Why Practice?

I was in my senior year of my undergraduate studies, during my apprentice teaching semester. I shared an off-campus apartment with two other men, one a music major the other a psychology major. One day, after I had been practicing my clarinet, the music major said to me, "I don't like listening to people practice." … Continue reading Why Practice?

What Does Music Mean?

One of the more perplexing questions of the ages concerning music is the question, what does music mean? Philosophers from Aristotle to Bernstein have tried to answer this question, but none have done so in a way that once and for all settles the matter. Bernstein devoted much of his lecturing life to tackling the … Continue reading What Does Music Mean?

Child Development and Music Education

Dr. James Comer of Yale University has found six pathways along which children develop. These pathways are described as physical, cognitive, language, social, ethical, and psychological. While music education clearly has ties to all six pathways, I would like to focus in on two of them: cognitive and psychological. The Cognitive Pathway and Music The … Continue reading Child Development and Music Education

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

Depth of Learning in Music Classes

One of the challenges school music teachers face is the wide range of grades many of us teach. It is not uncommon for public school music teachers in the United States to teach every student in a school that serves children from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. Many music teachers teach 500-700 students throughout the course … Continue reading Depth of Learning in Music Classes

Issues With Expressive Intent in the Core Arts Standards

One of the pervasive threads that is woven through the national core arts standards under the artistic processes of performing and of responding, is the idea of interpreting based on an expressive intent. The pertinent anchor standard for responding is "interpret intent and meaning in artistic work." For third grade, the performance standard is to … Continue reading Issues With Expressive Intent in the Core Arts Standards

Teaching Music Interpretation

Interpretation is included in the anchor standards for both performing and responding to music found in the national core arts standards. Interpretation is closely tied to expressive intent, which is what the composer intended to express in a particular musical work. This aspect of interpretation is important, because it gives the interpreter a starting place … Continue reading Teaching Music Interpretation

“But I Am Listening”

The direction to listen to music can mean different things to different people. To a music educator, listening to music usually involves giving attention to recorded music being played or to music being performed live, and also involves listening with a stated purpose. For example, a class might be asked to listen for  a singer's … Continue reading “But I Am Listening”

Arranging and Expressive Intent

When musicians prepare for a performance, there are countless decisions that are made and problems that are solved. Most often, a composer and an arranger have made many artistic decisions, and indicated them in the score. Dynamics, articulation, tempo and who sings or plays what are all mapped out. Though printed music certainly doesn't play … Continue reading Arranging and Expressive Intent

There’s Always So Much Going On Inside Music

Until I got to college and began working on my music degree, I thought music was a pretty simple thing. There were people like me who sat in a band with a clarinet, and people like the conductor who told me and all of the other players what to play, and how to play it. … Continue reading There’s Always So Much Going On Inside Music