Dapper Dan, Kafka, and Jiro Ono.
Original Post 9/12/16
While reading the book Remixing the Classroom the author, Randall Everett Allsup, used several examples to explain what music education is like today. I think the most important take away from this is that music education can dampen students' ability to be creative if we let it. These examples talk about how specific teachers/masters/instructors get. It described how the masters are the one's who create "laws" that all students have to follow. For example, with Jiro Ono you had to completely master one ability to Ono's exact specifications before they can move onto anything else. In this situation he is the master making the laws, and there is no room for any creativity by the student. This is the same as with Kafka. He spent all this time asking to be let into to heaven because he believed someone else had the power to decide when he was allowed to be let past the gates. This is exactly like music education because we spend our time trying to achieve the ultimate praise from our teachers, which seems to never happen. We are continually told, no matter how much we practice, that it isn't good enough, and we start to believe we are not good enough. This can make our students feel trapped and unable to meet the high expectations of their teachers. However, the last story about Dapper Dan is what happens when you don't follow the norms. He created clothing that was new, and unconventional, but worked for the time he created it in. This shows that if we allow students to have some creativity in and out of the classroom, they'll create amazing new forms of music, compositions, and ways of looking at music. We just have to let go of the "laws" and give our students more breathing room. In addition, we have to be willing to adjust to the changing times. Methods and strategies that worked 20 years ago might not fit the norms of classrooms today.
Three years later and i've gained a lot of experience and knowledge on ways I can engage students and find ways for them to be creative. In our classes we have discussed how to not teach for assessment and to teach to the student and their needs/interests. By engaging the students and providing them opportunities to create their own music and engage with others we can help them find ways to be creative. Instead of focusing on the end result, whether that be a concert or assessment, we focus on the journey and our students so they can get something meaningful out of participating in our class. Something i've learned a lot about since I wrote this post two years ago is that if we just take the time to think about our student's and their needs in addition to the next concert we can make classes more meaningful to them. The main thing i've learned since this reading is how to foster experiences where the students just aren't playing an instrument, or singing and dancing, but actually participating in the music making experience. Often times just sitting in your class and playing music can feel mind numbing, so by finding ways to involve students will help them feel more involved and invested in our classes.
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