Music Education has a whimsical side to it. Music teachers and student musicians get to see the funny in class and rehearsals. Cello There takes all of this and puts it in one place where we can see a new set of Music Education Funnies every weekday by Gregory Pavliv and MusicTeachingGuru.com
Sure, students in social studies and history classes learn about politics. The same classes may even delve into parliamentary procedure, political science or the art of debating. But did you know that high school students that are active in music education are more likely to participate in politics, ten years later?
While a history or social studies class could focus on a the impact of a people or a culture, only the most experienced of educators can parlay this into a cooperative learning moment where students can explore cultures other than their own. And even in those circumstances, it would require a lot of planning and coordination with resources that may not be available (though I truly hope it is being done).
There is no smoking gun that will immediately fix this. It has to first be acknowledged as being a real problem. Then it has to be addressed using the amazingly appropriate vehicle of music education. And then, one classroom and one student at a time, we can begin to remove stereotypes. Here is one of my favorite Buddhist proverbs that better explains the process, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The music classroom can be utilized as a school strategy to empower cross-cultural understanding.
There are indelible cultural links that run deeply in urban communities that transcend faith, geography, and circumstance which are all explicitly linked to music. When I was teaching inner-city schools in New Jersey, every class had students with several different races and nationalities. I decided to create an informal case study, tracking the progress of my classes as they guide me through the cultures of the school. Over the period of about one month I asked students, parents, aides and teachers, what type of music they listened to on a regular basis. I was humbled.
There is a deeply creative side to science and mathematics that is often overlooked and we often misconstrue them as subjects based only on fact and therefor require only memorization to be successful. While memorization and long term retention are just as key in science and math as they are in other subjects, the mere facts of either are good only for iteration. It’s in the creative application of the facts and the ability to creatively think when solving problems which makes the difference.
For many years, school districts have been cutting music and/or physical education programs in order to make budgeting room and additional time within the school day for extra periods of math, science and language arts in an effort to increase standardized test scores. This practice continues to this day, however, it was proven to NOT work in 2003 (Wilkins, 2003).