What others say: The teaching philosophy at the Florida State University College of Music is very focused on technique and quality education. The first statement you see on the Music education page on the university website is, “Selection and preparation in music education at Florida State University is based upon an important yet extremely simple premise–it is, that every person involved as a learner ought to have the best instruction possible”. The premise of music education here is that every student should have access to a productive learning environment that is conducive to properly furthering their music education.
The instructors are responsible for teaching their students healthy technique that will aid them in their journey to becoming stronger musicians. Another aspect of the Florida State University College of Music’s philosophy is that, “The music teacher attempts to create a respect and desire for musical experiences, teaching people to react positively, listen responsively, and participate in a musically sensitive manner by providing a variety of musical experiences for those who will be consumers of music and those who will be music professionals”.
This statement emphasizes that the teacher is not only responsible for making sure their student has proper technique, but also to inspire their students to want to create more music, and appreciate what they are doing to a degree above most of the average young adults in society today. They are to help their students to listen critically to compositions being performed by their peers. The philosophy of David J. Elliott from his article, Music Education as/for Artistic Citizenship, incorporates the idea that, “Anything in the world, including worthy endeavors like music education, can be seen and interpreted in many ways” (2012).
Using a picture, he emphasized his point by saying that one person may believe that the image shown was a duck while another may believe that it is actually an aerial view of a golf course. He believes that we must be aware of all different potential viewpoints when teaching a particular subject. The main idea within his philosophy is that concept of figuring out why we are choosing to teach. He questions three ideas that are commonly accepted as integral components of music education; “1. Music-making for intrinsic musical experiences is a key aim of music education, but it is not enough.
We should also prepare students to “put their music to work” for the betterment of other people’s lives and social well-being. 2. Music educators should help students conceive and practice “music-making as ethical action” for social justice. 3. We should aim to infuse school music with an “ethic of care”—care for oneself and for the health of our social communities” (2012). He keeps asking why we accept these, and where these ideas originated from. He believes that teachers should, and are expected to go above the minimum requirements they must meet. There is absolutely no doubt that individual and group music-making and listening comfort, sustain, and inspire people and transform individual lives.
But in larger terms, I am moved to suggest that many school and community music programs are capable of much more”. Supposedly, all organized music groups have potential to be truly great, regardless of their resources and technical skill. Overall, he appears to want to adapt commonly accepted notions regarding how educators should teach to modern society and essentially update them in a way that fits more appropriately in our constantly evolving culture.
My roommate, Samantha George, has a completely different philosophy from either of the aforementioned sources. She focuses on the fact that music is a form of expression and a creative outlet that everyone has experienced at some point in their life. She gives examples including businessmen hearing music in an elevator, and mothers singing to their children. She claims that while it is relatively simple to teach technique and how to read notes and rhythms it, “… is more important and much harder to accomplish… [to show] students how to appreciate the music they are playing and help them actually make music”(2014).
Playing music is different from making music. Enjoying what you are playing a little is different from truly appreciating what you are creating. There are integral characteristics that she would include in her orchestral programming such as, “dynamics, accents, vibrato, and most of all movement” (2014), and then she would include chamber music into her program as well. The incorporation of chamber music, she believes, will create a tighter knit community between musicians in the program, and help them to become more independent musicians. Music theory would also be a part of her education plan.
She believes that, “Having a solid understanding of basic key signatures, chordal progressions, phrase structures, and much more can help students visualize the mood and tone of the piece”. To conclude her philosophy, she expresses her interest in being a guide of sorts for her students; to be the one who helps inspire them to go out and create music on their own, and provide them with the tools they would need to do so. What I say: My philosophy on music education is that music is a way to help build a sense of awareness of different cultures, and create a less ethnocentric point of view within my students.
According to sunshine state standard number MU. 912. 4. 1, “Through study in the arts, we learn about and honor others and the worlds in which they live”. Being aware and respectful of cultures different from ones’ own is hugely important to me having grown up in a society where I am part of a minority. People are so ignorant of my culture and religious values, that they unknowingly will say something extremely offensive, and have no idea they did so. Through music, I will be able to encourage my students to want to learn about new cultures, and immerse themselves in their traditions and musical techniques.
Another integral part of my future choral programs will be the emphasis on learning proper technique. While it will appear tedious and sometimes even boring to my students, it will help them avoid injuries and mental stress in the long run. Due to the fact that no one ever fixed my technique, I developed a hand injury that no constricts my ability to play piano for long periods of time. Not only is it physically beneficial to have proper technique, it helps to retain information longer, which can transfer to other areas of study. It has been proven in scientific studies that students involved in music generally have higher testing scores.
According to sunshine state standard number MU. 912. 5. 2, “Development of skills, techniques, and processes in the arts strengthens our ability to remember, focus on, process, and sequence information”. In addition to both of these ideals, I would simply like my choir room to be a place of solace; a place where students can just forget about their other worries, and just focus on creating something beautiful. For some students, my class may be the only time they can ever just relax and enjoy themselves. My choir classroom will be a safe place for students to express themselves and not be afraid to take risks and offer new ideas.