The Joy and Learning Opportunities Inherent in Music

The Joy and Learning Opportunities Inherent in Music

NAfME Immediate Past President & Fargo Public Schools Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist 
Denese Odegaard on Music In Our Schools Month®

Article originally posted on FargoSchoolTalk Blog


Music is all around us in the form of commercial jingles, background music to TV and movies, street music, half-time shows, concerts of all musical genres, events, cultural experiences, and more. Music is a large part of the culture in which we live, work, and play. It energizes us when we need a boost; it’s reflective when we’re melancholy; or it calms us down when we need to relax. It’s there for us as a way to express what we cannot put into words. We celebrate this gift during March with Music In Our Schools Month®.


Trumpet players
Image via FargoSchoolTalk Blog


Students in Fargo Public Schools have the opportunity to experience music from kindergarten through senior year in general music, band, choir, orchestra, composition, and co-curricular music groups.  Do you ever wonder what music does for students?

Music education shapes the way our students understand themselves and the world.  It allows for deep engagement with learning.  It nurtures assets and skills that are critical to future success, including creativity, curiosity, determination, and motivation.  In other words, music helps develop the student behind the score.

  • Emotional Awareness: Students learn to express themselves in multiple ways and become more sensitive to the preferences and feelings of others.
  • Reflective Learning: Students reflect on failures and successes through the creative process, and derive a sense of their own competencies, interests, and challenges.
  • Process Orientation: Students develop the ability to consistently refine their thinking as part of the creative process, developing an ability to re-evaluate goals and objectives and, if needed, adjust their approach to the objective.
  • Decision-Making: Through both the creative and reflective learning process, students gain greater capacity to question, interpret, and influence their own lives.
  • Grit: In a high-level performance environment, hard work and dedicated practice predict success far more than innate ability. Music performance offers opportunities to fail. Students learn the value of persistence, and of working hard for an uncertain outcome.
  • Multiple Ways of Knowing: Music study promotes fluency in knowledge systems beyond the linguistic and mathematical, enabling a deeper and broader understanding of our world and of the human experience.


Image via FargoSchoolTalk Blog


The “No Child Left Behind Bill” recently received a federal overhaul in which music is now enumerated as its own subject. The new bill, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), articulates that music should be a part of every child’s well-rounded education, no matter their personal circumstance. Music increases the attendance and graduation rates of a school and creates a sense of community within a school.

The students of FPS present concerts throughout the year demonstrating the 21st Century Skills of

  • Critical Thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity    

These are the skills that employers are looking for in personnel they hire. These are the skills that will adapt to a changing world.  These are the skills that will contribute to jobs that haven’t been created yet. These skills contribute to the well-being of our society.

Because of the priority of the arts, including music, in the Fargo Public Schools and the Fargo community, we have been recognized as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in America by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) twelve out of the last fifteen years.

Experience the joy and learning opportunities inherent in music for yourself – no matter your age – all throughout the month!


About the Author

orchestra director
2016 Copyright Mark Finkenstaedt/ All Rights Reserved

Denese Odegaard, NAfME Immediate Past President (2016-2018), is currently the Fargo (North Dakota) Public Schools Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist, and has taught orchestra for 33 years. National service includes board member for both the American String Teachers Association Board (ASTA) and the National Association for Music Education Board (NAfME). While on the ASTA Board, she was chair of the Committee on School Orchestra and Strings and received the ASTA Citation for Leadership twice.

Her involvement in NAfME includes serving as North Central President, Research Advisor for the 3-5 grade standards writing team and past member of the National-State Relations Task Force. She was Executive Director of the North Dakota Music Educators Association for ten years.

Odegaard authored Curriculum Writing 101: Assistance with Standards-based Music Curriculum and Assessment Writing for Band, Choir, Orchestra and General Music (GIA), co-authored the ASTA Curriculum (Alfred), and has contributed to several GIA, NAfME and Corwin publications.

She has presented curriculum and assessment sessions at international, national, and state conferences including Midwest, ASTA, TMEA, TODA, AMLE, and three Symposiums on Assessment in Music Education. Odegaard has been trained in instructional coaching through NSDC, mentoring with the New Teacher Center (CA), Backwards Design with Jay McTighe, Curriculum Mapping with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning with Jan Chappuis.

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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.

Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, March 18, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (