Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quotes for Oct 1, 2007

As an instrumentalist, I found this article particularly fascinating. Naturally, I would feel a certain need to incorporate instruments into the classroom, not only due to the state and national standards, but also from my background as an instrumentalist and I found the instrumental incorporation techniques of Mr. Carolin to be extremely inventive and far reaching. Additionally, I think his techniques will be helpful to me, as a future music educator, attempting to find a way balance music with multiculturalism.

"Once the children made the connection between the sound of the ukulele and the story, I could tell them about the fifteenth-century Portuguese sailors who sailed around Africa looking for a water route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia"(39). The jump from music to world and historical contexts that was presented in this lesson was quite inventive and, I believe, could provide a form for other lessons. Other lessons presented in this article, such as the extension from the banjo to African culture, are quite inventive. Using musical instruments as a "departure point" is an excellent way to incorporate both the instrumental music aspect, and the muliticultural aspect that is required of general music education.

The only critique I have for Mr. Carolin, and in general, comes from this description that he offered of a lesson plan: "In the course of this lesson, you can discuss advances in navigation that made it possible for the Europeans to sail around the world. The students could research the expansion of European civilization in the last five hundred years. What caused Europeans to seek a water route to Asia? Why were spices so important ot them? How was the economy of Europe affected? What role did religion play?" (40). The list of questions goes on in this fashion. My general complaint with this, though, is where is the music? While I do feel that it is important to include multicultural education as well as cross-content study (as dictated by the standards), I feel that by following these lesson plans, the music may be overlooked as it is only used as a "departure point" for future discussions and could possibly play a more prominant role in the whole discussion of cultures as music is one of the aspects that defines a culture.

In all, though, I believe that the techniques presented in the article show excellent ways in which instruments can be incorporated into the classroom to address not only the instrumental aspects of music performance, but also the world views of music.

Carolin, Michael. "An Instrumental Approach to Culture Study in General Music". Music Educator's Journal. May 2006. 38-41.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quotes for 9/26/07

I found this article particularly helpful as a starting point for later development and implementation of movement activities. As the author, Jack Neill, states, most teachers don't include music into the curriculum because they "simply don't feel comfortable with movement" (96). I feel that this quote directly describes me. I never had significant training in musical movement and I always find teaching a subject in which I do not have a solid base quite difficult. I do feel that I would try to include musical movement, because, as past blogs have pointed out, I significantly agree with the idea that "The elementary music in the enviable position of readily being able to direct this natural energy [and tendency towards motion] toward real learning" (95). Even though I subscribe to the idea that music teachers do have the ability to use movement to their advantage, I do feel that I still have a significant amount of development to do in this particular area of my teaching. Several of the suggestions in this article, however, from simply "be positive" to pre-planned activities will help me later in my career. I do hope that I, and others in my position (music educators uncomfortable with motion) will take some of the suggestions offered in this article and incorporate them into their classrooms.

Neil, Jack. Elementary Music Con Moto. Music Educator's Journal. January 1990.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quotes for 9-24-07

"If you teach music, you move" (Reynolds, 84). That was a quote that really stood out to me this week. Just like many elements in this class, I had never really thought of movement or its education being a significant part of music, I mostly considered it to be more in the realm of dance. Movement, and specifically flow, do seem to be an important part of a music education with implications for success for later study in music. After reading this, I do feel that movement, specifically flow, should be encouraged in classrooms.

Not only does movement help in later performances, but, as Alison Reynolds points out, "...when students successfully participate in traditional movement activities, their kinesthetic involvement in a music objective is likely to assist with comprehending and retaining it, or with improving the accuracy with which they perform or identify it"(Reynolds, 84). This quote seems to suggest that, just as music play is a powerful tool for educating children, movement is just as powerful with drawing children into the lesson and making them enjoy it. One of the main aspects to movement that makes it very powerful, though, is its aid in not only involvement, but also comprehension and retention, two goals that teachers have for their lessons. Using movement as a tool when " is a natural, and even spontaneous, response to music..." (Music Play, 124), seems to be an excellent way for music educators to convey and engage children in lessons as well as to help them retain the lesson.

I also feel that Gordon's research makes a compelling argument for the inclusion of movement into a music education. As professional musicians, we all can personally attest to the level of coordination that is required to play our instruments, or sing, musically. Coordination between breathing, fingering, articulating, etc. While I never thought of movement being able to teach coordination, Gordon's research suggests that it does. As the article points out, "Gordon believes that movement assists the child with realizing that she needs to begin to teach herself how to maintain the coordination between her breathing and moving and singing or moving and chanting while performing music" (124). This quote also builds a strong argument for the inclusion of movement into an elementary education. I also would argue for its inclusion for its ability to focus our energy. As the article says, "...moving with continuous flow allows us to positively control our energy. [An ability to do this results in musicians being able to] breathe, draw the bow, reach for an upper octave, finger a difficult passage, and accurately begin to play again after long pauses in the music" (125). Flow seems to be essential for a good musician and therefore it would seem detrimental to remove it from an elementary education.

Should movement be included in an elementary education? Yes, I believe it should. Should it be included to the level included in the Dalcroze method? I'm not sure if that is entirely necessary, but I do believe that certain elements should be included. Movement, as I know now, is essential for building a good musician and I believe its inclusion into a curriculum is vital for the success of students in the future.

Alison Reynolds et al. Music Play. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1998.

Alison Reynolds. "Guiding Preparatory Audiation: A Moving Experience". Early Childhood, Elementary General, and Choral Applications.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quotes for 9-19-07

"Their [children] biological selves gravitate naturally and readily to full participation in music, and they are captivated by it" (169).

