In the conceptual framework for the national core arts standards, the artistic process of connecting is defined as “relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.” This definition delineates the process of connecting to do entities: one’s personal life, and the lives of others. The others may be contemporaries or historical, a concert venue or a practice room, an audience of family or of strangers, of an art music composer or a hip-hop songwriter. There are intact dozens of contexts with which an artistic idea and work can be connected. As we have seen with the other artistic processes, the possibilities create opportunities for students to choose which context they connect with, which one they have an interest in, which one they have knowledge of, and which one they pursue further learning about, Similar choices exist in how connections are made with personal meaning. A student can find personal meaning by connecting with their own interests, knowledge and abilities, with the artistic culture of their peer group, with the artistic culture of their family, or even with the artistic culture of people who they are studying in history or have encountered in a novel, poem,play or non-fiction piece they may have read in another class and with which they have already related in a personal way. In this sense, personal meaning can be a sort of higher level of external context once the external context has been related to and internalized so that it is now a personal or internal context.
It is within the connecting process that students will find relevance of content, and motivation to learn. When the process of connecting is done successfully, learning does not become boring, but has an immediacy, freshness, and even excitement that leads to higher achievement. Connecting is also, of all the processes, the most dependent on personal relationships. Whereas with creating and performing, though interactions with others are certainly present and necessary, the focus was on the musical idea and work, with connecting the focus is on people through whom the music was created, performed, and experienced and through whom contexts were established. The process of connecting will fail if only connections with ideas and works are attempted. Connections with the peopled what they expressed through the ideas and works is absolutely necessary for connecting to occur.
As we look at the anchor standards for connecting, we see words that indicate high levels of reasoning and critical thinking. We have already seen evaluation and analysis in the process of performing. Now we find synthesis, completing the upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy learning domains. The anchor standards for connecting are, “synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art,” and “relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.” The first of these two anchor standards is interesting, because it specifies a reason for synthesizing and relating knowledge and personal experiences. The reason, according to the writers of the standards, is to make art (music). A cycle is set up whereby a student, having an understanding of how all the parts that constitute a musical work fit and work together to make a musical whole, will use that understanding to manipulate those parts in a similar way to make music of their own. This is consistent with the meaning of synthesize in the context of Bloom’s original taxonomy. There, the word was used to indicate that the student at that level of cognition would put the parts learned through analysis back together through synthesis for the purpose of creating new meaning. In the new Bloom’s taxonomy, “synthesis” was replaced with “creating.” The writers of the anchor standard embraced “creating” and interpreted it to mean making art (music). In this way, connecting reaches back to creating and performing, and draws on knowledge and understandings gained through responding.