The Thing About Learning

I am by nature a very thoughtful person. People who know me well frequently accuse me of overthinking many things, and I have to admit that they are right--I do overthink often. As someone almost constantly in conscious thought about something, there are many thought that come and go, forgotten as quickly as they arrived, … Continue reading The Thing About Learning

Artful Learning

In this, the centennial anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth, all sorts of things that this American musical icon did are being brought out into the public consciousness. Of course, most know of Bernstein's work as a conductor, composer and teacher, what with his numerous recordings, lectures, young peoples concerts and musical compositions. Of all that … Continue reading Artful Learning

What Is Creativity and How Do Music Educators Develop It?

When asked to advocate for music education, one of the frequently given pieces of evidence is that music education develops creativity or creative thinking. While this sounds reasonable, at times it can be difficult to find much creative activity in the things that students are asked to do in both general music and music performance … Continue reading What Is Creativity and How Do Music Educators Develop It?

Toccata Blocks: A Tool To Help Teach Rhythm

No matter what method you use to teach music, be it Kodaly, Orff, or any other, when it comes to music reading there are certain aspects of our music notational system that are counter-intuitive and confusing to students who are just beginning. One of those difficulties is often the irrelevance of how the notes are … Continue reading Toccata Blocks: A Tool To Help Teach Rhythm

Conversational Solfege and the National Core Arts Standards

Conversational solfege is a curriculum for teaching music literacy developed by Dr. John Feierabend. It is a literature based curriculum that is grounded in Music Learning Theory and the Kodaly philosophy for music education. It is not a method that one uses to the exclusion of all others, but rather an effective way of teaching … Continue reading Conversational Solfege and the National Core Arts Standards

Making Lessons Interesting and Important

Any classroom will run more smoothly and be a place of effective learning when the lessons taught are both interesting and important to students. Lessons that are interesting to students are about things that students can use, want to use, and to which they can make connections with their personal lives, their other classes, their … Continue reading Making Lessons Interesting and Important

Teaching Musical Phrases

From a perceptual perspective, phrase may be the most important musical element that a music educator teaches. While pitch and rhythm are perhaps the most foundational, and while there can be no phrases without pitch and rhythm, people perceive and understand music aurally in groups of sounds, not from individual notes. Even in instances where … Continue reading Teaching Musical Phrases

Perceiving Expression in Music

The authors of the National Core Arts Standards placed a high premium on expressive intent. It is included in Creating; plan and make, and present, Performing; interpret, Responding; interpret, and in the overriding artistic process on connecting. As I have written elsewhere, expressive intent is problematic in that the listener rarely knows for sure what … Continue reading Perceiving Expression in Music

What Are Music Teachers Really Trying To Accomplish?

Ask a Language Arts teacher what they are trying to achieve with their students, and that teacher will probably mention growth in literacy. He or she wants students to read and write effectively, with understanding and comprehension. Students are likely being asked questions like, "what is the author trying to say?" "How does the author … Continue reading What Are Music Teachers Really Trying To Accomplish?