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Margaret Winthrop

Critical Pedagogy
May 1, 2014
Philosophy of Music Education
Music should be a part of every childs life, in and outside of school. It is
important for our schools to have a music department for multiple reasons. In most
elementary and some middle schools, general music classes act as a fun break
between academic classes that also help the students learn more about music and
enhance their learning abilities. General music classes in elementary school can
engage every different type of learner, and when done properly can greatly enhance the
experience in the music classroom for every child. In high school and some middle
school general music classes, it becomes more similar to an academic class, in which
the students are taught facts of music history, theory, and important people in music.
This knowledge, although not necessary to everyone, is often applicable to daily life,
and can especially help students who are considering a career in music or continuing it
as a hobby. We are exposed to different kinds of music just from a very young age. We
often watch ourselves dancing or singing to our parents music in our baby videos.
Singing is one of the most natural things as a human and we begin to do it often before
we learn how to speak. In watching videos, thinking of memories, or even right in the
moment, we notice how happy we become when we listen and sing along to the music
we love. Music has a special kind of effect on people that you cant get from anything

Music should evoke emotions, and students in higher grade levels, like middle
and high school, should be able to learn and understand the emotional aspect of music
in an ensemble setting. Bennet Reimer talks about how you wouldnt show a piece of
artwork that holds no meaning or purpose to an art class. You wouldnt do the same for
a music class. It is important to teach the music as if it were a painting. Study every
beautiful detail of it, understand why the composer set the lyrics to the music, or if there
are no lyrics, understand what the composer is trying to paint with his or her music. This
is something that must be addressed some the technical aspects of the music are
understood by the student ensembles. Bennet Reimer states, The music used in music
educationshould be good music, which means genuinely expressive music. (Reimer,
1970, 40). I believe in this one hundred and ten percent. Students should be taught
good music to understand the emotions of the pieces they perform and feel those
emotions and expressions themselves, and portray those emotions to the audience so
through the ensemble, the conductor, the music, they can truly feel what the composer
meant for them to feel.
The teacher should always create a positive environment inside the classroom
for all of the children. When teaching any kind of class, whether it be music or nonmusic, students tend to respond better to a positive teaching style. McCormick explains
throughout his book how positivity can change the whole learning experience and
enhance the success rate of the students (McCormick, 1994). Positivity will keep the
students engaged and interested in the subject matter, even if the subject isnt the most
exciting material. If a teacher is grumpy, nasty, mean, or even treats one student badly,
it affects the whole class in way that they wont be as engaged and interested in the

subject matter. Having a positive attitude will show the students that they are welcome
to learn and ask questions. It is also important to show that you care about the students
and their success in the class. Jon Gordon stated, The best educators stand out by
showing their students and colleagues that they care about them. Standardized test
scores rise when teachers make time to really know their students, (Gordon, 2013).
This is entirely true, students will care more about the class and participate more when
the teacher shows how they care about the students and want to help them. By this they
will enjoy the class and also have a positive attitude in the classroom.
Teachers must be patient. Patience is unfortunately not as common as it should
be in teachers. Children need patience in learning, especially when a student doesnt
understand. I have experiences with very patient teachers, and very impatient teachers,
and have seen the way it impacts the learning experience. When a teacher is impatient
with the students, they have a more difficult time obtaining the knowledge. Eventually,
after being neglected by the teacher, they lose focus in the class and dread being there.
When a teacher is patient with his or her students they will understand the material and
will be able to participate in class. By being patient, the students will be more engaged
in the class, and will overall enjoy learning in the class. This will also make the teaching
experience much more exciting, enjoyable, and satisfying when the students are
interested and understand what you are teaching.
The teacher should attend to the needs of the students, so that every student can
have the same experience in the classroom. This applies to different types of learners
and to children with special needs. Bernice McCarthy is a firm believer in
accommodating to different learners and the 4MAT cycle. The 4MAT cycle is based off

of the four different learners and is designed to accommodate type one learners first,
then type two, type three, and lastly type four (McCarthy, 2000). It is important not to
favor a type of learner just because that is the learning or teaching style you identify
with. Being able to accommodate all different types of learners equally will enhance the
learning experience and your students will have a greater success rate in the class.
Also, children with special needs should not be neglected and often need more attention
or help with things, but with that in mind, remember not to neglect the rest of the class
for one or two other kids.
Music educators should look to teach the students different types of music.
Learning about Bach or Mozart for an entire semester or year can be very boring for
elementary or secondary school students. Exposing students to music from different
eras, parts of the world, and composers will interest them in both the music and the
history of some of the pieces they will hear, play, or sing. This can be used in a general
music class or ensemble setting. For example, a choir could learn and perform a
baroque piece, modern piece, African tribal piece, and a choral arrangement of a pop
song. By allowing the students to experience these different types of music they can
appreciate the different styles and have a greater knowledge of the different styles and
their history.
Teachers should look to make their classroom as lively and interactive as
possible. It is much easier to have an interactive classroom in the younger grades, and
it should be that way, but as the kids grow older we lose that liveliness of the classroom.
Educators are often robotic in their teachings in the older grades, having students take
notes listen to the teacher lecture along with a slide show on the smart board every day.

Now, of course this has to happen in some classrooms, but it doesnt have to be the
only thing to happen in classrooms, especially a music classroom. For the younger
grades, Sherry Carty talks about waking up the childrens senses as a way to increase
their focus and make the lesson interactive. Some examples she uses is having the
children pass around an object and describe what they feel, see, smell, etc, keeping a
musical rhythm to a persons name by using body percussion, imitating animals and
comparing how we are similar and different from them, and taking imaginary trips to
explore fantasy (Brown, 1975, 167). All of these can be used in lesson plans and even
as a whole lesson plan in the music classroom for young elementary school children,
even through early middle school. Although these are great activities to do with children,
they probably wouldnt work so well with teenagers. Instead of doing these childish
activities, high school students will want to do something that can show they can take
responsibility but also have fun. Some activities that could work with teens are group
projects, creating an interactive mini-lesson on a certain topic that pertains to the unit
being taught, or even field trips, even small ones like going outside for class. This can
help students gain a new and different perspective on the subjects being taught and
especially help those students who do not work well when having to sit still and listen for
forty or more minutes. Other simpler ways is to ask the students questions or have an
open discussion about the subject being taught. Sandra Newby says I will try to listen
to you as much as I can. Normally I will limit my talking to five percent of the time so that
you will have much opportunity to express yourselves, (Brown, 1975, 203). Although
five percent is very small, I believe the teacher should limit their talking to between five
and twenty five percent depending on the lesson. The students should always have a

chance to speak their thoughts on the lesson and express themselves through word of
mouth or creativity.

Brown, G. I., & Yeomans, T. (1975). The live classroom: innovation through
confluent education and Gestalt. New York: Viking Press.
Reimer, B. (1970). A philosophy of music education. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
McCarthy, B., & Hudson, M. G. (2000). About teaching: 4MAT in the classroom.
Wauconda, Ill.: About Learning, Inc..
McCormick, F. G. (1994). The power of positive teaching (Original ed.). Malabar,
Fla.: Krieger Pub. Co..
Gordon, J. (2013, January 1). Developing Positive Leaders, Organizations and
Teams. The Power of a Positive Educator. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from