As a Ph.D. student over the past two years, I have been thinking about teaching. . . . a lot. This blog is an opportunity I am giving myself to ponder and pontificate on various aspects of humans, music and music education. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to make music? How can teaching music be more human? How can it help our soul? My thinking is in process. . . continually becoming. So, for any idea that I post here, I might think just the opposite the day afterwards. It is not a bad thing for thinking to be fluid and adaptable and changing. Someday, my ideas might finally gel a little, but today is not this day!
Today, I am getting ready to teach the Kodaly courses this summer. I am excited about sharing ideas back-and-forth with everyone. One main thing I think is important is that music class should be about music. I know that this seems silly to say. Sometimes, we get caught up in other aspects of history and stories about songs and other things. While discussing other extra-musical aspects of music, let us not forget why we are here. To make music. One way I address this in my music class is that I try to end each lesson with music. We might be listening, creating, or performing music. However, we need to end with MUSIC! With MAGIC! With something that will cause young hearts to sing as they walk out of the room because of a soulful experience!
Lois Choksy (IKS Bulletin, Autumn, 2003) advocated that the destination should be the music!:
“Many times former students have approached me to recount some moment they particularly recalled. And do you know what? Not one of them has ever said ‘That was a wonderful lesson on fa that day in 4th grade’ or ‘I’ve never forgotten ta-ta-ti-ti-ta!’ They have, variously, recalled specific songs we sang, pieces of music we listened to, concerts we gave, concerts we attend. I’m not suggesting that fa and ti-ti-ta are not important, but rather that they are only the vehicle. Music, real music, must be the destination.”
To end a class with music making requires a sophisticated sense of timing. Perhaps other progress needs to be let go in order to end on a musical note! So many times, I was in the middle of teaching a particular concept and saw that we were running out of time fast, especially when I taught in 25 minute segments! I had to learn to stop everything, and create, sing, or do something else for a few minutes. What would help them the most to feel, to think, to experience right before they walk out the door? From the moment your musician-students walk in until the moment your musician-students leave, make music your favorite destination!