This quote stuck out for me this week as another good argument in support of music education. There does not seem to be another activity that children are so fully immersed in as music, and for that alone, music becomes a powerful tool for educators. Children, for example, don't sit on the playground and solve algebra problems--they dance around the playground singing and it is that natural involvement in music that, when harnessed by educators, can be used to make any lesson more entertaining and, from a child's point of view, more worth while. Early participation in music, throughout the elementary years, develops this natural tendency and is all the better for children in their secondary education.

More than just enjoyment, though, this natural gravitation to music has been noted by educators and within most curricula "there is usually a some articulation of the importance of developing children's expressive and artistic capacities" (181). While dance and creative writing can also expound upon this, music seems to be ideal because of its natural draw for children.

Music also has far reaching implications in an overall curriculum as it can serve so many functions, too. For example, between pages 176-177, Campbell creates a list of all the different functions that music can fulfill in a curriculum. "Emotional Expression" (175) is, in my opinion, a very important skill that needs to be developed by schools. According to Campbell, "Music's power to express raw emotions is not lost on children" (175). I feel that this is a very valid point and one can look to the classic example of a happy child singing a happy song. Encouragement of this form of expression can be used to expand upon it and have children express their emotions in other healthy (and socially acceptable) ways. "Communication", "Physical response", " norms", and "Integration of society" (176-177), these topics and others are all things that music can be used to teach children. The amount of cross-content lessons that can be taught with and through music are mind-boggling and encouragement of this natural attraction to music can really enhance the learning process.

With this in mind, the question changes from "why music?" to "why not music?". These quotes from this week make a very strong arguments, and encourage arguments that I had never before though of, in favor of its inclusion. I firmly believe that music deserves a place in any curriculum at the elementary level as it is such a powerful tool, how can teachers afford not to take advantage of it?

Campbell, Patricia. Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in Children's Lives. New York, New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1998.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quotes for September 12, 2007

I thought this set of readings was very interesting in the fact that speech in support of the inclusion of music into a curriculum comes straight from the children who are involved with it. The children that Ms. Campbell interviewed showed how music can be used for a multitude of developmental activities--from stimulating the imagination to becoming part of a natural sciences lesson.

"My puppets make music, when I tell them to. They need me to supply them with songs" (86). As George points out, music is stimulating his imagination when he is playing with his puppets. This development of the imagination through its use is very important for children and it seems as though the music is pushing that development. I found this quote particularly fascinating because, as Campbell had claimed through the course of the book, children play with music and this quote coming directly from a child validates that statement in that he is deliberately using music as part of an imaginary game with his puppets. Music in George's case, too, can also be seen as a motivational device as he "...really wants to make instruments [such as a flute and a slide whistle]" (89). Ramona is also inspired by music. As a second grader she said to Ms. Campbell, "Once, when i went to the bathroom last year, I went through the gym, and I saw some fifth graders playing sax. They played so pretty, that's when I knew that I would learn sax when I'm that old." (107). Again, music providing this inspiration is a very important element to have in a school as it will encourage children to succeed.

For the motivational and imagination development that music provides alone it should be included in every curriculum, however, as the next interview states, it can bring more to a curriculum. As Carrie says to the author in response to a simple question (do you like to sing?), "Yes. Because I like music in general, and because all of my friends sing with me..." (91). Not only is Carrie motivated by music (I like music in general), but it can be used to develop social skills (all of my friends sing with me). I feel that one of the primary purposes of an elementary school is to develop social skills with children and since music motivates children and builds their social skills, I feel that it is an ideal part of a curriculum.

Carrie also points out that her teacher is able to use music as a cross content lesson tool. As Carrie says in response to a song she just sang about spiders "We're studying spiders, and my teacher always likes to put a poem to a song" (92). This seems, to me, like an excellent use for music. The teacher will make up a poem about the lesson the children just had, and then will teach it to them in song. Because of their motivation to sing music (Carrie goes home and sings these songs to her family), the information in the lesson will stay with the students for a longer period as opposed to simply rote memorization of facts from a book.

I felt that this chapter was excellent as it, for lack of a better word, validated everything that Ms. Campbell had said previously. The children were telling the readers why they loved music and from that, it is very clear why music should be included in a curriculum--I feel, children think, and research has shown, that the advantages would be phenomenal.

Campbell, Patricia. Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in Children's Lives. New York, New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1998.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Quotes for 9/5/07--Children at Play

Of the readings for this week, the main theme that stuck out at me was the way that children use songs in play and to the different levels of complexity that they display. The first quote that jumped out from the reading was "The play activities during the noon hour were heavily laden with singsong taunts, calls and cries with definitive pitches, and a wide array of rhythms conveyed through clapping, patting, stepping, and tapping" (18). To me, this captures the essence of a child's play--music. I feel that this is important because a child's play is music and children love to play. Again, from last week, harnessing this would be extraordinarily powerful in teaching music to children.

I also found the analysis of the songs at the Horace Mann school yard fascinating. The fact that the melodies ranged from "intervals of the second, fifth, and octave" (18) to "[the production] of a rhythmic a background track"(19). I believe that this, again, can be a very powerful tool in the musical education of children as these musical abilities seem to be inherent in children. This makes the teacher's job simply to put these inherent musical abilities into a structured context.

The final thought, though, that I had was that this could cause problems in the education process as children have different levels of inherent musical abilities. Again, ranging from simple intervallic songs, to rhythmic songs, to full fledged songs, there are varying levels of inherent talent in school children. Thus, while the goal of an elementary teacher should be (assuming the proper support from administrators/parents/schedules/etc.) should just be to place these abilities into a context, the varying abilities could cause potential problem in planning activities. It seems, though, that careful planning and the incorporation of the idea of play into a music class will solve these problems as various activities, such as pairing, could be used to even out differences.

Campbell, Patricia. Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in Children's Lives. New York, New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1998.