When it comes to establishing a comprehensive student education, music serves as a key component. This is why my main responsibility as a music educator is to provide my students with the well-rounded education and personal development that was graciously given to me. While my music educators obviously passed down a love for the arts and an increase in cognitive musicianship, they also passed down a way of thinking that increased my performance in other subject matters, increased my ability to construct strong interpersonal relationships, and provided myself with a larger sense of self among many other benefits. Throughout my career as a music educator, I hope to provide my students with a safe space to grow in aspects of their life they did not know possible.
Some of the greatest minds in history are known for expressing just how significant music is in our schools. Philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius used their findings to show music’s positive effects on child development. Music, according to Plato, allows the children of today to function as burgeoning citizens of tomorrow, shaping our society beneficially. The arts help build a positive sense of character, and those who have led American society into what it is today stand behind that.
On an academic basis, music has been known to improve performance in non-musical subject matters. For the past two decades, neuroscientists have been performing various studies in which link music participation to psychological development. More than any other activity, music has the profound ability to work parts of the brain rarely put into effect, therefore providing musicians with a more dynamic psychological makeup. According to psychologist Anita Collin, the increase in psychological development and connection between brain hemispheres allows human thought and intelligence to increase. Music also exposes students to mathematical material (time signatures, numerical subdivisions), historical material (music history, composer biographies, music written in response to significant moments in history), scientific material (sound waves, audiation, hearing), and other material centralized around common core education. The brain continually working and interconnecting allows musicians to strengthen knowledge acquisition.
On the other side of the spectrum, music education also has the power to expand social development. In a study performed by the Programme for International Students Association, Finnish students who were in fact shown to succeed academically without being influenced by music education did not seem to enjoy going to school. This study shows that while getting grades may be important in a society dominated by those of high intelligence, academic achievement means nothing without having intrinsic motivation. However, this same study conducted by Päivi-Sisko and Tuomas Eerola found that students who achieved academically and also were musically educated enjoyed going to school every day. In an ensemble, music allows people to unite and face the outside world together as one. These students are maturing outside of their homes, formulating ideas with people who will support and accept them no matter what. Not only are students increasing socialization, but they are also enjoying this developmental process.
This acceptance branches from what a music classroom should be: a microcosm for the outside world. In my musical learning community, I will be sure to represent the voices that are sometimes failed to be represented due to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or some other societal minority. My classroom will be a place for all students to feel both accepted and voiced, with musical pieces and musicians past and present that I hope all students can relate to in some way. I will do whatever I must do as an educator to promote an overall feeling inclusion my students can use to thrive in both music and their everyday lives.
While students will undoubtedly feel included, I also expect the music education I provide to mold a sense of self-reliance and responsibility. In any musical setting, whether a general music classroom or a choral/instrumental ensemble, students are required to work together as one. And just as a machine does not run with a faulty part, a music group will not function without all students putting in an equal share of accountability. Students will be accountable for practicing, bringing required materials to and from school, and being familiar with the material at hand. I hope for my student musicians to positively work off one another, fulfilling their job within the whole. Through this process, students will be able to establish a routine that will aid in their team working abilities as they grow.
It is no hidden fact that a student’s education can sometimes appear to be secularized. Music education serves as a foreground of safe, integrated learning. It will be my mission to use my musical learning community as a way to not only integrate common core subjects into music but also as a way to integrate so many life lessons and societal values into one forty to fifty-minute period. Will it be easy? No. But will my resiliency for student success make my educational philosophy into a reality? Absolutely.
Collins, Anita. "Music Education and the Brain: What Does It Take to Make a Change?” Applications of Research in Music Education 32.2 (2014): 4-10. Web.
Eerola, Päivi-Sisko, and Tuomas Eerola. "Extended Music Education Enhances the Quality of School Life." Music Education Research 16.1 (2014): 88-104. Web.
Frey, Angelica. "Here is What Great Philosophers Thought of Music." CMUSE (2018). Web.