Cello There: The Funny Side of Music Education

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

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The Importance of Leveraging Music and Culture Throughout the Curriculum

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The Importance of Leveraging Music and Culture Throughout the Curriculum

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).



A language arts class may be able to unlock the writings of someone from a specific heritage or background, but without careful planning into finding guest readers, recordings and any other reinforcing materials that add additional exposure to students, it won’t be able to have the same impact as it could in a music education setting. But, why?


A recording of music can embody a culture because within a composition can be language, dialect, history, tradition, attitude, emotion and meaning. And a professional music educator can use that recording to facilitate discussions that are meaningful and powerful. It takes skill to push through the first reactions of a student to a foreign piece of music. And after pushing through that brief moment, the student is exposed to something new. What can happen can change their outlook, question what they believe or becoming accepting of someone they previously never thought of accepting.

A peaceful and emotional dialogue can be taken to the next level by coordinating with those history, social studies, language arts and ESL classes so that the music classroom becomes the vehicle for this cross-cultural understanding by providing a strong foundation in a musical experience. This is vital to the equation because musical experiences require no effort or understanding. It simply requires a moment of reflection.

It’s in the moments after that first exposure that learning about the music creates this easily accessible groundwork on top of which other subject areas can build from successfully. Here are a few launch points to begin your classroom discussions:


“At Christmas, Puerto Ricans, like many other Roman Catholics, attend a solemn, music-filled midnight Mass, the "Marisa Del Gatt." At 2 a.m., after the Mass, a door-to-door celebration, called the "parranda" in Spanish, begins. The celebrants shout "abre me la puerta" ("open the door') and wait for their potential hosts to allow the festivities to begin. They sing Christmas carols (called "aguinaldos'), eat, drink and share stories of Christmases past. One of the foods that is traditionally served is pasteles, which are green banana tree leaves, boiled, seasoned and mixed with meat, potatoes or other vegetables.”


“Cajuns have a passion for dancing and music. Sometimes there is confusion between Cajun and Zydeco music, which have common roots but distinctly different sounds. Cajun music is lyrical, often plaintive and fiddle-driven. Zydeco is the result of bucolic French music mingling with the blues tradition of native Louisiana blacks. Both Cajun music, played with a squeeze-box accordion, triangle and guitar, and its more contemporary cousin, Zydeco, have become enormously popular in recent years. This is not sit-down music. “


“The Mississippi delta, where African-American history is considered both a grand legacy and an incurable curse, is really the home of the music called the "Blues." It was on the region's vast cotton plantations that black sharecroppers combined African rhythms and European harmony with field chants and hollers to create the blues, which became the foundation of much of twentieth-century American popular music. Almost every important folk blues musician was nurtured in the Mississippi delta region.”


“In the United States, immigrants bring and have brought their music and mix it with what they find here; the growth of the Spanish-speaking population, in particular, supports many forms of music. Other local communities, from Creoles on the bayou to Irish immigrants, also concoct music that suits their needs, for a Saturday-night dance or, perhaps, a private moment of introspection. Whether they reach a broad audience is a matter of aesthetics, entrepreneurship and pure luck. These music styles are largely below the radar of mass pop public; they nevertheless command large and loyal audiences. Some of these styles are: Tejano – this styles combines the accordion-driven polkas and cumbias of Mexican conjunto music with modern touches, including synthesizers and version of rock songs; its audience is young Mexican-Americans, reaching from the Southwest to California.”


“Music can be almost like medications, on emotions. You know, there are waves in the air, there are waves inside our heads and when you add music to those waves you can soothe the rough waves, you can do a lot of things, you can really let people forget about what's troubling them and just enjoy the moment and everybody is unified in enjoying together and that right there, is some of the best medicines, sometimes."

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