable, empowering community. Our goal was to support those teaching and learning from home, when everything was different, and no one knew how the school year was going to proceed. These gatherings continued for many months to come and still occur to this day.
“We learned that connecting teachers from a variety of districts and backgrounds in a digital space created an invaluable, empowering community.”
Meanwhile, our online music education resources page exploded. It was my professional mission to find the companies that were making high-quality and relevant content accessible and free for teachers, families, and students to use while school was virtual. STM partners and other companies and nonprofits, including NAfME, stepped up to give those in school free music lesson content, free subscriptions to online music making software, and free advice and webinars for how to teach and learn music in a digital, remote world.
STM’s resources page is not a page anymore, but a hub of 200+ resources of content anyone can explore to enhance their music teaching and learning. Resources include curriculum and classroom ideas, apps and technology, fundraising and advocacy guidance, research on social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching, and more!
To discover more about social emotional learning, Save The Music has partnered with The Center for Arts Education and Social Emotional Learning to offer a free, professional learning webinar series Student Empowerment Through SEL in Music Education. When social emotional learning (SEL) is embedded into music education, students learn the skills that will help them confront life’s complexities and challenges long after they leave the music classroom.
The webinar series helps educators better understand how to elevate the lived experiences, voices, and cultural backgrounds of their students through the development of proven music education practices and approaches, designed to activate the social emotional learning competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making through the artistic processes of create, perform, respond, and connect.
Webinars are free to attend and tailored for music educators but are also relevant for student musicians, parents and families, as well as music education advocates. All those interested in social emotional learning in music education are welcome to join. To learn more, register for an upcoming webinar episode, or access more social-emotional learning resources, visit www.savethemusic.org/SEL.
One final thought: From my own time as a classroom music teacher, I recognize that quality resources, practical tools, and thoughtful support can boost an educator’s confidence and ability to create meaningful learning experiences for their students. Support can also help teachers stay in their jobs and provide goals and purpose. Sharing resources and offering opportunities for educators to connect is a simple way to show we care and hopefully brings inspiration and joy.
About the author:
Rebecca Hof is the Senior Manager of Teacher Programs at Save The Music Foundation (STM). She works with STM partner schools to offer resources for their music programs to grow and thrive, coordinates professional development for music educators, organizes unique learning opportunities for students, and curates STM’s digital catalog of online music education resources for the public. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Millikin University. Originally from northern Illinois, she began her career as a high school choral director and elementary general music teacher in the Yorkville Community Unit School District near Chicago. Rebecca went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in Performing Arts Administration from New York University and worked with organizations such as Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
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January 4, 2022. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)